Deceived by a counterfeit “Jesus”
The twisted “truths” of The Shack & A Course in Miracles
By Berit Kjos – February 14, 2008
“God, who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things….” [panentheism]
–-The Shack’s “Jesus.” [1,p.112]
“Those who love me come from every system that exists. They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims…. I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters.”
–-The Shack’s “Jesus.” [1,p.182]
“The esoteric spiritual traditions — whether Christian mystics, Hebrew Kabbalists, Zen Buddhists, Islamic Sufis, or Hindu yogis — all have specific practices to help individuals overcome this great ‘illusion of separation‘ and to experience the One True Self, which is in us all.”[2,p.149]
—A Course in Miracles, as “dictated” to channeler Helen Schucman in 1977 by her spirit guide who claimed to be “Jesus.”
“Jesus… said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” Matthew 24:4-5
Two books (one new, one old) have suddenly grabbed public attention and captured the hearts of multitudes. One is long and instructional — a dictation from a channeled spirit guide. The other is a fictional testimony full of tear-jerking dialogue. A Course in Miracles (ACIM) is obviously occult, while the more subtle message of The Shack by William P. Young has been widely accepted in postmodern churches.
The two books share a common message. I saw a stark preview of it back in 1992. Skimming through a magazine called Well-Being Journal, I noticed this New Age “insight” from the author’s “inner guide:”
“Many people believe in evil, sin, and dark forces. It is your purpose to teach the opposite which is the Truth: there is no devil, no hell, no sin, no guilt except in the creative mind of humankind.”
I heard similar deceptions at Gorbachev’s 1997 State of the World Forum. At the time, keynote speaker Marianne Williamson was touting the Kabbalah, not A Course in Miracles (ACIM). While those New Age “insights” would fit both, they are best expressed through ACIM, which Williamson is now popularizing through Oprah Winfrey’s weekly radio program.
The Shack calls for a similar denial of reality. Yet countless pastors and church leaders are delighting in its message. By ignoring (or redefining) sin and guilt, they embrace an inclusive but counterfeit “Christianity” that draws crowds but distorts the Bible. Discounting Satan as well, they weaken God’s warnings about deception. No wonder His armor for today’s spiritual war became an early victim of this spreading assault on Truth.
“For nearly two thousand years, most professing Christians have seen the Bible as the foundation for the Christian faith. The overall view at the Rethink Conference, however, is thatChristianity, as we have known it, has run its course and must be replaced…. Speakers insisted that Christianity must be re-thought and re-invented if the name of Jesus Christ is going to survive here on planet earth.”
No room for the historical Jesus? Must we reimagine God to make Him fit the rising universal church?
That seems to be the aim of The Shack’s female “God.” Here she is speaking to the main character, Mackenzie (Mack for short):
“For me to appear to you as a woman and suggest that you call me Papa is simply to mix metaphors, to help you keep from falling so easily back into your religious conditioning.”[1,p.93]
“Religious conditioning?” Is that how Mr. Young views Biblical Christianity?
It’s easy to be persuaded by his clever arguments. The Shack is written as a personal testimony that draws readers into virtual dialogues with a playful, culturally relevant “God.” In contrast to the dry, occult lessons in ACIM, The Shack leads readers into vicarious experiences in a world of revelations and sensations. The only sin-like issue here is independence — what ACIM calls “separateness” — a refusal to accept universal oneness with “God” and man. Unhindered by Biblical guidelines, The Shack offers no standard for right or wrong, so there’s no real need for Biblical repentance. It fits right into the popular vision of a unifying, non-judgmental church.
“So how do I become part of that church?” asks Mack.
“It’s simple,” answers the fictional “Jesus.” “It’s all about relationships and simply sharing life… being open and available to others around us. My church is all about people, and life is all about relationships.”[1,p.178]
That sounds partly true, as do most spiritual lies! For example, Jesus criticized the Pharisees who “searched the Scriptures” but refused to “come” to Him. Today’s postmodern seekers are just as foolish. They ignore unwanted Scriptures, and then flock to the culturally attuned “Jesus” of their imaginations.
In The Shack, readers meet a permissive “God” that “submits” to their human ways. They look through the veil between life and death, see the joy beyond, and communicate with loved ones — subtle examples of “calling up the dead,” which the Bible bans (Deut. 18:11). Mack “sees” the colorful “auras” that show spiritual maturity among the dead-but-alive. He even practices astral travel — what The Shack calls “flying” — a word popularized by Maharishi Yogi long ago.
“Such a powerful ability, the imagination!” said The Shack’s fictional “Jesus.” That power alone makes you so like us.”[1,p.140]
Here the boundaries of the church are broadened to include almost everyone. The only exception seems to be “independent” folk who refuse to “come” to this universal “God.” This isn’t Christianity — and this false “Jesus” would agree. When Mack asks him what it “means to be a Christian,” he answer:
“’Who said anything about being a Christian? I’m not a Christian.’ The idea struck Mack as odd and unexpected and he couldn’t keep himself from grinning. ‘No, I suppose you aren’t.'”[1,p.182]
Of course, he’s not! The word “Christian” refers to Christ’s followers — not to Jesus — and it has always clashed with trendy cultures. Even when ‘the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26), that word was a derogatory label used by enemies of the Church. But that didn’t keep faithful Christians from joyfully claiming that name and sharing His Word!.
Reimagining the Trinity
The Shack opens in the context of tragedy. Four years have passed since the cruel murder of Missy, Mack’s precious six-year-old daughter. Enveloped in grief, he receives a strange invitation. “I’ve missed you,” it says. “I’ll be at the shack next weekend if you want to get together. Papa.” What could it mean?
Doubtful, but drawn to the meeting, Mack heads for the Oregon wilderness and finds the dilapidated old shack. “God” miraculously transforms it into a cozy cottage, and Mack meets his supposed maker:
“…the door flew open, and he was looking directly into the face of a large beaming African-American woman. Instinctively he jumped back, but he was too slow. With speed that belied her size, she crossed the distance between them and engulfed him in her arms….”[1,p.82]
“Just as she turned… a small, distinctly Asian woman merged from behind her…. He then glanced past her and notices that a third person had emerged… a man. He appeared Middle Eastern.”[1,p.84]
“When they finally stopped giggling, the large woman… said, ‘Okay, we know who you are, but we should probably introduce ourselves to you. …you could call me what Nan [Mack’s wife] does: Papa.’…
“’And I,’ interrupted the man, who looked to be about in his thirties…. ‘I am Hebrew….’
“Mack was suddenly staggered by his own realization. “Then, you are….”
“Mack stood dumbfounded…. Just as he was about to crumple to his knees, the Asian woman stepped closer and deflected his attention. ‘And I am Sarayu [the Holy Spirit, Creativity].’ she said…
“Thoughts tumbled over each other as Mack struggled to figure out what to do…. Since there were three of them, maybe this was a Trinity sort of thing…. ‘Then,’ Mack struggled to ask, ‘which one of you is God?’”
“’I am,’ said all three in unison.'”[1,p.86-87]
Their ongoing dialogues reinforce this new view of God. They immerse Mack in spiritual re-education, for each comment contradicts his previous understanding of God. For example, this new “Jesus” never returned to heaven. Was there no real resurrection? Not according to the female “God”:
“Although by nature he is fully God, Jesus is fully human and lives as such. While never losing the innate ability to fly [which he demonstrates in the book], he chooses moment-by-moment to remain grounded. That is why his name is Immanuel, God with us….”[1,p.99-100]
But the Bible tells us that Jesus did return to His heaven after His crucifixion. Besides, neither God our Father nor the Holy Spirit made themselves finite or visible to man. “No one has seen God at any time,” said the true Jesus. (John 1:18) Yet, here we see all three in human form — on earth! “God” explains:
“‘By nature I am completely unlimited… I live in a state of perpetual satisfaction as my normal state of existence:’ she said, quite pleased. ‘Just one of the perks of Me being Me.’
“That made Mack smile. This lady was fully enjoying herself…
“We created you to share in that. But then Adam chose to go it on his own, as we knew he would, and everything got messed up. But instead of scrapping the whole Creation we rolled up our sleeves and entered into the middle of the mess—that’s what we have done in Jesus…. When we three spoke ourself into human existence as the Son of God, we became fully human. We also chose to embrace all the limitations that this entailed. …flesh and blood.”[1,p.98-99]
Denying sin, guilt and God’s authority
Unlike the true God, this false trinity exercises no authority over man. That should please today’s postmodern church leaders! They seem to shun words such as “sovereignty” and “authority.” After all, a reigning God who sets the moral standard for all time could cause division. He could impede their main purpose: inclusive relationships and “authentic community.”
No wonder Mack is confused when he asks, “Why would the God of the universe want to be submitted to me?”
“Because we want you to join us in our circle of relationships,” answers “Jesus.” [1,p.145] Together the “trinity” explains:
“Authority, as you usually think of it, is merely the excuse the strong use to make others conform to what they want…. We carefully respect your choices….” [1,p.123]
“‘Are you saying I don’t have to follow the rules?’…
“‘Yes. In Jesus you are not under any law. All things are lawful.‘
“‘You can’t be serious! You’re messing with me again,’ moaned Mack.
“‘Child,’ interrupted papa, ‘you ain’t heard nuthin’ yet.’…
“‘…enforcing rules [says Sarayu] …is a vain attempt to create certainty out of uncertainty. And contrary to what you might think, I have a great fondness for uncertainty. Rules cannot bring freedom; they only have the power to accuse.'”[1,p.203] [ACIM uses the word “attack” instead of “accuse.”]
Are God’s guidelines really “a vain attempt to create certainty?” Of course not! To impress God’s unchanging values in the minds for faithful believers is no “vain attempt.” But there’s plenty of uncertaintyfor those who believe in evolving Truth and adaptable Scriptures. Such “uncertainty” can lay no firm foundation for either peace or confident faith! In fact, many “Christian” pastors today suffer from agonizing doubts — even about the existence of God! Small wonder, when they build their ministries on the shifting sands of people-pleasing “truths,” not on the solid Rock of God’s Word.
In this new story, sin no longer separates unholy people from our holy God. It fits right into postmodern churches that ignore Biblical commands such as “Do not be conformed to the world” and “Abhorevil” (Romans 12:2,9). Chipping away at the reality of sin, guilt and God’s just judgments, this transformational process undermines any real understanding of our need for discernment, repentance or thecross. Even God’s amazing grace becomes meaningless!
“I’m not a bully, not some self-centered demanding little deity insisting on my own way. I am good, and I desire only what is best for you. You cannot find that through guilt or condemnation….”[1,p.126]
“You don’t need me at all to create your list of good and evil. But you do need me if you have any desire to stop such an insane lust for independence…. Mackenzie, evil is a word we use to describe the absence of Good, just as we use the word darkness to describe the absence of Light. …evil and darkness can only be understood in relation to Light and Good; they do not have any actual existence.”[1,p.136]
That’s a lie! Though the wonders of God’s love and promises are vastly beyond our comprehension, He has told us His standard for good and evil — and He will punish those who minimize sin (and thus the need for the cross) or reject His ways and warnings. :
“They are foolish; for they do not know the way of the Lord, the judgment of their God….” Jeremiah 5:4
“You thought I was altogether like you, but I will rebuke you…” Psalm 50:21
“…the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness…. Professing to be wise, they became fools…”Romans 1:18, 22
“Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people— the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not heeded My words….” Jeremiah 6:19
A Course in Miracles [ACIM] echoes those views of authority, sin and guilt:
“Sin is insanity…. Sin is the home of all illusions…. There is no sin.“
“…guilt is always totally insane, and has no reason….”
“The Holy Spirit never commands. To command is to assume inequality, which… does not exist.”[2,p.103]
“…you have let the belief in darkness enter your mind and so you need a new light…. The voice of the Holy Spirit does not command, because it is incapable of arrogance. It does not demand, because it does not seek control.” [2,p.76]
“There is no guilt in you…. Your only calling here is to devote yourself, with active willingness, to the denial of guilt in all its forms…. We are all joined in the Atonement…. So will the world of separation slip away…. For peace is the acknowledgment of perfect purity, from which no one is excluded. Within its holy circle is everyone whom God created as his Son.”[2,p.282-283]
These absurd claims remind me of Ray Yungen wise words, “Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether.”
But God says, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?… ‘Come out from among them and be separate,’ says the Lord.” 2 Cor. 6:14-18
Both books demonstrate a perverted kind of forgiveness — the world’s way of promoting unity and healing apart from the cross. Not only does Mack learn to “forgive” all who have hurt him, he also forgives “God.” As if God had done something wrong!
Following the same reasoning, ACIM’s “Jesus” offers this bit of twisted theology:
“Forgive, and you will see this differently…. These are the words which end the dream of sin, and rid the mind of fear. These are the words by which salvation comes to all the world.”
It may sound loving to claim universal salvation through human forgiveness. But it’s not Biblical! This counterfeit “Jesus” has totally divorced himself from God’s Word — the living Word which is the true Jesus. (See John 1:14)
Our God is Judge as well as Love. And since He is also sovereign and holy, he must deal with the reality of sin. It can’t simply be dismissed or justified. His salvation is only through the Biblical cross, in spite of ACIM’s denials and The Shack’s deceptions. We partake in His atonement (not a New Age atONEment) through Biblical faith, not positive presumptions.
“…if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ.” Galatians 1:9-10
An evolving process hides the unchanging truth
“There is a new world emerging….” writes Tamara Hartzell, author of In the Name of Purpose. “This new world stands against the truth, against the Lord Jesus Christ, and against God. Its rise is coming about in the power and authority and deception of the god of this world (angel of light), who will easily lure the spiritually-prepared masses into worshipping him and his Coming One.”
• relativism is replacing truth
• worldliness is replacing righteousness
• the New Gospel of peace with the world through Oneness is replacing the original Gospel
of peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ
• the New Spirituality is replacing the true faith that comes from the Word of God
• the unity in diversity of Oneness is replacing the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ
• unity-seeking dialogue and spiritual experiences are replacing the Word of God.
It’s not surprising that so few Christians notice or resist this process. Ever since John Dewey and Julian Huxley began to replace factual learning with subjective socialization, our ability to discern error has been undermined. As Donna Garner said, “We now have twenty years of indoctrinated people.”
Leaders inside and outside churches have discovered that facilitated group experiences create new perceptions, which produce corresponding feelings that establish new beliefs. These steps are key to change. The Shack’s “God” agrees:
“Paradigms power perception and perceptions power emotions…. So check our perceptions, and beyond that check the truthfulness of your paradigms — what you believe.”[1,p.197]
“…religion is about having the right answers…. [in contrast] I am about the “You cannot see in your mind’s eye something that you cannot experience.”[1,p.201]
“It is impossible not to believe what you see,” says ACIM’s “Jesus,” “but it is equally impossible to see what you do not believe. Perceptions are built up on the basis of experience, and experience leads to beliefs. It is not until beliefs are fixed that perceptions stabilize. In effect, then, what you believe you do see.”[2,p.207]
Like other virtual experiences, reading The Shack stirs the imaginations of the gullible. It plants perceptions that shape new beliefs in “open” minds. What few realize is that the end of this process will be a bit like Pinocchio’s experience. The cruel tempter had promised Pinocchio all kinds of fun and food on “Pleasure Island.” But when he arrived, he changed into a donkey and became a slave.
In the midst of today’s deadly deceptions, the true God offers hope:
“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-36
See COMMENTS on this page.
You may want to read our rebuttal to an article dealing with the same issues.
1. William Young, The Shack (Windblown Media, 2007), www.theshackbook.com
2. A Course in Miracles, “dictated” by a demonic spirit guide who called himself “Jesus” (Foundation for Inner Peace, 1976), 149.
3. Roger Oakland, “My Trip to the Rethink Conference,” January 2008, http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c73.shtml
6. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Silverton, OR: Lighthouse Trails Publishing Company, 2002), page 101.
9. Tamara Hartzell, “Are you ‘”Being led away ‘with the Error of the Wicked’ to the New Age Ark of Oneness?” February 2008.
A Study of Catholic Practice and Doctrine
Mary Ann Collins (A Former Catholic Nun)
Jesus said that the truth will set us free. (John 8:32) However, He did not say that the truth would necessarily be easy to accept. It was painful for me to learn the information that I am about to share with you, but it was also liberating and it led to a closer relationship with God.
As a faithful Catholic, and later as a nun, I practiced Mary worship for many years without realizing it. The prayers and practices were so familiar. They were taught to me by good people, sincere people that I trusted. I prayed rosaries and wore a scapular and engaged in other “devotions” which I honestly thought were good and pleasing to God. Because of my lack of knowledge of the Bible and of Church history, I honestly had no idea that I was actually worshipping Mary.
If modern Catholic teachings and doctrines about Mary are true, then they will not be contrary to Scripture, the writings of the Early Fathers, or the decrees of past popes. For a devout Catholic to question these issues and put them to the test can be painful. It certainly was for me. However, it would be far more painful to have God correct us when we face Him on Judgment Day.
LETTING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH SPEAK FOR ITSELF
I believe in letting people speak for themselves. Therefore my primary sources about Catholic doctrines and history come from the Catholic Church.
First and foremost is the official Catechism of the Catholic Church which was written for the purpose of summarizing the essential and basic teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. It was approved by Pope John Paul II in 1992 and the English translation was released in 1994. The latest English edition was printed in 2000. Most of my other sources are either practicing Catholics or else former Catholics whose approach is loving and respectful and who have thoroughly documented their work.
When I cite the Catechism I will give paragraph numbers rather than page numbers. I will summarize what it says. If you want to see the paragraphs for yourself, there are two web sites with search engines for the Catechism. (Their addresses are given in the Notes.) You can search by topic or by paragraph number. 
Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
If you really want to understand Catholic teaching in the light of Scripture and the history of the Catholic church, then I strongly recommend reading the following two books. The authors are former Catholics who love and respect Catholics. They are gentle and respectful in their approach. (See the Bibliography for information about these books.)
The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God, by James G. McCarthy. This book is easy to read, well documented, objective, and gentle. It is a comprehensive guide to Catholic beliefs, based on Catholic sources. It examines Catholic teachings in the light of Scripture.
The Church of Rome at the Bar of History by William Webster. This book compares modern Catholic doctrines with the teachings of the early Church.
For a good overview of Catholicism, I recommend the video Catholicism: Crisis of Faith. A friend of mine said that in one hour, this video gave him a better understanding of Catholicism than he had received from a college course on the subject. This video is gentle and respectful. An annotated transcript is available on‑line. (Information about videos follows the Bibliography.)
WILL THE REAL CATHOLIC CHURCH PLEASE STAND UP?
When I was in the convent, our mother superior told us about Catholics in Mexico who, in their devotion to Mary, were doing things that we would only do when worshipping God. We were concerned about this. We considered this practice to be unusual and unbalanced. We thought that the American practice of Catholicism was the true thing. However, many years later I realized that if you want to know what something really is, then look at how it behaves when it is in a position of power. In America, Catholics are in the minority. To see the true spirit behind Catholicism, watch what the Catholic Church does in countries where it is in power.
One place where the Catholic Church is strong is Spain, which is known for the Spanish Inquisition. I always thought that the Inquisition was ancient history. However, the last official Spanish execution for heresy occurred in 1826. A schoolmaster was hanged because he substituted the phrase “Praise be to God” in place of “Ave Maria” (“Hail Mary”) during school prayers. 
I always thought that abuses of power by the Catholic Church were something that happened long ago. However, look at the following example from the Philippines, where the Catholic Church is strong.
Beginning in 1948 there was a series of apparitions of Mary in the city of Lipa. These apparitions were sometimes accompanied by showers of rose petals and other supernatural phenomena. They occurred in a convent. The local bishop personally experienced a shower of rose petals and thereafter supported the apparitions. The media mocked the supernatural events in Lipa and street vendors sold phony “holy rose petals.” In response to the bad publicity, the Vatican sent a Papal Administrator to take over the diocese where the apparitions occurred. He replaced the bishop and the mother superior. The nun who saw the apparitions was forced to leave the convent. The nuns were ordered to destroy all materials associated with the apparitions, including a statue. The convent was sealed and the nuns were not allowed to talk to anyone outside the convent. An official Commission of Inquiry was convened, which unanimously ruled that the apparitions were not valid. However, they did not interview anybody who had personal, first-hand knowledge of the events. Several of the bishops who were part of the Commission of Inquiry stated on their deathbeds that the Papal Administrator had forced them to sign the verdict by threatening to excommunicate them if they did not sign it. 
After years of no longer being a Catholic, I attended a Catholic funeral. When I went into the church something hit me hard. It had always been there, but I had never noticed it before because I was used to it. There were statues of Mary and the saints. They looked solid, real, as if they represented people of power. Jesus only appeared as a helpless baby in Mary’s arms, as a dead man nailed to a cross, and as little wafers of bread hidden inside a fancy box. Visually and emotionally the message was very clear – if you want real power, if you want someone who can do something for you, then go to Mary and the Saints.
DEVOTION TO MARY
If you want to see what a person’s real priorities are, then watch what they do when their life, or the life of a loved one, is in danger. When Pope John Paul II was shot, while the ambulance was rushing him to the hospital, the Pope was not praying to God or calling on the name of Jesus. He kept saying, over and over, “Mary, my mother!” Polish pilgrims placed a picture of Our Lady of Czestochowa on the throne where the Pope normally sat. People gathered around the picture. Vatican loudspeakers broadcasted the prayers of the rosary. When the Pope recovered, he gave Mary all the glory for saving his life, and he made a pilgrimage to Fatima to publicly thank her. 
Jesus said, “[W]here your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:34) Some statues of Mary have real crowns made of gold. The web sites listed in the Notes show pictures of statues of Our Lady of Fatima and Our Lady of Lourdes wearing crowns.  The statues in the pictures are replicas, and their crowns are ceramic and painted gold. But the crowns on the original statues at Fatima and Lourdes are real crowns made of real gold.
Vast sums of money are spent on some special statues of Mary. For example, the statue of Our Lady of the Pillar in Saragossa, Spain has a crown made of 25 pounds of gold and diamonds, with so many diamonds that you can hardly see the gold. In addition, it has six other crowns of gold, diamonds and emeralds. It has 365 mantles which are embroidered with gold and covered with roses of diamonds and other precious stones. It has 365 necklaces made of pearls and diamonds, and six chains of gold set with diamonds. 
In Sabana Grande, Puerto Rico, preparations are underway to construct a huge statue of Our Lady of the Rosary. Inside the base of the statue there will be chapels, conference rooms, apartments, a food court, and radio and TV stations. There will also be observation decks. This statue will be part of a 500-acre “Mystical City” complex. According to an article in Caribbean Business, this statue “will top at 1,500 feet.” According to an article by the Associated Press, the statue will be 305 feet high.  The discrepancy in numbers can be explained by looking at the Statue of Liberty, which is a 151 foot statue on top of a 154 foot base. Some sources say that the Statue of Liberty is 305 feet high (which includes the height of the base) and some say that it is 151 feet high (which is the height of the actual statue). What we probably have in Sabana Grande is a 305 foot statue with a 1,200 foot base.
I have personally participated in American processions which honored Mary. We walked through the streets following a statue of Mary which was carried on a platform, high up where it was clearly visible. We sang songs in Mary’s honor. We prayed rosaries and other prayers to her. These were small processions. At Fatima, Portugal, crowds of over a million people gather on the anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima. The celebration includes a procession of a million people following a statue of Mary and singing her praises.
One popular prayer in Mary’s honor is the Hail Holy Queen, which is known in Latin as the Salve Regina. It is traditionally included as part of praying the rosary.
For Catholics who are reading this, please try to overcome your familiarity with this text and really look at the words. Doesn’t this sound like worship?
“Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy! Our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping, in this valley of tears. Turn, then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us; and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.”
Alfonsus de Liguori (1696-1787) was a principal proponent of the Marianist Movement, which glorifies Mary. He wrote a book entitled The Glories of Mary which is famous, influential and widely read. In this book, de Liguori says that Mary was given rulership over one half of the kingdom of God; Mary rules over the kingdom of mercy and Jesus rules over the kingdom of justice. De Liguori said that people should pray to Mary as a mediator and look to her as an object of trust for answered prayer. The book even says that there is no salvation outside of Mary. Some people suggest that these views are extreme and not representative of Catholic Church teaching. However, instead of silencing de Liguori as a heretic, the Catholic Church canonized him as a saint and declared him to be a “doctor of the Church” (a person whose teachings carry weight and authority). Furthermore, his book is openly and officially promoted by the Catholic Church, and his teachings have influenced popes. 
Pope Benedict XV said of Mary that “[O]ne can justly say that with Christ, she herself redeemed mankind.”  Pope Pius IX said, “Our salvation is based upon the holy Virgin… so that if there is any hope and spiritual healing for us we receive it solely and uniquely from her.” 
A lay movement called “Vox Populi” (“Voice of the People”) gathers signed petitions to send to the Pope, seeking to have him officially declare that Mary is Co‑Redemptrix. Over six million signatures have been sent to him, representing 138 countries and all seven continents. This doctrine is supported by over 40 cardinals and 600 bishops worldwide. 
The Catholic Church exalts Mary as an idealized, larger-than-life, perfect mother. However, the Bible shows that at one point Mary misunderstood Jesus’ calling to the point that she thought He was insane and she tried to prevent Him from doing what God wanted Him to do. Look at Mark 3:20-34.
“And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said,He is beside himself.’” (Mark 3:20-21, emphasis added)
The New International Version says “His family.” The New King James Version says “His own people.” The King James Version says “his friends.” According to Strong’s Greek/Hebrew Dictionary the Greek word has a variety of meanings, including “kinsmen.” However, we don’t have to depend on the exact meaning of the word here because it will be made clear in verse 31. Strong’s defines “lay hold on” as “to use strength, i.e. seize or retain.” It defines “beside himself” as “become astounded, insane.”
Verses 22 through 30 describe a confrontation between Jesus and the scribes. Then we get back to what is happening with the people who thought that Jesus was out of His mind and were so concerned that they were coming to “lay hold on him” (seize him).
“There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35, emphasis added)
CATHOLIC DOCTRINES ABOUT MARY COMPARED WITH WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS
My sources for this section are the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which has numbered paragraphs. For the sake of simplicity and brevity, I will just sayCatechism plus the number of the paragraph(s). For example, “Catechism 411, 493” means “Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs numbered 411 and 493.”
For each doctrinal category, I will indicate the Catholic doctrine, followed by the appropriate references from the Catechism. I will follow this with quotations from the Bible which relate to the doctrine. For the sake of clarity, I will emphasize some portions of Biblical quotations by using boldface type. The last book in the Bible is called “The Book of Revelation” in Protestant Bibles and “The Apocalypse” in Catholic Bibles. I will refer to it as “Revelation.”
IMMACULATE CONCEPTION — Mary was preserved from all stain of original sin from the first instant of her conception. (Catechism 490-492).
In Luke 1:46-47, Mary said: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.” Mary knew that she needed a savior.
The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was first introduced by a heretic (a man whose teachings were officially declared to be contrary to Church doctrine). For centuries this doctrine was unanimously rejected by popes, Fathers and theologians of the Catholic Church. 
ALL HOLY – Mary, “the All-Holy,” lived a perfectly sinless life. (Catechism 411, 493)
Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Revelation 15:4 says, “Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? For thou only art holy.” Romans 3:10 says, “There is none righteous, no, not one.”
Jesus is the only person who is referred to in Scripture as sinless. Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 1 Peter 2:22 says, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth.”
In contrast, Mary said that God is her Savior. (Luke 1:47) If God was her Savior, then Mary was not sinless. Sinless people do not need a Savior.
In the Book of Revelation, when they were searching for someone who was worthy to break the seals and open the scroll, the only person who was found to be worthy was Jesus. Nobody else in Heaven or on earth (including Mary) was worthy to open the scroll or even look inside it. (Revelation 5:1-5)
PERPETUAL VIRGINITY – Mary was a virgin before, during and after the birth of Christ. (Catechism 496-511)
Matthew 1:24-25 says, “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” “Till” (until) means that after that point, Joseph did “know” (have sexual relations with) Mary. (See Genesis 4:1 where Adam “knew” Eve and she conceived and had a son.)
Jesus had brothers and sisters. The Bible even tells us their names. Matthew 13:54-56 says,
“And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hatch this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?”
Other Scripture verses which specifically refer to Jesus’ brothers are: Matthew 12:46; John 2:12; John 7:3; Acts 1:14; and Galatians 1:19.
I was always taught that “brothers” and “sisters” were general terms that really could refer to any kind of kinsman, including cousins. This is true in the Hebrew language. However, the New Testament is written in Greek, which is an extremely precise language. It makes a clear distinction between the words used to describe family relationships. There is a Greek word which refers to people who are relatives but not of the immediate family, such as aunts, uncles, nephews, nieces and cousins. There are other Greek words which refer specifically to a person’s brother or sister within a family. 
MOTHER OF GOD – Because she is the mother of Jesus, and Jesus is God, therefore Mary is the Mother of God. (Catechism 963, 971, 2677).
The Incarnation means that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. Mary was only the mother of Jesus as man, and not the mother of Jesus as God. According to the Bible, the world was created through Jesus. This was long before Mary was born. Hebrews 1:1-2 says,
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.”
Colossians 1:16-17 says,
“For by him [Jesus] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things [including Mary] were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things [including Mary] , and by him all things consist.”John 8:58 says, “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.” Jesus existed before Abraham was born. That means that He also existed before Mary was born. In John 17:5, Jesus says, “And now O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” So Jesus existed even before the world began. Jesus came first – not Mary.
MOTHER OF THE CHURCH – Mary is the Mother of the Church. (Catechism 963, 975).
Acts 1:13-14 gives a picture of a group of people praying together. Mary is mentioned as one of them, but nothing indicates any special prominence.
“And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Phillip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”
Mary was probably in the Upper Room when the tongues of fire fell upon the 120 disciples. However, she is never mentioned again in the Book of Acts, which is our only historical record of how the Church was born. She is also not specifically identified in the epistles. Paul did send greetings to “Mary”, but that was a common name. (In the Gospels and in the Book of Acts, she is referred to as “Mary the mother of Jesus” to distinguish her from other women named Mary.)
It is notable that John, who took Mary into his home after Jesus was crucified, does not mention her in his epistles, and he only mentions her on two occasions in his Gospel (the wedding at Cana and the crucifixion of Jesus). John mentions Mary Magdalene more than he mentions Jesus’ mother.
ASSUMPTION – At the end of her life, Mary was taken up (“assumed”) body and soul into Heaven. (Catechism 966, 974)
There is no biblical reference to the assumption of Mary. The Gospel of John was written around 90 A.D., which is more than 100 years after Mary was born. (Surely Mary was more than ten years old when Jesus was conceived.) If Mary had been supernaturally assumed into Heaven, wouldn’t John (the disciple that Mary lived with) have mentioned it? When Enoch and Elijah were taken up to Heaven, the Bible recorded it. With Elijah it was recorded in some detail. (See Genesis 6:24 and 2 Kings 2:1‑18.)
The Assumption of Mary was officially declared to be a dogma of the Roman Catholic faith in 1950. This means that every Roman Catholic is required to believe this doctrine without questioning it. However, as we will see, the teaching of the Assumption originated with heretical writings which were officially condemned by the early Church.
In 495 A.D., Pope Gelasius issued a decree which rejected this teaching as heresy and its proponents as heretics. In the sixth century, Pope Hormisdas also condemned as heretics those authors who taught the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary. The early Church clearly considered the doctrine of the Assumption of Mary to be a heresy worthy of condemnation. Here we have “infallible” popes declaring something to be a heresy. Then in 1950, Pope Pius XII, another “infallible” pope, declared it to be official Roman Catholic doctrine. 
CO-MEDIATOR – Mary is the Co-Mediator to whom we can entrust all our cares and petitions. (Catechism 968-970, 2677)
There is only one mediator and that is Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus: Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Hebrews 7:25 says,Wherefore he [Jesus] is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.” Ephesians 3:12 says, “In whom [Jesus} we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.”
If Jesus is constantly interceding for us and He is able to save us “to the uttermost,” (utterly, completely) then He doesn’t need Mary’s help. If we can approach God with “boldness” and “confidence” because of our faith in Jesus, then we don’t need Mary’s help either.QUEEN OF HEAVEN – God has exalted Mary in heavenly glory as Queen of Heaven and earth. (Catechism 966) She is to be praised with special devotion. (Catechism 971, 2675)
Psalm 148:13 says, “Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.” This makes it quite clear thatonly God’s name (not Mary’s) is to be exalted. (In Catholic Bibles the numbering of the chapters and verses of some of the Psalms is slightly different.)
When people tried to give Mary special honor and pre-eminence because she was His mother, Jesus corrected them.
“And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” (Luke 11:27-28)
In chapters four and five of the Book of Revelation, we are given a quite detailed picture of Heaven. God is seated on the throne, surrounded by 24 elders and four living creatures. The Lamb (Jesus) is standing in the center of the throne. Thousands upon thousands of angels circle the throne, singing God’s praises. And Mary is not in the picture at all.
COMPARING CATHOLIC TEACHINGS ABOUT MARY WITH MODERN GODDESS WORSHIP
Goddess worship is not ancient history. It is going on today. It is practiced in Wicca and a variety of modern pagan religions. (Wicca is a religion based on witchcraft. It involves goddess worship, rituals and spells.)
The credibility of goddess worship has been increased through its acceptance by university professors and its incorporation into textbooks. Wiccan doctrines are being promoted in publicly funded, accredited colleges and universities. Nursing school textbooks are overtly promoting goddess worship, including textbooks written by the National League for Nursing (an accrediting agency for nursing schools). 
The following table compares the Mary of Roman Catholic theology and religious practice with the Biblical portrayal of Mary and with the goddess which is worshipped by Wiccans and modern pagans. My information about Wicca comes from the book Wicca: Satan’s Little White Lie by Bill Schnoebelen (who was the high priest of a Wiccan coven before he became a Christian), the World Book, the on-line version of The Encyclopedia Brittanica, and numerous web sites. 
|Humble and obedient. Calls herself “the handmaid of the Lord.”||The Pope officially gave Mary the title “Queen of Heaven” and established a feast day honoring Mary, Queen of Heaven.||Wiccans call their goddess the “Queen of Heaven.”|
|Knew she needed a savior: “And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my saviour.” (Luke 1:47)||“Immaculate Conception” (Mary was conceived sinless, without original sin) and “All-Holy” (Mary lived a sinless life).||Goddesses don’t need salvation. They make the rules.|
|Normal wife and mother who had other children.||“Perpetual Virginity” (Jesus’ brothers and sisters are considered to be cousins).||Goddesses don’t have human children.|
|No biblical evidence that Mary didn’t die like a normal person.||“Glorious Assumption” (Mary was bodily taken up into Heaven).||Goddesses don’t die.|
|Jesus told John to take Mary into his home and take care of her as if she was his own mother.||Catholics are the adopted children of Mary. “Woman behold your son” (John 19:26) is taken to apply literally to every Catholic.||Witches are the adopted, “hidden children” of the Queen of Heaven.|
|Normal woman.||Sometimes pictured standing on a crescent moon, wearing a crown or with a circle of stars around her head.||Moon goddess.|
|Normal woman.||Supernatural (apparitions accompanied by miracles and healings).||Supernatural.|
|Points people to Jesus. Mary said, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.” (John 2:5)||Can make Jesus do things. A full page newspaper ad showing Mary and Jesus says, “He hasn’t denied her anything in 2,000 years. What would you have her ask Him?” This is not official Catholic doctrine but it is a widespread attitude which is encouraged by pious literature.||Points to herself.Wants to be worshipped.|
|Knew that she needed a savior. (Luke 1:47)||Apparitions of “Mary” have promised that if people wear certain objects (such as a Scapular or Miraculous Medal) or say certain prayers then they are guaranteed to go to Heaven. The Catholic Church has not officially approved of these practices, but it has also not discouraged them.||Invoked to make supernatural things happen through witchcraft (the use of special objects and special verbal formulas).Goddesses don’t need a savior.|
Goddess worship has infiltrated main-line Christian denominations. In November 1993, a Re‑Imagining Conference was held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Most of the 2,000 participants were women. This ecumenical church conference was sponsored by and attended by members of over a dozen denominations, including Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Catholics, Lutherans and Methodists. They prayed to Sophia, the goddess of Wisdom, calling her their Creator. They did rituals for this goddess, including a communion service where bread and wine were replaced by milk and honey. They openly rejected the doctrines of the incarnation and the atonement. This conference was repeated in 1996, 1998 and 2000.  An on‑line report (with photographs) is available at http://www.layman.org/layman/news/reimagining‑revival.htm
There are Wiccan web sites with web pages devoted to individual goddesses. The Virgin Mary is included among the goddesses of the following web sites: The Spiral Goddess Grove, The White Moon, and Goddess 2000. They consider Mary to be the “Divine Feminine” and say that for centuries, many people have “blended” their ancient goddesses with Mary. 
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
How did modern Catholic doctrine about Mary wander so far away from the teachings of the Bible and the Early Fathers? Two reasons are the importance given to Church tradition and the doctrine of papal infallibility.
The Catholic Church officially states that Church tradition is equal in authority to the Bible. (Catechism 80, 84, 86, 97) The problem is that Catholic tradition consists of various expressions of worship and belief of the Catholic people. (Catechism 78, 98, 113, 2650, 2661) It is nebulous. It keeps changing. You cannot find it written in one place. You can’t really put your hands on exactly what it is.
The Early Fathers used Scripture as the standard against which they tested Church tradition. The modern Catholic doctrine that Church tradition is equal in authority with the Bible is contrary to the writings of the Early Fathers. 
According to Jesus, Scripture is the plumb line for measuring everything else. He judged religious traditions by comparing them to Scripture. When religious traditions contradicted Scripture, he condemned them. This shows clearly that nothing is equal in authority to Scripture. The Bible stands alone as the standard by which all other things are to be judged.
“Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem. And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault. For the Pharisees, and all the Jews, except they wash their hands oft, eat not, holding the tradition of the elders. And when they come from the market, except they wash, they eat not. And many other things there be, which they have received to hold, as the washing of cups, and pots, brasen vessels, and of tables. Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition. For Moses said, Honour thy father and thy mother; and Whoso curseth father or mother, let him die the death: But ye say, If a man shall say to his father or mother, It is Corban, that is to say, a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; he shall be free. And ye suffer him no more to do ought for his father or his mother; Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” (Mark 7:1-13, emphasis added.)
According to the official teaching of the Catholic Church, Catholic men and women are not allowed to believe what they read in the Bible without checking it out with the Catholic Church. They are required to find out how the bishops of the Church interpret a passage and they are to accept what the bishops teach as if it came from Jesus Christ Himself. They are not allowed to use their own judgment or follow their own conscience. They are required to believe whatever the bishops teach without questioning it. (Catechism 85, 87, 100, 862, 891, 939, 2034, 2037, 2041, 2050)
The Catholic Church teaches that when the bishops officially teach doctrine relating to faith and morals, then God super–naturally prevents them from making any errors. This is called “infallibility.” It applies to official councils, such as the Second Vatican Council. It also applies to other teachings, as long as the bishops and the Pope are in agreement about them. (Catechism 890, 891, 939, 2033, 2034, 2049)
The Pope is said to be infallible whenever he makes an official decree on matters of faith and morals. According to Catholic doctrine, it is impossible for the Pope to teach false doctrine. Catholics are expected to obey the Pope without question even when he is not making an “infallible” statement about doctrine. They are expected to submit their wills and minds to the Pope without question. (Catechism 892, 2037, 2050)
The Early Fathers, and the theologians and canon lawyers of the Middle Ages, never taught that the bishops or the Pope were infallible. This is demonstrated by the fact that in 680 A.D. the Sixth Ecumenical Council condemned a pope as a heretic. It was not until the fourteenth century that the theory of infallibility began to emerge. With the development of this theory came a change in the interpretation of some biblical passages. 
The history of the early Church shows that the Bishop of Rome was considered to be just another bishop. For example, Pope Gregory (590-604 A.D.) explicitly stated that all of the bishops were equal. He specifically repudiated the idea that any one bishop could be the supreme ruler of the Church. 
The claim for papal infallibility does not stand up to the test of history. For example, Pope Zosimus (417-418 A.D.) reversed the pronouncement of a previous pope. He also retracted a doctrinal pronouncement that he himself had previously made. Pope Honorious was condemned as a heretic by the Sixth Ecumenical Council (680-681 A.D.). He was also condemned as a heretic by Pope Leo II, as well as by every other pope until the eleventh century. So here we have “infallible” popes condemning another “infallible” pope as a heretic. In 1870, the First Vatican Council abolished “infallible” papal decrees and the decrees of two “infallible” councils. 
In the seventeenth century, the Catholic church officially condemned Galileo as a heretic because he taught that the earth revolves around the sun. This did not conflict with the Bible or with the teachings of the Early Fathers. However, it was contrary to seventeenth century Catholic theology. The Greek philosopher Aristotle taught that the sun revolves around the earth. Aristotle influenced Thomas Aquinas, a thirteenth century theologian and “doctor of the Church” whose theology had a major impact on the Catholic Church. Some modern astronomers believe that Galileo was right. Others believe that Einstein’s theory of relativity makes the question irrelevant.  Either way, Galileo was not a heretic for disagreeing with Aristotle. The “infallible” pronouncement of the Catholic Church regarding Galileo’s teaching was wrong.
Most people have heard of “papal bulls” and “infallibility.” Have you ever seen what they actually look like? Following is the ending of the bull Ineffabilis Deus in which Pope Pius IX declared the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in 1854:
“Therefore, if some should presume to think in their hearts otherwise than we have defined (which God forbid), they shall know and thoroughly understand that they are by their own judgment condemned, have made shipwreck concerning the faith, and fallen away from the unity of the Church; and, moreover, that they, by this very act, subject themselves to the penalties ordained by law, if, by word or writing, or any other external means, they dare to signify what they think in their hearts.” 
The phrase “subject themselves to the penalties ordained by law” is significant because less than 30 years earlier, a man in Spain was executed for heresy. 
On May 13, 1981, a man shot Pope John Paul II. As the ambulance carried him to the hospital, the Pope kept praying, “Mary, my mother! Mary, my mother!” One year later, the Pope made a pilgrimage to Fatima to thank Our Lady of Fatima for saving his life and to consecrate the entire human race to her.  The video Catholicism: Crisis of Faith shows the Pope kissing the feet of a statue of Mary. 
Millions of pilgrims go to shrines which honor apparitions of Mary. Every year fifteen to twenty million pilgrims go to Guadalupe in Mexico, five and a half million go to Lourdes in France, five million go to Czestochowa (Jasna Gora) in Poland, and four and a half million go to Fatima in Portugal. Special dates draw huge crowds. On August 15, half a million pilgrims go to Czestochowa. On October 13, a million people go to Fatima. On December 12, 1999, five million pilgrims went to Mexico to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. 
Are these pilgrims worshipping Mary? You can observe them and see for yourself, thanks to a video entitled Messages from Heaven. (Information about this video is given following the Bibliography.)
If you watch the video, you will see the Pope bow in front of a painting of Mary and cover the area with incense. You will see a million pilgrims walking in a procession, following a statue of Our Lady of Fatima and singing songs in her honor. You will see several million people in a procession following a painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe. You will see people weeping and raising their arms towards Mary. You will see the largest assembly of bishops and cardinals since the Second Vatican Council, gathered together to join Pope John Paul II in solemnly consecrating the entire world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Our minds can be deceived and so can the minds of bishops and popes. Only the Bible is totally trustworthy. When religious traditions conflict with the plain meaning of Scripture then we need to discard those traditions. We cannot afford to do otherwise, because our eternal destiny is at stake.
The Apostles told the religious leaders of their day, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29b) As an old hymn says, “On Christ the solid rock I stand. All other ground is sinking sand.”If you are not persuaded that Catholicism encourages and even requires a level of “devotion” to Mary that really is a form of worship, then I challenge you to ask God what He thinks about it. If you are sincere in your prayer and open to letting God show you the truth, then He will.
To contact the author, send an e-mail message to MaryAnnCollins@juno.com.
If you would like to discuss specific issues, please contact the following ministry. The members are former Catholics. Their approach is loving, respectful and well informed. Their web site has many documents which you can print, including an annotated transcript of the video Catholicism: Crisis of Faith. Some of their documents are also available in Spanish.
Good News for Catholics
P.O. Box 595
Cupertino, CA 95015
Web Site: http://www.gnfc.org
USING THIS ARTICLE
You have my permission to copy this article, in whole or in part. You have my permission to quote from it. You have my permission to post it on your web site. You have my permission to incorporate the entire article, or portions of it, into publications of your own. You have my permission to sell it for profit. I do not want any fees or royalties or financial remuneration of any kind.
The information in this article is the result of many years of personal struggle and search for truth. I want to make it as easy as possible for people to get this information and to pass it on to anyone who might be helped by it.
May the Lord bless, guide, and reveal His truth to everyone who reads this article.
Mary Ann Collins. July 1, 2001
Aardsma, Gerald E. “Geocentricity and Creation”, Vital Articles on Science/Creation, July 1994, Impact No 253. Santee, California: Institute of Creation Research. It is available on‑line at http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-253.htm.
Anderson, James (Associated Press). “Giant statue of Mary part of shrine plan,” Lexington Herald-Leader, July 17, 1999. This is available on-line with two different titles, at:http://www.kentuckyconnect.com/heraldleader/news/071799/faithdocs/shrine17.htm and http://www.star-telegram.com/news/doc/1047/1:RELIGION64/1:RELIGION64071699.html
Beauclair, Steve. “Skyscraper statue slated for Sabana Grande; $42 million Virgin Mary part of Mystical City,” Caribbean Business, February 26, 1998 (Late News cover story).
Bloesch, Donald G. Essentials of Evangelical Theology, Vol. I. San Francisco, California: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1982. The author is an evangelical Christian. He quotes some papal encyclicals.
Catechism of the Catholic Church. Washington, DC: U.S. Catholic Conference, 2000. This book comes in numerous editions and languages. Because it has numbered paragraphs, statements can be accurately located in spite of the variety of editions.
Davis, Philip G. Goddess Unmasked: The Rise of Neopagan Feminist Spirituality. Dallas, Texas: Spence Publishing Company, 1998. This book can be ordered directly from the publisher (888‑773‑6782).
Heintz, Peter. A Guide to Apparitions of Our Blessed Virgin Mary, Part I, 20th Century Apparitions. Sacramento, California: Gabriel Press. This is a Catholic book. It covers 60 apparitions in detail. It is methodical, with 33 categories of information for every apparition. The book is out of print. According to the publisher (who is now out of business), copies of the book were sent to major Marian institutions. The book can be obtained from the following web site: http://www.marianland.com/101books.html
Hunt, Dave. A Woman Rides the Beast. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1994.
Johnson, Paul. A History of Christianity. New York: Simon & Schuster, a Touchstone Book, 1995. The author is Catholic.
McCarthy, James G. The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1995. The author is a former Catholic.
Queenship Jubilee Year 2000 Catalog. Queenship Marian Center for World Peace. This is a Catholic publication. The catalog has a section called “Vox Populi” where they promote books which support the doctrine that Mary is our Advocate, Mediator, and Co-Redemptrix. They promote petitions asking the Pope to officially give Mary those titles. They promote an inexpensive pamphlet (for wide distribution) which supports those doctrines. They also summarize the status of the petition, giving numbers of people who have signed it, and the numbers of cardinals and bishops that support the doctrines.
Schnoebelen, Bill. Wicca: Satan’s Little White Lie. Chino, California: Chick Publications, 1990. Before his conversion to Christianity, the author was the high priest of a Wiccan coven for over 12 years. He taught and initiated hundreds of Wiccan novices. He shows the truth behind “white” witchcraft and “Earth Religion” including insights which trace the epidemic of child abuse directly to the root of the rapid spread of Wicca.
Tetlow, James. Messages from Heaven. This book is scheduled to be published in the summer of 2001. It can be ordered by phone (877-370‑7770). James Tetlow is a former Catholic. In doing the research for this book, he read literally hundreds of Catholic books about Marian apparitions.
Webster, William. The Church of Rome at the Bar of History. Carlisle, Pennsylvania: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1996. The author is a former Catholic.
Catholicism: Crisis of Faith. Lumen Productions, P.O. Box 595, Cupertino, CA 95015. ISBN Number 0-962-9152-0-3. This video was produced by James G. McCarthy, a former Catholic and the founder of Good News for Catholics. It covers a wide range of issues, including Mary. You can order it through D&K Press (800-777‑8839). An annotated transcript of the English version, with 83 footnotes, is available on‑line at http://www.gnfc.org/transcript.html Information about foreign language versions is available at http://www.gnfc.org/ccf.html
Messages from Heaven. Eternal Productions, P.O. Box 324, Fairport, NY 14450. ISBN Number 1-57341-119-1. This video deals primarily with apparitions of Mary. It also deals with UFOs and angels. The producer is a former Catholic who has read literally hundreds of Catholic books about Marian apparitions. You can order the video by phone (877-370‑7770) or on‑line at http://video.labargemedia.com It is also available at D&K Press (800-777‑8839).
(links may become invalid after time)
 http://www.goddess2000.org/Mary.html http://www.thewhitemoon.com/mary/main.htmlhttp://www.spiralgoddess.com/Mary.html
 James Tetlow, Messages from Heaven, Chapter 1. Mr. Tetlow also produced a video with the same title. If you can afford to get both, I would recommend it. The book gives a lot of information and it is thoroughly documented. The author is a former Catholic. The book and video are respectful and gentle in their approach.
[Reprinted by Permission]
Original Source: http://www.biblebelievers.com/bennett/bennett_mary-worship.html
“Are you a fundamentalist preacher?”
“No. A fundamentalist is somebody who stops listening. There are fundamentalist Christians, fundamentalist Jews, fundamentalist Muslism, fundamentalist atheist, fundamentalist Secularist…. Its an attitude that doesn’t listen to anyone else.” “God get’s enjoyment out of watching you be you. [-speaking to Colbert turns God’s Word into jokes] … When my children were little, I used to watch them sleep at night…. I got so much pleasure out that, cause I made them. I’m their Daddy…. When you be you, God looks down and He goes, ‘That’s my boy!'” … [ed: Even if you’re not “born again” into His family?]
“If you ask Jesus to come into your life, will he?”
“Absolutely.” [ed: Even if you’ve never been convicted of sins, learned about the Biblical Jesus, repented, or heard the true whole Gospel?]
This preview was prompted by the following note from Lighthouse Trails Research Project:
January 10, 2006: According to a news story in the January 8th edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Rick Warren says Christian fundamentalism will be an enemy of the 21st century.
Excerpt from article: “Warren predicts that fundamentalism, of all varieties, will be ‘one of the big enemies of the 21st century.’ … ‘Muslim fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism, Jewish fundamentalism, secular fundamentalism – they’re all motivated by fear. Fear of each other.’ “
What does Rick Warren define Christian Fundamentalism to be?
In a May 2005 interview between Rick Warren and the Pew Forum on Religion, Warren stated:
“Today there really aren’t that many Fundamentalists left; I don’t know if you know that or not, but they are such a minority; there aren’t that many Fundamentalists left in America … Now the word ‘fundamentalist’ actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity.” Quote by Rick Warren, May 2005
What are those Five Fundamentals of the faith?
1. The Deity of our Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:1; John 20:28; Hebrews 1:8-9).
2. The Virgin Birth (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23; Luke 1:27).
3. The Blood Atonement (Acts 20:28; Romans 3:25, 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:12-14).
4. The Bodily Resurrection (Luke 24:36-46; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 15:14-15).
5. The inerrancy of the scriptures themselves (Psalms 12:6-7; Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20).
“When a human body is out of balance we call that disease…. Likewise, when the body of Christ becomes unbalanced, disease occurs…. Health will occur only when everything is brought back into balance. The task of church leadership is to discover and remove growth-restricting diseases and barriers so that natural, normal growth can occur.” Rick Warren,The Purpose Driven Church, page 16.
Scott Peck, famed author of The Road Less Traveled, used the same analogy. “There’s a term therapists use; it’s ‘resistance,” he wrote in Reflections on Leadership, “which refers to people who don’t like to or want to be healed or converted, so they resist.”[5, page 92]
Yes, those who trust the fundamental truths in God’s Word for guidance will look like enemies to church leaders who demand conformity to man’s social guidelines. Those who refuse to compromise their faith cannot share the global vision for pluralistic solidarity. Unwilling to set aside God’s “divisive” old truths, they cannot march to the drum beat of facilitators trained to manipulate minds and mold collective thinkers.
Here are a few links and summaries that expose the conflict and confusion that surround the word “fundamentalism.” The first link offers a Biblical definition and explanation. The others expose the world’s hatred for Biblical truth:
Are We Fundamentalists? There are now two kinds of evangelical…. The old is the authentic, biblical position. The new is far off the track, not in its basic view of salvation, but in its readiness to compromise with doctrinal error and worldly ways. The new is selling the faith for earthly respect and recognition… and churches are being ruined.
“Today, old-style evangelicals are in the minority…. This booklet attempts to give a clear picture of the present alarming scene, in order to encourage believers to take a clear stand.
“Old -style evangelicals are often called fundamentalists, particularly in the USA. New -style evangelicals adopted the term, ‘new evangelical’ to describe themselves in the 1950s. …We are told that the fundamentalist label was first coined in America in 1920 to describe militant evangelicals. … It would be fairer to say that fundamentalist is someone who cares about the defense and preservation of the Gospel…” More
Postmodernism and You: “To the majority of Americans below fifty today, questioning the truthfulness of another’s religious views is intolerant and morally offensive. This prohibition against differing with other’s viewpoints is postmodern. Strangely, it turns out that one exception is allowed…. it’s okay to question and even denounce religious views when dealing with what is pejoratively labeled ‘fundamentalism.’ Today, when people refer to ‘fundamentalists’ they no longer mean just religious extremists like the Shiites waging holy war against the West. Today, fundamentalism may refer to anyone who claims to know truth or who charges another religion with falsehood.” See
Ministries will Restructure, as will Churches, Businesses, Individuals, and Families: “While preparing to minister in Dallas on January 5, I heard the Holy Spirit very clearly say, ‘Tell them…’ I quickly grabbed a pen and wrote the following as it was given to me:
“‘Opposition to the apostolic and prophetic will also be the greatest this year.’ He is going to expose wineskins (new or old) and religious spirits, taking off the masks of those who oppose His move. Those who refuse to move in current truth will begin to openly criticize leaders in the Body of Christ that are moving in the flow of the apostolic and the prophetic. Some have been doing so in a very subtle way, but this year, it will become obvious. When they do, God is going to begin to judge them….
“‘I must bring further changing of paradigms, not just to those who have not been moving in the flow of My Spirit, but even to those who are in the flow of My Spirit.’ I heard Him say, “Restructure, Restructure, Restructure.”
“Ministries will restructure, churches will restructure, businesses will restructure, individuals will restructure (the way they do things, their time, the way they think, and the way they operate), and families will restructure.
“Teaching on the kingdom of God will bring about great changes of paradigms, taking us back to the original mandate of Genesis…. Kingdom theology is going to be at the forefront.”
Fundamentalism Education Project (link apparently obsolete): “The growing influence of fundamentalist religious movements poses a challenge to our mainstream religious communities, civic freedoms, and our safety and well-being. This phenomenon is of concern to mainstream religious leaders and their congregations because fundamentalists create sharp divisions among communities of faith…. Religious clergy and lay people have immense interest in understanding and exposing how fundamentalists distort the inclusive messages within Christianity, Judaism, and Islam…
“Understanding and countering this phenomenon is important for all of us…. The Texas Faith Network is organizing the Fundamentalism Education Project to provide resources for clergy, lay people, activists and others about religious fundamentalism, and to energize and organize religious leaders to rightfully reclaim the compassionate and tolerant foundations within their respective religious traditions.” This fits right into UNESCO’s Declaration on the role of religion.
Bush, Gorbachev, Shultz and Soviet Education: “‘There really is only one sin–separateness,’ Corinne McLaughlin states in her book. ‘…war is more likely to spring from rampant nationalism, ethnocentrism, and intolerant religious fundamentalism — all extreme and separative attitudes…. [A} primary cause of the earth’s suffering is that humanity is caught in the illusion of separation…. What is needed as a cure for separateness is a deep sense of community — that we’re all in this together.’ Mikhail Gorbachev shares her contempt for nationalism and religious fundamentalism, i.e. Biblical Christianity.”
Why 9-11? “…after the Oklahoma City bombing and after the downing of TWA Flight 800, the Clinton administration’s FBI put out a report on terrorism. It was called Project Megiddo. And it explained… that right-wing Christian terrorists posed the gravest danger to the republic and were most likely to incite violence in the months and years ahead…. Right-wing Christians were the perceived threat. They were the enemy. Islamists got short shrift in the FBI report.” John 16:2 and Preparing for Persecution
The UN Plan for Your Mental Health: “Children who refuse to conform may be considered handicapped. According to a Teacher Training Manual from the National Training Institute for Applied Behavioral Science, ‘Although they appear to behave appropriately and seem normal by most cultural standards, they may actually be in need of mental health care in order to help them change, adapt, and conform to the planned society in which there will be no conflict of attitudes or beliefs.'”
Anarchist website targets Christians: “The American Family Association is likened to Afghanistan’s fundamentalist Taliban movement at the website infoshop.org, which describes itself as ‘your online anarchist community.’… It invites visitors to ‘join us as we kick some dirt into their graves, burying their hideous fascism once and for all.'” Matt 24:9
Redefining ‘terrorism’ threatens our liberty: “In the Dec. 17 Newsweek, Anna Quindlen draws first blood in her column ‘The Terrorists Here at Home.’ What ‘terrorists’ does she refer to? Abortion opponents, whom she characterizes as ultraviolent. Quindlen writes: ‘There’s no real ideological difference between these people and the people who flew planes into the World Trade Center….’ By blurry implication, she tars the entire pro-life movement as violent.” Luke 6:22-23
Christianity Under Siege: The Stones Cry Out: “Around the world, Christians not only are being subjected to name calling, they also are being denied basic rights. They are being killed or forcibly converted to Islam. In the United States they are one way or another being forced to convert to a brand of secular humanism gleaned from Hegel, Marx, Freud,Marcuse, Gramsci, Dewey, Maslow, Rogers and Darwin and the entire pantheon of secular gods. If they are not converted, they are silenced in a thousand subtle and not so subtle ways. …” See Preparing for Persecution, Luke 6:22-23 and The Mainstream Media
Christians a ‘hate group’ (link apparently obsolete): “Much of the manual prepared by President Bill Clinton’s attorney general, already used to indoctrinate an untold number of law enforcement agencies in this state, has stirred disquiet in the ranks of the West Virginia Family Foundation…. Under ‘hate group ideology’ identification, for instance, it is written, ‘Homophobia recently has been added to their agenda.’ …The same section identifies some hate-mongers as those who ‘blame the federal government, an international Jewish conspiracy or communism for most of this country’s problems.’
“Another catch phrase which has crept into the vocabulary of hate crime law advocates is ‘domestic terrorism.’ An 8-hour course, billboarded on the West Virginia State Police Academy, is titled simply ‘Domestic Terrorism,’ and topics advertised are ‘philosophies of hate and anti-government groups,’ and threats such people pose.” See Clinton’s War on Hate Bans Christian Values
The Enemy of The People? (After Oklahoma Bombing)
“Day after day, the media’s accusing pens pointed to suspected foes of American togetherness — those whose ‘enraged rhetoric’ had created a national ‘climate of hate and paranoia.’ … ‘Their coalition,” said Time, ‘included well known-elements of far-right thought: tax protesters, Christian homeschoolers, conspiracy theorists…’ All were implicated, for all had questioned the government’s growing control over local schools, private property, and personal lives.’… ”
We shouldn’t be surprised. The Bible tells us that ‘the whole world is under the control of the evil one,’ and he has always despised God and His people. Today, as our culture shifts to the global paradigm, political and educational ‘change agents’ are turning biblical values upside down.
“Emotional appeals work. It’s easier to shout, ‘Stop spreading hate!’ than to encourage rational debate. It’s more effective to discredit discerning citizens by linking them to violent anarchists than to give factual answers to legitimate questions. It’s quicker to invalidate unwanted information by tying it to wild speculations than to provide honest responses — especially when facts and truth would undermine the planned transformation.
“History has shown that nothing crushes well-informed resistance faster than well-planned disinformation and false accusations. Nothing unifies a nation faster than a common enemy. Hitler knew those lessons well. He had watched the Bolshevik Revolution. His book, Mein Kampf, explains the winning strategies to any future revolutionary. Notice his insight into group psychology:
‘The art of truly great popular leaders in all ages has consisted chiefly in not distracting the attention of the people, but concentrating always on a single adversary…. It is part of a great leader’s genius to make even widely separated adversaries appear as if they belonged to one category, because… the recognition of various enemies all too easily marks the beginning of doubt of one’s own rightness.’
“Hitler focused his fury on an influential, well educated ethnic group whose religious beliefs opposed his own.”It was a stroke of genius on the part of Hitler to find this common denominator in the Jew,’ explains the Encyclopaedia Britannica. ‘This enabled him to discover the Jew behind all his changing adversaries… in short, behind everybody and everything that at a given moment opposed his wishes or aroused his wrath.'” See Preparing for Persecution
From Mary Thompson: “…’absolutism] in the pursuit against ‘absolutism/fundamentalism’ is a contradiction in terms which seems to escape them. By lumping every profession of faith, without discernment, they create another form of absolutism of their own making. Their ‘fundamentalism’ is the denial of the existence of absolute Truth itself. They will use any militant ‘ism’ in the quest to denigrate fundamental Christianity, the real target.”
Megashift (by Jim Rutz): “Pew warmers are passé. They’re stuck at half past yesterday and simply are not ready for the high demands of the current explosion.” Page 87
“Why should we keep changing? Because the world is changing daily…. Old wineskins simply will not hold new wine.” 142
Finally, a memorable warning by Rev. Dr. Martin Niemoeller, written July 1, 1937. Niemoeller, a committed Christian pastor who refused to conform to Hitler’s rules for churches, was arrested by the Third Reich and probably tortured and killed within its cruel system for punishing dissenters.
“In Germany, they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the Trade Unionist, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time, no one was left to speak up.”
THE EMERGENT CHURCH MOVEMENT – Part One:
THE METHODS USED BY ONE OF ITS PRIMARY LEADERS
by Richard Bennett
The Emergent Church Markets Catholicism
Not since the Jesus Movement of the early 1970s has a Christian phenomenon been so closely entangled with the self-conscious cutting edge of U.S. culture. Frequently urban, disproportionately young, overwhelmingly white, and very new–few have been in existence for more than five years–a growing number of churches are joining the ranks of the “emerging church.”
Thus declared Christianity Today in its article, “The Emergent Mystique”.1 While this new movement is permeating modern Evangelical circles in the Western world, few seem to understand its essential modus operandi. Careful analysis shows it to be a theory that repudiates any single defining source for truth and reality beyond the individual.
Emergent Church in its larger context
The Emergent Church movement did not start and does not operate in a vacuum. Hence to evaluate its function in the larger context, it is essential to understand that thirty-five years ago, the Roman Catholic Church published its non-negotiable agenda on ecumenism in its Post Vatican Council II documents. A crucial passage states,
“…ecumenical dialogue is not limited to an academic or purely conceptual level, but striving for a more complete communion between the Christian communities [churches], a common service on the Gospel and closer collaboration on the level of thought and action, it serves to transform modes of thought and behavior and the daily life of those communities. In this way, it aims at preparing the way for their unity of faith in the bosom of a Church one and visible: thus ‘little by little’, as the obstacles to perfect ecclesial communion are overcome, all Christians will be gathered, in a common celebration of the Eucharist, into that unity of the one and only Church which Christ bestowed on his Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, dwells in the Catholic Church as something she can never lose…”2
Thus rather than looking for unity based on truth, the Papacy, as ever, is seeking to secure visible outward conformity through the compromise of others.This is the larger context into which the Emergent Church is set.
A man for the ecumenical season
Brian McLaren is the pastor of the non-denominational church he founded in the late 1980’s and a leading spokesman for Emergent-US, a dominant group within the Emerging Church movement. As such, he is a prime example of the success of the Catholic ecumenical agenda, a fact is well demonstrated by the strategy of this particular leader. McLaren’s website bio states that he obtained both a B.A. and an M.A. in English from the University of Maryland. He has had no formal degree from any seminary, other than an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Carey Theological Seminary in Vancouver, BC, Canada in 2004. His academic interests, listed as including “Medieval drama, Romantic poets, modern philosophical literature, and the novels of [Roman Catholic] Dr. Walker Percy”, have fitted him well for the task at hand.
Leaning heavily on Roman Catholic writers, particularly G. K. Chesterton and his book, Orthodoxy3, McLaren has written a book entitled A Generous Orthodoxy. Here he moves beyond Chesterton’s censure of Calvinism and sponsorship of mysticism to present what he thinks is a whole new method of knowing Christian truth, i.e., through Eastern mysticism. But to sell this mindset to the Protestants with their memory verses intact and their Bibles in hand, his approach to them is pitched on a strongly subjective level. This subtle tactic is part of the methodology of ecumenism spelled out in 1970 in Post Vatican Council II documents.
Bitterness against his heritage
At the outset, McLaren classes his book as “confessional”, which gives him latitude to express his opinions without the necessity to give any formal argument.4 Indeed, he states, “you should know that I am horribly unfair in this book, lacking all scholarly objectivity and evenhandedness.” Excusing himself on the basis of his heritage, he goes on, “I am far harder on conservative Protestant Christians who share that heritage than I am on anyone else. I’m sorry. I am consistently over sympathetic to Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, even dreaded liberals, while I keep elbowing my conservative brethren in the ribs in a most annoying–some would say ungenerous–way. I cannot even pretend to be objective or fair.”5 Here the author shows by his own admission what amounts to bitterness against his conservative Protestant heritage and the personal context out of which A Generous Orthodoxy arises. While this same book is being hailed by many admirers as the “manifesto” or public declaration of the Emergent Church movement, the larger context in which it is set is the ecumenical movement of the Roman Catholic Church–as the Papacy moves to regain the loss of her political empire, i.e., the Holy Roman Empire, which loss she suffered at the hand of the Reformation three and a half centuries ago. Since the Papacy thinks in terms of centuries6 rather than decades, it is not too much to think that among Protestants, Brian McLaren (and Rick Warren as well) could be very useful to the larger papal cause.
McLaren says his book is addressed primarily to those who are ready to give up Christianity altogether, but encourages them not to do so. The basis on which he encourages them, however, first involves insulting the conservative Protestants’ and Pentecostals’ view of Jesus with their insistence on individual salvation or “a personal savior”. He then points them approvingly to his definition of the Roman Catholic “Jesus”, including the Liberation Theology “Jesus” and liberal Protestant “Jesuses”.
Next, McLaren is bold enough to re-define the Holy God. He does this by making a distinction between “God A” and “God B” via the present gender pronoun dispute. He writes,
“Think of the kind of universe you would expect if God A created it: a universe of dominance, control, limitation, submission, uniformity, coercion. Think of the kind of universe you would expect if God B created it: a universe of interdependence, relationship, possibility, responsibility, becoming, novelty, mutuality, freedom.” (p. 76)
By this fictitious contrast he entices his readers to choose between two highly subjective conceptions of a god of his own imagination. That done, he has set his standard of truth, which is not the inerrant Word of God, but rather his own current theory.
Harmful, offensive tactics disclosed
McLaren also informs the reader that, “as in most of my other books…I have gone out of my way to be provocative, mischievous, and unclear, reflecting my belief that clarity is sometimes overrated.”7 Further, he fully intends that “shock, obscurity, playfulness, and intrigue”8 are all to be a part of the style of his book. His tone is also highly reflective of Roman Catholic Chesterton’s own style. The springboard of permissive subjectivity laid, McLaren demonstrates his understanding of Christianity in the major section of his book, “The Kind of Christian I Am”. He claims to be many kinds of Christian simultaneously.
His method is usually to launch his bitterness against conservative Protestants by carefully assigning a major focus of his own choosing to that particular group and then redefining whatever words or terms delineate the target group. Under the new definition, which usually is nearly totally opposite of the original definition, he then declares himself to be one of that group, as “Fundamentalist/Calvinist”, “Methodist”, “evangelical”, “Charismatic/Contemplative”, “Liberal/Conservative”, “catholic”, “green”, “biblical”, “(Ana)baptist/Anglican”, “Mystical/Poetic”, “incarnational”, “missional”, etc. An instance of his tactic is when he defines Calvinists by their acrostic TULIP, which he clearly detests. Using the same letters, he makes a parody of the acrostic–which totally redefines it in a way antithetical to what TULIP commonly means–and on the sole basis of his redefinition calls himself a Calvinist.
Another group he dislikes are the Fundamentalists, or “fighting fundies”, from whom he says he will take the term, “fighting”. He now claims that this word is his legitimate heritage from them, and therefore he can “fight” for his own cause under the name of Fundamentalist–although what he is fighting for is directly opposed to Fundamentalists. Hence he has defined himself as a “Fundamentalist/Calvinist”, but what he means by those terms is totally different from what is commonly meant by them. In this way, he shows how his unbiblical method deliberately foments confusion and division. By contrast, however, he does not basically re-define the terms of the groups he likes, such as the liberal Protestants, Catholics, mystics, and environmentalists, all of which he also claims to be, except Roman Catholic. There is good reason for this: he claims to be “Post/Protestant”, retaining then in the larger ecumenical debate the legitimacy of his heritage to protest–but not to protest Roman Catholicism, as classically the term Protestant has meant in its historical context, but rather to protest against the conservative Protestants of his own day. It should be noted that his chief sources of authority in nearly every chapter are Roman Catholic, particularly G. K. Chesterton.
Relative and qualified compromise
Although McLaren denies that he is a relativist, his explanations give him away. He states,
“How do you know if something is true?…First, you engage in spiritual practices like prayer, Bible reading, forgiveness, and service. Then you see what happens; you remain open to experience. Finally, you report your experience to others in the field of spirituality for their discernment, to see if they confirm your findings or not.”9
In another place, McLaren redefines theology. He does this by drawing heavily from Vincent Donovan, a Roman Catholic missionary priest. Donovan came to the conclusion that “praxis [practice] must be prior to theology” and that his theology would be derived from his theory that was derived out of his experience with pagans.10 McLaren enlarges Donovan’s (and others’) definition to “rather than seeing missiology (the study of missions) within theology, theology is actually a discipline within Christian mission. Theology is the church on a mission reflecting on its message, its identity, its meaning.”11 McLaren has thus redefined theology. In short, McLaren says that mission defines theology rather than theology defines mission. His standard is pragmatism, or “what works”, rather than the absolute authority of Scripture. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself said, “The scripture cannot be broken.”12 “Is not my word like as a fire? saith the Lord; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?”13 McLaren’s assertion that theology is actually a discipline within Christian mission is an utter denial of absolute truth as it is revealed in Scripture. Like the existentialists before him, McLaren has clearly denied biblical faith.
Adding fuel to his relativism
McLaren also shows that he is denying biblical authority when he states, “The earliest Protestants [meaning those of the Reformation of the sixteenth century] transferred the fulcrum or center of authority from the church to the Bible (which the…invention of an improved press facilitated greatly). But the Bible requires human interpretation, which was a problem…”14. Here McLaren totally ignores the fact that Scripture is to be interpreted by Scripture, as Psalm 36:9 explains, “for with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.” God’s truth is seen in the light of God’s truth, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”15
Having left Scriptural truth behind, McLaren now lays the groundwork for his theory by which he hopes, in the words of Vatican Council II, to remove one of “the obstacles to ecclesial communion”. His theory is that both Conservative and Liberal Protestants have trouble accepting the authority of the Bible in the “post-evangelical” or “post-modern” or “post-liberal” world in which their civil, political views are based in their religious convictions, causing a polarization between them. Of this, he says, both groups must repent because “[both] having survived in different ways the rough waters of modernity, they are now facing a new challenge: working together to save the village which we call planet Earth.”16 His own religion-based solution to what he casts as a civil and political problem that liberal and conservative Protestants have made is to say that times have changed and it is now necessary to change the norm of biblical interpretation accordingly. This is most interesting, since this is the same modus operandi as Papal Rome. In the beginning of her latest Catechism, the Vatican states, “Read the Scripture within the ‘living Tradition of the whole Church.'”17 Then Rome goes so far as to reprimand those who stray because she states there is “…the tendency to read and to interpret Sacred Scripture outside the Tradition and Magisterium of the Church.”18 McLaren is in the early stages of presenting the same protocol as Papal Rome. But then, Rome said that the induction of Protestant churches was to be “little by little” as their thinking was changed by dialogue with Catholics.
McLaren Reshapes History
In trying to lump liberals and conservatives together, McLaren also shows his prejudice against Evangelicalism by strongly insinuating that the Reformation of the sixteenth century was the beginning of believers placing their trust in the written Word of God.19 He is wrong about this, as the history of the Vaudois, Albigenses, and Waldenses show. His point is that there is a shift today away from the emphasis on the authority of the Bible (he leaves out the word “alone”), just as in the time of the Reformation there was a shift away from the authority of the Roman Catholic Church to the Bible. His attack on Martin Luther is to show him only as an individualist who would not bow to Catholic authority–but that is not why Martin Luther is important in church history. He states that in the context of “Martin Luther’s famous individualistic statement, uttered before the Catholic authorities with whom he disagreed, expresses this shift perfectly: Here I stand. That sentence might be understood as the first statement uttered in the modern world.”20 Here McLaren uses historical fact to chip away at individual salvation, which will dovetail nicely into his argument for emphasis on universal salvation. He totally neglects the content of Martin Luther’s historic position–which was to stand for justification by faith alone based in the authority of the Bible alone. In this way, he is able to use Martin Luther as simply a man of another time, not relevant for today because that time, which he calls modern, is now over. What he has failed to comprehend is that the biblical truth that justification is by faith alone is timeless. But McLaren’s opinion falls directly in line with the 1999 concordat between the Roman Catholic Church and the German Lutheran Federation in which it was declared that Lutherans and Catholics now agree on the issue of justification by faith alone and that the Reformation was a mistake.
McLaren mum on the Inquisition
What McLaren never tells is that the authority of the Roman Papacy was not well established until near the end of the eleventh century, when by crusades and the Inquisition, the Papacy by coercion forced people to submit to her ecclesiastical dictates. Many refused. Uncountable millions were robbed, tortured, and martyred because they held to the authority of the Bible in those bloody centuries and refused to accept Roman Catholic doctrines and traditions. At one point, McLaren admits that he is being unfair in his presentation of English history, but he does not apologize or correct his illicit revision of historical fact.
Nor does McLaren mention that it was the Papacy that locked away the Bible from the common people during the Middle Ages with their version in Latin, which only the clergy could have.21 Nevertheless, it is a well established historical fact that even in the fourth century, the bishops of Milan of Northern Italy were in no way subject to the bishops of Rome. The historical record shows that they used the Bible alone as their authority, having only two sacraments, baptism and communion, prayed to God alone, and allowed no images of the Deity. 22 The Vaudois of the Cottian Alps in that same area were by the ninth century known for their apostolic faith in the Bible alone, as Claude, bishop of Turin makes clear. The tenants of these ancient churches of the Alps were well demonstrated by their faith and practice to be essentially the same as those proclaimed by the Reformers of the sixteenth century. The same is true of the Albigenses, against whom the Papacy sent its first domestic crusade in the twelfth century. Thomas M’Crie gives an amazingly similar report of historical facts regarding the pre-Reformation believers in Spain in the sixth century. 23 The historical facts show that from early on the Church of Rome was the schismatic. It remains the same today. Her corruptions-become-traditions, spread by the Papacy during the centuries of the Holy Roman Empire, are now flowering in that same Papacy’s new tactic of “ecumenical outreach”. It is an entirely logical development that the open welcome of Eastern mysticism by Vatican Council II24 into this four-hundred-fifty year old apostate system25 should transfer a yet more potent strain of mysticism through her ecumenical outreach to those who have not received a love of the truth.
McLaren plays by Vatican Council II rules
In adopting this all inclusive format, McLaren is certainly playing by the rules for dialogue laid out by Vatican Council II, which states, “Each partner [in the dialogue] should seek to expound the doctrine of his own community in a constructive manner, putting aside the tendency to define by opposition, which generally results in certain positions becoming overstressed or unduly hardened.”26 “The partners [in the dialogue] will work together towards a constructive synthesis, in such a way that every legitimate contribution is made use of, in a joint research aimed at the complete assimilation of the revealed datum.”27 McLaren is well versed in Catholic literature. In this book, the approach to his subject of dealing with conservative Protestantism is a pristine demonstration that he has successfully assimilated Vatican Council II methodology and doctrine. Rather than defining by opposition, as Bible based public discussion would require, McLaren has followed the Vatican II tactic of presenting subjective opinion in a subtle attempt to pervert biblical authority and historical fact through fictitious contrast, revisionist history, and “constructive synthesis”. He has redefined commonly understood Protestant terminology in order to claim his compromises of truth as a “legitimate contribution” that Vatican II dialogue requires of its participants. These Catholic dialogue parameters, which are the working orders of the larger context in which the Emergent Church is set, work well for both the Catholic Church and McLaren because they sow confusion and discord among believers and unbelievers alike. The Papacy is most likely the bigger winner, for McLaren will be gone in a few decades, but the walls of doctrinal separation between the Catholics and the Protestant world will have been further damaged through McLaren’s assistance. And McLaren for his part, fueled by bitterness and informed and protected under the rules of the larger context agenda, is able to implement his own goal of moving the religious global village toward a new knowledge of God through mysticism. In Part II and III we will explore these things in more detail. McLaren claims to be a true prophet by bringing in his new ideas of emergent thinking.28 The infallible Spirit of God through the Apostle Paul warned Christians about “grievous wolves…not sparing the flock.”29
Christ Jesus said, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”30 Good spiritual fruit shows the nature of the doctrines that have been taught. The Holy Spirit produces spiritual fruits in those who are truly born again. There are fruits of repentance, personal faith, and deep fellowship with God and His people. New birth bears fruit in an awareness of God’s absolute Holiness, and in awareness of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. When Christ Jesus saves a person, He saves from hell and the power of sin. The Lord also delivers the true believer from the dominion of Satan and from the love of and the ways of the world. When we see in a person neither the conviction of sin, nor the fear of God, but rather both a love for the world and it methods, we “know them by their fruits”. Thus it is with McLaren. Not only do his tactics, methods, relativism and rewriting of history reveal whom he is following, but also we see much more is he revealed by what his message is missing. The Holiness of God, the conviction of sin, the fear of God, and the Gospel message are major parts of what is missing from A Generous Orthodoxy. Rather than compromise these precious tenants of the faith, the believer is to separate from those who promote such heresy by “earnestly contend[ing] for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”
1 http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2004/011/12.36.html 1/18/06
2 Vatican Council II Document No. 42, “Reflections and Suggestions Concerning Ecumenical Dialogue”, S.P.U.C., 15 Aug 1970, in Vatican Council II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, Austin Flannery, ed., New Rev. Ed., Vol. I, Sec. II, pp. 540
3 G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) has been very influential in literature of the twentieth century. His book, Orthodoxy, is considered by many to be the centerpiece of his writings. McLaren’s work largely reflects both the content and style of Chesterton, who was staunchly Roman Catholic and who is aggressively promoted on the Internet and elsewhere by Catholics.
4 John Henry Cardinal Newman in the nineteenth century did the same thing in his well-known treatise, Apologia pro Vita Sua, in which he presented his arguments in the form of a testimonial. Newman started out as an Anglican prelate who wanted to become a Catholic, but in 1844 was persuaded by the Papacy to remain an Anglican. From his position, inside the Anglican Church, he was to use all his influence and power to move the Church of England back into the Roman Catholic fold. It has proven to be a very effective strategy. See Walter Walsh, The Secret History of the Oxford Movement (Swan Sonnenschein & Co.,: London, 1898).
5 Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004) p. 35 Emphasis in original.
6 A primary example of one of the Papacy’s long range plans has been its Oxford movement to reclaim England from Henry VIII’s defection in the sixteenth century. Papal plans were put in motion in 1844, using John Henry Newman as their point man within the Church of England for the express goal of subverting that body to Catholicism and thereby regain England as a Catholic country. The group Newman succeeded in establishing within the Church of England became known as Anglo-Catholics, to which belonged the famous Wescott and Hort. That movement is still progressing, although not now known by the same name.
Another example is the Papacy’s snaring of the German Lutheran Federation in a concordat signed October 31, 1999 in Augsburg, Germany. Four hundred forty-four years prior to this signing was the signing of the Treaty of Augsburg (September 25, 1555) in which Germany ratified the Peace of Passau of 1552. This completely established the Reformation by confirming the Protestant Churches of Germany in all their rights and possessions, making them entirely independent of the Pope. The basic issue was justification by faith alone, which Martin Luther had so clearly published on October 31, 1517. The basic issue of the 1999 concordat was the same issue but in 1999 it was declared that the Reformation was a mistake and that the Lutherans and Catholics now believe the same on justification. Nothing could be further from the truth; but after thirty years of dialogue with the Roman Catholics, the Lutherans compromised their historic stand for the biblical truth. The October 31st 1999 concordat, which overturned Martin Luther’s historic stand of October 31, 1517, was signed in Augsburg, the same place where the Treaty of Augsburg, declaring liberty of worship for Protestants, had been signed in 1555. In light of these historical facts, the significance of dates and places is hard to miss.
7 McLaren, pp. 22-23
9 McLaren, p. 199 Emphasis in original.
10 McLaren, p. 92
11 McLaren p 105
12 John 10:35
13 Jeremiah 23:29
14 McLaren, p 133.
15 I Corinthians 2:13
16 McLaren, p. 143
17 Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994), Para. 113 Emphasis in original.
18 “DOMINUS IESUS” September 5th 2000 http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/ cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20000806_dominus-iesus_en.html
19 McLaren, p. 133.
20 McLaren, p. 132, 133
21 Thomas M’Crie recounts that in the sixteenth century in Spain, Archbishop Fernando de Talavera wanted to translate the Bible into Arabic in order to win the Moors to Christ. Cardinal Ximenes, who carried enormous influence with the Spanish government, was strenuously opposed to this because in his opinion to do so was to throw pearls before swine. Therefore, his solution was that “the sacred scriptures ought to be exclusively preserved in the three languages in which the inscription on our Saviour’s cross was written. …This opinion, of Rome, that ignorance is the mother of devotion, has met with the warm approbation of his biographer.” Further, of the vulgar or common people, the cardinal was of the opinion that “they were in danger of wresting the Scripture to their destruction…Therefore, the books which the Cardinal had promised as a substitute for the Gospels and Epistles made their appearance, consisting of treatises of mystic or rather monastic devotion, and the lives of some of its most high-flying zealots, both male and female.” Thomas M’Crie, History of the Progress and Suppression of the Reformation in Spain in the Sixteenth Century (Edinburgh: Wm Blackwood; & London: T. Cadell, 1824) Reprinted by Hartland Publications, 1998; pp. 46-47
22 Peter Allix, The Ecclesiastical History of the Ancient Churches of Piedmont and of the Albigenses (1619, 1690, 1692, 1821) Reprinted by Church History Research & Archives (CHRA), 1989. Ch. III, IV. See also Jean Paul Perrin, History of the Ancient Christians Inhabiting the Valleys of the Alps (Philadelphia: Griffith & Simon, 1847). Reprinted by CHRA, 1991. Perrin, a Waldensian pastor from whom Allix got his information, attended a very important meeting which drew up six articles condemning the church of Rome as the whore in the book of Revelation and clearing the Albigenses and Waldenses of the charges of Manicheanism.
23 M’Crie, Ch. I & II.
24 Vatican Council II, Nostra Aetate, “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions”, Para. 2.
25 Council of Trent, Session XI, Jan. 13, 1547, “If anyone shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone by which we are justified: let him be anathema [cursed].” Henry Denzinger, The Sources of Catholic Dogma, Tr. by Roy J Deferrari from Enchiridion Symbolorum, 13th ed. (B. Herder Book Co., 1957) #822, Canon 12.
26 Vatican Council II Document No. 42, V. Method of Dialogue, (b), p. 548, in Flannery
27 Ibid., (c), p. 548
28 McLaren, p. 285
29 Acts 20:29
30 Matthew 7:16
Permission is given by the author to copy this article if it is done in its entirety without any changes. Richard Bennett, Berean Beacon. The ministry’s Internet web page address is: www.bereanbeacon.org
THE EMERGENT CHURCH MOVEMENT – Part Two:
THE REJECTION OF THE GOSPEL AND AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE
by Richard Bennett
Leader of Emergent Church Movement Embraces Mysticism
The Emerging Church movement has hailed as its “manifesto” Brian McLaren’s book, A Generous Orthodoxy. In it, McLaren explains that the genesis and title of the Emergent Church movement takes its model from the growth of a tree,
“The meaning of emergent as used in these and other settings is an essential part of the ecosystem of generous orthodoxy. A simple diagram can illustrate what we mean by emergent thinking…Each ring [of a tree] represents not a replacement of the previous rings, not a rejection of them but an embracing of them, a comprising of them and inclusion of them in something bigger…[likewise] some thought seeks to embrace what has come before–like a new ring on a tree–in something bigger. This is emergent (or integral, or integrative) thinking. Emergent thinking has been an unspoken assumption behind all my previous books….”1
While this definition gives an excellent picture of McLaren’s modus operandi, it also is the Hegelian dialectic idea2 in a different format. Such change does not describe the biblical pattern of growth that the believer experiences. The biblical pattern requires a putting away of worldly thinking and an adherence to thinking in line with the Bible, which produces godly understanding and behavior.
McLaren further states, “This God-given thirst for emergence…is causing new forms of Christian spirituality, community, and mission to emerge from modern Western Christianity…a generous orthodoxy is an emerging orthodoxy, never complete until we arrive at our final home in God.”3 Contrary to what McLaren states, new forms of Christianity are not developing. Rather, he is inserting new definitions into the classical terminology so that the words suddenly do not mean what they used to mean, thus intentionally confusing people. McLaren has stated that he was going to use devices that confuse because he thinks, “clarity is sometimes overrated.”4
McLaren is at no loss to demonstrate how his “emergent thinking” works. The object of his book is to lump all Protestants and Catholics together, which would be the new ring around the Protestant Catholic split, and to move beyond that5 into Eastern mysticism, which would be the new ring around Catholicism.
The “Solas”–the basic biblical principles utterly denied In order to accomplish his first step of lumping Protestants and Catholics together, McLaren has to redefine the Lord Jesus Christ, Holy God, biblical authority, theology, salvation, and conservative Protestant denominational distinctives. However, after the example of the Lord and the Apostles, true believers adhere to God’s written Word alone as the final authority–Sola Scriptura.6 Before the all-holy God, according to the Bible, an individual is saved by grace alone– Sola Gratia,7 through faith alone–Sola Fide,8 in Christ alone–Solo Christo.9 Following on this, all glory and praise is to God alone–Soli Deo Gloria.10 These five biblical principles, called “the solas,” are the foundation of true faith in the Lord. They are founded on Scripture, existed in the early Church, and have been the basis of all genuine biblical revivals since then. The solas were the foundational principles for which so many thousands of Evangelicals gave their lives at the stake–John Huss, William Tyndale, John Rogers, Hugh Latimer, Nicholas Ridley, Anne Askew, John Bradford, and John Philpot, to name but a few–and for which millions were martyred under various tortures during six hundred years of papal Inquisition. Nevertheless, McLaren makes it very clear that conservative Protestants will have to compromise these basic biblical principles for the sake of community; otherwise they cannot be part of his “generous orthodoxy”. According to McLaren, what we have just outlined in the solas must be discarded. Thus, he proclaims, “Calvinists in particular and fundamentalists in general” are to give up their “solas” or “alones” as distinctives because the word sola is not in the Bible.11 What he is telling the Bible believers is that they must renounce the five basic biblical principles–principles that were the distinctives, principles that separated the Reformers from the Roman Catholic Church. Hence, although McLaren has assured his readers that “emergent thinking” does not reject any of the thinking that has preceded it, yet when he applies his method, his words of assurance turn out to be of no value whatsoever.
On the most fundamental of these distinctives McLaren states, “Scripture is something God had ‘let be,’ and so it is at once God’s creation and the creation of the dozens of people and communities and cultures who produced it.”12 In this, as in most of his teaching, McLaren is in line with the Church of Rome. While Papal Rome does not say these words, she embodies the same concept when she states, “[Holy] Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God….”13 McLaren has clearly paralleled the Catholic line in attempting to equate man’s creativity on a par with God’s. The Scripture itself teaches something totally different, “…holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”.14 The Bible alone is the Word of God revealed to men as the Holy Spirit moved them. According to the Apostle Paul, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God….15 It is not as McLaren would have one believe–“the creation of the dozens of people and communities and cultures.” It is especially serious to undermine the authorship of God’s written Word. Such belittling of the authority of the written Word prevents a person from coming to knowledge of the truth and embracing it as it is in Christ Jesus. This means that McLaren’s teaching is literally soul damning because it has “taken away the key of knowledge.”16
History fabricated to meet desired ends
McLaren also lies about historical facts in order to be able to present an integrated (emergent) picture of Protestants and Catholics on the same issue. He states, “The Christian community at its best through history has always had a deep feeling and understanding for this integrated dual origin of the Scriptures…the Christian community in its Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox forms has sought to hold on to both dimensions of the origin of Scripture…to hold them together as friends, as partners, as colleagues.”17 In history, true Bible believers never bowed to the man-made notion of a “dual origin” of the Scripture. They held to the Scripture as God’s revelation alone. Many were burned at the stake for it. McLaren’s “friends, partners, and colleagues” of the Bible is nothing but a re-statement of the Roman Catholic notion that “Holy Scripture and Holy Tradition are bound closely together and communicate with one another.”18 The Catholic statement and McLaren’s statement on the “integrated dual origin of the Scriptures” are in essence the same. Both are outright lies. To put away truth for these fabrications–not only of doctrinal distinctives but also of the facts of history–is what the “generous orthodoxy” requires. This is nothing new. It is simply the traditional teaching of Papal Rome using other words.
Denying the Gospel
McLaren absolutely denies the Gospel when, for example, he states,
“Perhaps our ‘inward-turned, individual-salvation-oriented, un-adapted Christianity’ is a colossal and tragic misunderstanding, and perhaps we need to listen again for the true song of salvation, which is ‘good news to all creation.’ So perhaps it’s best to suspend what, if anything, you ‘know’ about what it means to call Jesus ‘Savior’ and to give the matter of salvation some fresh attention. Let’s start simply. In the Bible, save means ‘rescue’ or ‘heal’. It emphatically does not mean ‘save from hell’ or ‘give eternal life after death,’ as many preachers seem to imply in sermon after sermon. Rather its meaning varies from passage to passage, but in general, in any context, save means ‘get out of trouble.’ The trouble could be sickness, war, political intrigue, oppression, poverty, imprisonment, or any kind of danger or evil.”19
Contrary to McLaren, Christ Jesus proclaimed, “I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”20The Lord Himself summarized the Gospel when He said, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”21 The contrast is stark; the one who personally believes on the Son has everlasting life. The one who denies personal salvation is not only under the wrath of God, which is surely the soul’s death, but God’s wrath abides on him. McLaren has formally denied the faith. He and his followers have fulfilled the Word spoken of Scripture, that they “being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”22 One can see McLaren’s heresy in other pastors and authors in the Emerging Church movement, such as Alan Jones. McLaren has endorsed Jones’ book, Re-imagining Christianity: Reconnect Your Spirit without Disconnecting Your Mind. Alan Jones, like McLaren, rejects what is central and pivotal to the Gospel message. Jones brazenly declares, “The Church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it.”23Jones goes on to say, “Penal substitution was the name of this vile doctrine.”24
As we saw above, the Lord declared, “He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”25 If McLaren and others, such as Alan Jones, continue to deny personal biblical salvation then they shall neither enjoy true life or happiness here nor in the world to come. Rather, they are now under the wrath of God’s condemnation. As there is no way of escaping the wrath of God but by the Lord Jesus Christ, those who will not personally trust and believe in Christ’s penal substitution in his or her place must go to eternity under the wrath of God and be cast, “into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”26 Such is the miserable condition of those who accept such teaching, i.e., denying personal salvation, which we have documented.
McLaren, however, is not concerned with hell because, he says,
“Isn’t hell such a grave ‘bottom line’ that it devalues all other values? It so emphasizes the importance of life after death that it can unintentionally trivialize life before death. No wonder many people feel that ‘accepting Jesus as a personal Savior’ could make them a worse person–more self-centered and less concerned about justice on earth because of a preoccupation with forgiveness in heaven. Again, although I believe in Jesus as my personal savior, I am not a Christian for that reason. I am a Christian because I believe that Jesus is the Savior of the whole world.”27
In the above statement McLaren does what countless others have done before him. He remakes Jesus into a social justice mascot. “Accepting Jesus as a personal Savior” for him is not focused on “forgiveness” but rather on “justice on earth.” The Lord Himself spoke about sin before God, and He was not an advocate of “justice on earth!” He taught that “…whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin… if the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”28 In this passage, the Lord showed that He was not referring to political bondage but to a person’s slavery to evil passions and desires. The Lord’s message is about the bondage to sin and of the spiritual liberty that He brings. Christ Jesus’ message is “…except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”29 It never was a call for “justice on earth.” It is interesting that the Catholic priests, Leonardo and Clodovis Boff, would agree with McLaren as they wrote, “Liberation theology was born when faith confronted the injustice done to the poor.”30 Let it be clearly and emphatically stated: if Christ Jesus does not save a person spiritually, that person’s case is desperate, and he will die in his sins. McLaren’s profession, “I am a Christian because I believe that Jesus is the Savior of the whole world,” suggests that the whole world makes up the kingdom of God. Unless his profession is interpreted in the sense of personal repentance and salvation from sin, which he denies, McLaren’s personal salvation is a socialized reduction of the Gospel message.
The true message is the clarion call of the Lord, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”31 The Lord’s message will always be “everlasting life,” notwithstanding a thousand McLarens who try to reduce His teaching into pragmatism, i.e., “concerned about justice on earth.” McLaren needs the light of the biblical solas to draw him out from his efforts to demolish the Christian faith; but he has rather turned aside into a still darker haunt, Eastern mysticism.
The Mystic Poet
To move into mysticism, McLaren has yet another hindrance–the preaching of the Gospel and Bible truth in terms of methodical exegesis of Scripture, propositional knowledge, and systematic theology. To destroy these objective methods of preaching and teaching is necessary because mysticism is the attempt to have direct, subjective communication with Holy God, thereby taking to one’s self the role of mediator. The Bible states clearly, however, that this role is given to the Lord Jesus Christ alone–“For… there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”32
McLaren, in his chapter entitled “Why I Am Mystical/Poetic,” never formally defines what a mystic is nor quotes anybody who does. Rather, he sets up a false dialectic. McLaren writes, “This mystical/poetic approach takes special pains to remember that the Bible itself contains precious little expository prose. Rather it is story laced with parable, poem interwoven with vision, dream, opera…personal letter and public song, all thrown together with an undomesticated and unedited artistic passion.”33 For him, to preach the Gospel and Bible truth in terms that primarily address the mind is to reduce it to something scientific, mechanical, and dead. His idea is that preaching needs to be done by poets who address the emotions primarily, the direct opposite of addressing the mind. He quotes Walter Brueggemann, “Poetic speech is the only proclamation worth doing in a situation of reductionism, the only proclamation, I submit, that is worthy of the name preaching.”34 McLaren’s immediate comment on Brueggemann is this, “This non-prose world…is the world entered by the mystic, the contemplative, the visionary, the prophet, the poet.” His insinuation is that men of reason and logical thinking have not under stood or used poetry at all. This suggestion is patently false. Having thus created a false distinction, he now is ready for a synthesis between the two, which allows for direct communication with God. He says, “There long have been Christian traditions recognizing the profound importance of mysticism and poetry, and the corresponding limitations of rationality and prose, including the via negative–the negative way–and the hesychastic tradition, which discovers God in silence. Both traditions remind us of the limitations of language when talking about God….”35 The hesychastic tradition36 is the synthesis, or the “emergent” circle around McLaren’s misleading distinctions regarding addressing mind and emotion. Having thus been able to insert into his argument the “larger” or “emergent” idea of discovering God in silence, an Eastern monastic idea, he concludes,
“A generous orthodoxy, in contrast to the tense, narrow, controlling, or critical orthodoxies of so much of Christian history, doesn’t take itself too seriously. It is humble; it doesn’t claim too much…It doesn’t consider orthodoxy the exclusive domain of prose scholars (theologians) alone, but, like Chesterton, welcomes the poets, the mystics, and even those who choose to say very little or to remain silent, including the disillusioned and the doubters. Their silence speaks eloquently of the majesty of God that goes beyond all human articulation.”37
With this, he has set the stage for mysticism and buttresses his new position by praising Ignatius of Loyola, the mystical founder of the Jesuit order and originator of the counter-Reformation–a man who died an unbeliever.38
By “emergent thinking” (the Hegelian dialectical method), McLaren has worked his argument from objective teaching to mysticism and cited Ignatius of Loyola as an example that mysticism is acceptable in the West. McLaren explains, in some detail, one of his own mystical experiences with God.
“For a period of about 20 minutes, I felt that every tree, every blade of grass, and every pool of water become especially eloquent with God’s grandeur…These specific, concrete things became translucent in the sense that a powerful, indescribably, invisible light seemed to shine through. The beauty of the creations around me…seemed…to explode, seemed to detonate, seemed to radiate with glory. An ecstasy overcame me that I can’t describe. It brings tears to my eyes as I sit here and type. It was the exuberant joy of simply seeing these masterpieces of God’s creation…and knowing myself to be among them. It was to be one of them, and to feel and know that ‘we’–all of these creatures, molecules, and phenomena–were together known and loved by God, who embraced us all into the ultimate ‘We.'”39
This man’s darkness is a heart breaker. He is stating that through this mystical experience he has been brought into the ultimate “We.” It cannot be so. God is holy, totally “other” than His creation. There is no direct communication between God and man. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and men. McLaren is tragically wrong about his experience, totally deceived by “the light” that made him think he is part of God. Confusion of God with His creation has ever been the hallmark of Hinduism, Buddhism, and every other form of polytheism over the centuries.
Having reduced his idea of salvation from personal to universal, having reduced God from an All Holy God to his own notion of a mere loving god, and having redefined theology from the study of God to the study of man, McLaren has also invented a “salvation” that signifies “get out of trouble.” In all of his writing, his tactic for success is the Roman Catholic methodology of ecumenism. Behind the poetry and rhetoric of McLaren’s movement is heresy. McLaren’s paradigm is in the domain of apostasy, showing by its duplicity and falseness a withdrawal and defection from the Gospel of grace. Satan’s trick is always to promote leaders who think that they are truly Christian, while at the same time they proffer new unbiblical techniques for the glorious work of Christ Jesus. Ecumenical strategy, re-defining God, a fictitious contrast replacing the Word of truth, redefining theology, rewriting history, the utter denial of basic biblical principles, and the rejection of the Gospel are just a part of what McLaren proposes. This is the deed and work of antichrist. It is the sin of a so-called “spiritual” man. Unless present day Christians take the biblical warnings with radical seriousness and examine their own hearts and households, they can be deceived by this lethal scheme. Unless this generation of the Evangelical church takes seriously the Gospel, as the Lord and His Apostles spoke it, it will become more and more part of Papal Rome. The Church of Rome has already attempted to usurp Christ’s place and His prerogatives, and far from truly representing Him, she represents His greatest enemy. If peoples succumb to the Emerging Church movement, they will be surrendering to “…the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.”40 Nothing could possibly be more descriptive of the Papacy than this. It has been kept up by deception, delusion, and its pretended growth and success. Thus, we now see the growth and success of a movement that embodies much of the strategy and teaching of Papal Rome. Many of the subtle artifices of man and various pretences of the world are evident in the Emergent Church movement, yet like the Papacy it is remarkable in its propagation. What we see is patent apostasy making shipwreck of the faith. For us, however, it is to fear the All Holy God and obey His commandment and, “hold fast the form of sound words…in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. “41 Steadfastness to the Gospel is of utmost necessity. It is dangerous when those who profess to be true Christians remain unaware of the attacks that are presently confronting the Gospel. Those who would strive for the faith of the Gospel must stand firm in it, aware of present dangers, and carry on unwavering in the hour of crisis. In the words of the Apostle, “…stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”42
(In Part III, we will document the syncretistic Catholic mysticism in the Emergent Church movement.)
1 Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004) pp. 276-278 Underlining in any quotation indicates emphasis in original text.
2 The Hegelian model starts with a thesis and then an antithesis is introduced. Finally, these two merge into a synthesis, which is a new thesis, and the whole process starts over. Marxism is based heavily on this model.
3 McLaren, pp. 284-285
4 “… places here where I have gone out of my way to be provocative, mischievous, and unclear, reflecting my belief that clarity is sometimes overrated.” McLaren, p. 23.
5 McLaren, p. 210
6 John 10:35,17:17, Proverbs 30:5-6, I Corinthians 4:6, II Timothy 3:15-17
7 Romans. 3:24, Ephesians 2:8, 9
8 Acts 16:31, Romans. 4:5, 5:1
9 Ephesians 1:3-14, I Timothy 2:5, Acts 4:12
10 I Corinthians 10: 31, Colossians 3:17
11 McLaren, p. 198
12 McLaren, p. 162
13 Catechism of the Catholic Church (1994) Para 81. Square brackets and italic in the original.
14 II Peter 1:20, 21
15 II Timothy 3:16, 17
16 Luke 11:52
17 McLaren, p. 162
18 Catechism, Para 80
19 McLaren, p. 93
20 Luke 12:5
21 John 3:36
22 Romans 10:3
23 Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity: Reconnect Your Spirit without Disconnecting Your Mind (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2005) p. 132
24 Alan Jones, p. 168
25 John 3:36
26 Matthew 22:13
27 McLaren, p. 100 Emphasis in the original.
28 John 8:34-36
29 Luke 13:5
30 Introducing Liberation Theology http://www.landreform.org/reading0.htm 2/10/06
31 John 3:16
32 I Timothy 2:5
33 McLaren, p. 155
34 McLaren, p. 146
35 McLaren, p. 151
36 The hesychastic tradition is basically the Eastern orthodox monastic practice.
37 McLaren, p. 155
38 See J. A. Wylie’s contrast of Ignatius of Loyola’s life and experience with his contemporary, Martin Luther, in History of Protestantism, Book Fifteenth. Originally published 1878. Reprinted by Hartland Publications, 2002. Also posted on www.bereanbeacon.org.
39 McLaren, p. 178
40 II Thessalonians 2:9
41 II Timothy 1:13
42 Philippians 1:27
Permission is given by the author to copy this article if it is done in its entirety without any changes. Richard Bennett, Berean Beacon. The ministry’s Internet web page address is: www.bereanbeacon.org
THE EMERGENT CHURCH MOVEMENT – Part Three:
THE PROMOTION OF EASTERN MYSTICISM AND THE CATHOLIC CONNECTION
by Richard Bennett
Emerging Church Indoctrinates with Catholic Style Eastern Mysticism
“Americans are looking for personal, ecstatic experiences of God”, declared the “Spirituality in America” feature article in the Aug. 29 – Sept. 5, 2005 issue of Newsweek.1 The article highlights the fact that America and much of the Western world are becoming more open to mysticism. A major factor in this is Rome’s official policy, which in 1965 formally endorsed
Hinduism and Buddhism. The Vatican officially states,
“In Hinduism, men…seek release from the trials of the present life by ascetical practices, profound meditation and recourse to God in confidence and love. Buddhism…proposes a way of life by which man can, with confidence and trust, attain a state of perfect liberation and reach supreme illumination either through their own efforts or by the aid of divine help…. The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions.”2
Purpose and Essence of Catholic Mysticism
Two months after the Vatican’s monumental acceptance of pagan mysticism, another well-known papal document revealed the heart of Roman Catholic policy. “It [Vatican Council II] longs to set forth the way it understands the presence and function of the [Roman Catholic] Church in the world of today. Therefore, the world which the Council has in mind is the whole human family seen in the context of everything which envelops it… This is the reason why this sacred Synod, in proclaiming the noble destiny of man and affirming an element of the divine in him, offers to co-operate unreservedly with mankind in fostering a sense of brotherhood to correspond to this destinyof theirs.”3
In order to promote the Roman Catholic Church’s understanding of her role in the world, her talking point for dialogue with the Hindus and Buddhists is to affirm their ideas, specifically “an element of the divine” within mankind. If in man there were “an element of the divine”, mankind would be of the same order of being as God. Such teaching attempts to do away with the utter transcendence of God and the total depravity of man in his natural or unregenerate state. In a word, it is pantheism. The very first verse of the Bible proclaims, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”4 This is the epitome of the absolute distinction of God from all created things. The Lord God is revealed as unique and separate from His creation. The Creator and the creation are not the same. Were it not for the fact that this papal declaration of pantheism is now accepted and marketed by some modern Evangelicals, we might think that the Vatican statement was simply a seductive trapping of ecumenism packaged for Eastern paganism.
The True Basis for Fellowship with God
The doctrine of the Trinity and the Gospel are the basis of fellowship with God. Fellowship with God involves the whole of the grace and faith relationship with God on which the Gospel is based. Christians enjoy fellowship with God, which God Himself initiates, and at each stage, the Lord God is in control. The doctrine of the Trinity is the underpinning to both Christian faith and Christian experience. The glorious life of the Godhead is foundational to the Christian life. The Father, in the pages of Scripture, is revealed as the One who initiates the whole message of salvation. He is the one who has chosen a people, and He is the one who selected His Son to redeem and save them by means of His perfect life and sacrifice. The Gospel and Christian living depends wholly and completely on the nature of the Father when revealed as the God of love. The Christian experience depends entirely on Christ Jesus being full of grace and truth. The work of the Holy Spirit in Christian experience consists in communicating and making known to the believer the love of the Father and the grace of the Son. The Holy Spirit is the principal and fountain of all genuine Christian living. In this life, He is the controller and source of the communion we have with God. Fellowship with God is the excellent privilege of the Gospel. It is based on the love of the Father, the grace of the Son, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
Due to a sinful nature, no man has any communion with God, “… they that are in the flesh cannot please God.”5 The Lord God is light; we are darkness. Light has no communion with darkness. He is Life, we are dead in trespasses and sins; there can be no accord between us. In the first place, the giving of grace is the only way into fellowship with God. God does not entrust grace to any technique or strategy of man but to Christ Jesus alone. Herein lies the root problem with the modern seeker-sensitive approach to the Christian faith. One must be in Christ before he can “… have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him [Christ Jesus].”6 For sinners to have fellowship with the infinitely all Holy God, there is the need for the direct work of Christ Jesus. This communion with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the very heart of the New Testament message. In the words of the Apostle, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all.”7 Thus, life of the Godhead and the Gospel of grace are foundational to the whole of Christian life. This vital message is not simply missing from the present day advocates of the Emerging Church movement; rather it is contradicted, inverted, and reversed at times in utterly blasphemous ways.
Mystic Syncretism Popularized for Youth
Tony Jones is the U.S. National Coordinator of Emergent-US and minister to youth at Colonial Church of Edina in Minnesota. He is a regular speaker at Youth Specialties National Youth Workers Conventions. Jones was also respected enough in his field to be one of the featured seminar presenters for the Zondervan National Pastors Conference in February 2006. The back cover of his 2003 book, Soul Shaper: Exploring Spirituality And Contemplative Practices In Youth Ministry, states that this book “is hands down the most comprehensive primer on the study and use of spiritual and contemplative practices for the benefit of your teenagers–and especially your own soul.”8 The book specifically targets youth ministers and pastors. Even Jones’s recommendation of Meister Eckhardt’s Collected Works as “a mystical treatise…with an emphasis on God’s indwelling of humanity”9 is enough to forewarn a true Christian of the latent pantheism.
No testimony of salvation in Christ Jesus
In neither of his two books, Soul Shaper: Exploring Spirituality And Contemplative Practices In Youth Ministry (2003) and The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life (2005), does Jones present the Gospel. Like so many leaders in the Emergent Church, his personal testimony is not of being a convicted sinner without hope before the all Holy God and in that conviction coming to Christ as the only Savior. Rather, in Chapter 1, “The Quest for God”, Jones’ testimony shows that in 2005 he is still fumbling in the darkness of unbelief.
“[Some of us] have this nagging feeling that God is following us around, nudging us to live justly, and expecting us to talk to him every once in a while…Every time I leave God’s side, as it were, it’s not too long until I feel God tagging right along beside me, I can’t seem to shake him. Yet having this sense of God’s company doesn’t necessarily translate to a meaningful spiritual life. I know this because despite my awareness of God’s presence, I have spent most of my life trying to figure out what to do about it.”10
This sad testimony is of a man who is not “in Christ”, and yet he is one of the leading lights of the Emergent Church movement in making and disseminating materials for youth pastors and youth groups.
Of his growing up in a Protestant church, he says, “I’d say there was one word that summed up my religious life: obligation.”11 Predictably, he fell away from his pattern of obligatory prayer, Bible reading, and “quiet time”, but felt guilt ridden about it. His solution:
“Something occurred to me: People have been trying to follow God for thousands of years…Maybe somewhere along the line some of them had come up with ways of connecting with God that could help people like me…I could think of no better way to spend it [his three month sabbatical] than to travel and read about different ancient ways of prayer and devotion.”12
His travels took him to round the clock prayer vigils and to Dublin, Ireland, to Catholic priest Alan McGuickian and the staff at the Jesuit Communication Centre. He “voraciously read” Roman Catholic mystics and spoke with individuals who were Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox. Nowhere does he mention any in-depth study of the Bible nor of searching after the great truths of Scripture. In this way, his searching is reminiscent of Ignatius of Loyola13 and it is noteworthy that he recommends the disciplines of the founder of the Jesuits to youth pastors and youths to learn and practice. What is clear from his statements is that “obligation” remains major in his understanding of what it means to be a Christian–but what becomes equally clear is that he has no dependable knowledge of God from God. That is, he has no knowledge of God through the Bible as revelation by His Spirit. Because Jones does not hold to the Bible alone as giving truthful knowledge of God, God Himself remains a truth undefined. Thus Jones is free to define his own god and to fulfill his obligation to this god of his own making.
Thus by making Roman Catholic and Greek tradition his current standard, he is able to fulfill what he sees as his obligation in a supposedly time-honored and acceptable way through these old, mostly Roman Catholic mystical exercises. Yet clearly before the All Holy God, he is still an alien and a stranger to saving grace in Christ Jesus.
Jones’s definition of “Christian” needs careful attention. In The Sacred Way, he states,
“For years I’d been told that to be a Christian meant I had to do three things: (1) read the Bible, (2) pray, and (3) go to church. But I had come to the realization that there must be something more. And indeed there is. There is a long tradition of searching among the followers of Jesus–it’s a quest, really, for ways to connect with God…The quest is to know Jesus better, to follow him more closely, to become–in some mysterious way–wrapped into his presence. And I thank God that some of these brilliant and spiritual persons wrote down what they learned.” (pp. 16-17)
What is missing in Jones’s definition of following Jesus more closely is any conviction of sin and therefore any need for a Savior. Without the conviction of sin one does not have life in Christ Jesus. The Lord declared that the Holy Spirit “will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.”14 Conviction is the Spirit’s work; He does it effectually, and none but He can open the mind and heart of a sinner to saving faith. Jones appears to be totally unaware of this, for he says nothing about the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, or about the Holy Spirit’s role of conviction. Jones is not a “follower of Jesus” in any biblical sense since his god is not the All Holy God of the Bible. His “Jesus”, therefore, is not the Lord Jesus Christ of the Bible.
“A zeal of God, but not according to knowledge”
Jones does state, however, that he feels “that the road to inner peace and connection with our Creator is through Jesus.”15 But at the same time he also says, “the point of these practices is to draw me into a deeper relationship with the Christian God.” While recommending these mystical practices, he clearly states that he really cannot say why he has found them so helpful and does not know why they work, but that they do work. Then he states,
“I think they work because of Jesus. I’m afraid you’re not going to get much more explanation from me than that. Still, I think that something about Jesus…inspired the people who developed these disciplines centuries ago. He led them on this quest, which really is unique to Christianity. For only in Christianity is there the belief that the one, true God came to earth as a human being, and that, to this day, we can know him in as personal a way as the disciples who shared lunch with him 2,000 years ago. That is, Christians engage in these spiritual practices not out of duty or obligation but because there is a promise attached: God will personally meet us in the midst of these disciplines. It’s really pretty crazy when you think about it–… some of the saints who favored these disciplines were driven to extremes that their contemporaries considered mad. (St. Francis preached to the birds in the forest–in the nude)…traditional Christian practice [of the mystical disciplines] is…about a way of life and faith that has been honed by the centuries. It is a way–the way–to live in the sacredness of God.“16
For Jones, as with Catholic and Greek mystics, conviction by the Holy Spirit through the written Word has become irrelevant because they do not believe that God has revealed true propositional knowledge about Himself through the Scripture alone. They have neglected His call, “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow…”17. Rather than engaging their minds over the issue of their sin and need for perfect righteousness before the All Holy God, they seek a subjective meeting with God through spiritual exercises– practices that do not engage the mind according to biblical truth as presented in the written Word. When this so-called union is purportedly experienced, a sense of spiritual fulfillment is felt. This subjective experience (called “enlightenment”) is an attempt to replace Christ Jesus the Lord as the only way to communicate with God. Thus Jones’s above statement is a formal denial of the Lord. Fallen man cannot communicate with God other than through Christ Jesus, who is the only Mediator, the only way. Christ Jesus’ own declaration puts to death all subjective mystical experiences as means of reaching the Father, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”18 The Lord Jesus Christ is the All Holy God’s loving, and only, answer to every man’s sin and need of perfect righteousness.
Historically, the spiritual practices of which Jones writes came from and flourished under the monastic system. These mystical practices went hand in hand with the ascetical practices that prevailed in Egypt and over the East. The fundamental principle behind them was the philosophy that the flesh was the seat of evil, and, consequently to meet God one must first mortify the body and at the same time engage in spiritual rituals whereby man can find God.
Past apostasy comes alive in the present In Soul Shaper, Tony Jones advocates sixteen “ancient-future” spiritual tools or disciplines such as “The Jesus Prayer, Lectio Divina, Silence and Solitude, Stations of the Cross, Centering Prayer, The Ignatian Examen, and the Labyrinth”. Assuming that the Roman Catholic-Evangelical split over the Gospel is a thing of the past, Jones begins defining his “postmodern” approach to youth ministry by combining aspects of what he sees as common spirituality in Evangelicalism, Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions along with Eastern religious practices gleaned from Buddhism and Hinduism. Tony Jones’s involvement with youth ministry and leaders of youth ministry is particularly dangerous. This is because of his use of obscure heretical practices from Papal Rome, which he then passes off on the unsuspecting as if he has rediscovered a long hidden spiritual treasure for a “postmodern” Christianity. His major goal is to make his very Roman Catholic view of the “past come alive in the present”19–something Bible believers should consider carefully, especially regarding his very young audience.
What is so hazardous is that most youth ministers are not familiar enough with the history of the Christian Church to recognize that Jones is selling them a bill of spiritually bankrupt goods. Moreover, pastors within the mainstream of the Evangelical church are also being taught these practices at such places as Zondervan National Pastors Conference 2006. Regrettably, Tony Jones misleads pastors and youth when he writes of “the saints of the Christian church who have over the past two millennia labored at practicing and perfecting these disciplines.”20 He also states, “One of the things you may have to leave at the front cover is denominational bigotry. A lot of the practices herein will seem very ‘Catholic’ or very ‘Eastern Orthodox,’ and if you aren’t from one of those traditions, remember this: before 1054 we were all Catholic/Orthodox! That’s right–for the first half of Christian history, there was one church, and most of the practices in this book are from that time.”21 Jones is not drawing from genuine Christian history before 1054. Clearly, he has taken his history from the apostate Roman Catholic Church, conveniently forgetting the Vaudois, the Waldenses, the Paulicians, the Albigenses, the Spanish believers, and many others who in the first eleven centuries never followed the mystic practices the papacy has consistently promoted since the Dark Ages.
The Catholic mystic, Thomas ˆ Kempis (1380-1471) has had a primary influence upon Tony Jones. Each chapter in Soul Shaper opens with a quote from Kempis. In fact Jones writes, “Thomas ˆ Kempis has guided us throughout our exploration of ancient spiritual practices” (p. 254). In commenting on his book, Jones says, “This book is long on history and theology” (p. 19). The history and theology he presents, however, have a distinct and singular Roman Catholic bias. His section of recommended reading is a virtual all-star roster of mystics of mostly Roman Catholic vintage. Among those he encourages youth ministers to read are “Ignatius of Loyola, Catherine of Siena, Henri Nouwen, John of the Cross, Thomas Merton, Theresa of Lisieux and George Fox.” (pp. 252, 253)
More developed and lethal mystic syncretism
The Gospel message is open, plain and straightforward. Tony Jones’s message, however, in his 2005 book The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life is even more artful and disguised than his Soul Shaper book. In The Sacred Way, Jones advocates the spiritual exercises of Ignatius of Loyola and such mystical and Roman Catholic practices as the Labyrinth, Centering Prayer, the Stations of the Cross and the Jesus Prayer. The dishonest substitution of Roman Catholic mystical methods for the straightforward proclamation of the Gospel of grace and fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is the spiritual black hole into which Tony Jones is leading his readers.
The operating principle of Tony Jones’s mystical philosophy is his endorsement of the humanistic message and technique of Ignatius of Loyola. Here Jones emphasizes the Jesuit founder’s use of visualization and human choice in order to overcome evil and to be the person one wants to be. Thus in Chapter 8 of Soul Shaper, “The Ignatian Examen”, Jones declares,
“From the first day, meditating on the Incarnation and nativity of Jesus, through the final meditation focused on the week leading up to Palm Sunday, the retreatant imagines Lucifer arrayed with all of his forces in one plain, ready to do battle, and Jesus and his forces lined up against him. By the end of this week, Ignatius says the retreatant will be ready to make Election–that is, to choose which army she wants to be a part of, to choose what kind of a person she wants to be.” (p. 92)
This is openly and unmistakably to place oneself in what the Lord classified as, “that which is born of the flesh is flesh” in contrast to, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”22 Man’s own election, or his choice of his own destiny, is manifestly presented as the starting point of what is alleged to be Christian salvation. This is in stark opposition to the Apostle Paul’s statement that salvation is by “the election of grace”. “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.”23 Salvation and fellowship with God is by His gracious or merciful choosing, that is, election; and not by any maneuver of man.
Jones also teaches gross idolatry. He promotes images that are forbidden by the Lord, implying that God’s holy presence is to be seen in the icon. Like Brian McLaren, he makes his position known by quoting others who hold the same position without ever presenting the biblical position. In The Sacred Way, he quotes an Eastern Orthodox woman who says,
“The sober presence of the Lord in an icon makes us uncomfortable because it makes us realize how far short we fall from the ineffable beauty and power of God…. The steady, unsettling gaze of the Lord in an icon is like the gaze of a surgeon as he looks at a patient’s wounded, broken body. The surgeon understands the woundedness better than the patient does, and he knows exactly what it will take to heal it. Our Lord sees brokenness and failures in us that we can’t, that we simply won’t, that we could not bear to see. And he invites us to open ourselves to his healing, a healing that will progress very gently, very gradually, as we are able to bear it.” (pp. 98-99)
Rather than exposing this sentimental notion of an icon as a substitute for conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, leading to repentance and salvation in Christ alone, Jones uses this “castle-in-the-air” to soften his audience to the use of icons. He then builds his case for idolatry citing Catholic legends and modern Catholics as his authority because although he does not say so, he has found it necessary to bring in his own mediator, the form of which is an icon. He states,
“The Catholic belief [is] that Christians can pray through saints, especially the Blessed Virgin Mary, and their prayers will be delivered to the throne of God…The bottom line is that we use icons to pray, but we pray through them, not to them….Since we believe that those who have died in faith are currently living in eternity with God, praying through an icon of a saint is simply asking one of these friends to pray for me.”
This is exactly the issue in Exodus 32 when Aaron made a golden calf for the worship of Holy God. They surmised that they were not worshipping the calf; rather they were using it to worship Holy God. Their worship was supposedly going through the image to God. Exodus 20:4-5 specifically forbids the making of these images, a reminder that is much needed today. Because he claims that we are in the postmodern age, which de facto means post-Gospel, and has rationalized by legend and Catholic tradition that icons are acceptable, he counsels,
“In order to incorporate praying with icons into your personal devotional life, the first item of business is to get an icon…. Shadows are never seen in an icon, and no source of light illuminates the subject’s face. The icon itself is a source of light…an icon is not meant to be a depiction of a normal human being but of Jesus or Mary or a saint in their resurrected state.”24
Thus Tony Jones, turning his back on conviction of sin through the preaching of the Word of God, endorses forbidden images as being good for a person’s spiritual life; but the Lord God says those who use such images hate him, and He will visit their iniquity upon them to the third and fourth generation (Exodus 20:4-6).
In the Epilogue to his two books, in the sections called “Developing a Rule of Life”, Jones urges his readers to place their faith in the religious exercises, “Following some experience with the ancient practices outlined in this book, you may decide to incorporate some of them into your personal Rule of Life. An example of a rule could look something like this: Pray through two centuries of the Jesus Prayer in the morning and evening every day. Keep the Sabbath from sunset Friday to sunset Saturday every week. Walk a labyrinth once a month. Take a two-day silent retreat once a year. Fast and walk the Stations of the Cross every Friday during Lent. Take a 28-day Ignatian retreat every decade….”25 His final platitude is simply on the level of feeling,
“We have lots of options in our ministries, but developing a disciplined spiritual life isn’t one of them. That is, it isn’t optional. It’s mandatory…Slow down. Listen to God. Be silent. Meditate. Make the Stations. Stare at the icon. And there, do you feel it? The divine light of the Risen Christ flickering within you, slowly building to a roaring fire….”26
To all this, the Lord thunders through His Word, “Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?”27 One would have to say that the Mad Hatter’s tea party in Alice in Wonderland has more to offer. The notions that Jones advances are merely the inventions of men and are certainly not by divine revelation of the Bible. They are but proud conceits from the Roman Catholic tradition “intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind.”28 These traditional Catholic practices that Jones so warmly promotes may have an appearance of spirituality but they have been found throughout history, and even again in our own day, simply to deceive by leading into pride and sin. In effect, Jones disclaims Christ as the only Mediator between God and man. One of the greatest denigrations of Christ Jesus is to attempt to interject some other mediator between God and His creation; and Jones has done this unashamedly. Yet as Jones has already shown in his own case, when men let go of the knowledge of Christ Jesus as the only Mediator, they become entrapped within the traditions of men and the bankruptcy of worldly spirituality. Jones makes mystical exercises seem so worthy that by endorsing Catholic mysticism, idolatry and fleshly devotions, he can easily bewitch those who read or try to implement his teaching. The relic-artifacts of Catholicism, presented by Jones as appropriate to the postmodern period, are absolutely opposed to biblical truth. The Lord God’s command is that believers are to be “casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”29
Communion with God is a participation in eternal life by grace through faith. Such communion is not achieved by imagination, visualizations, solitude, or mystical formulas. False teachers such Tony Jones and Brian McLaren have attempted to supplant the Gospel by seducing multitudes with doctrines that can damn their souls for all eternity. Christ Jesus the Lord warned that, “many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”30 The present day Emerging Church movement is full of deceitful “contemplative practices”. Only by taking heed to the counsel of the Lord can His followers escape ruin. The danger of the Emerging Church’s type of spirituality is that it replaces the certainty of the written Word with subjective experiences. Jones and other leaders of the movement teach that “spiritual practices” can bring an awareness of God wherein morality and keeping the commandments of God are not mentioned. True coming to God is by trusting on the perfect life and sacrifice of Christ that includes repentance and forsaking of sin. If Evangelicals follow the teachings of Jones, it will inevitably lead to asceticism and immorality, a fact of prior church history, by those who practiced such things. Christ Jesus proclaims in His Word “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear… take heed what ye hear.”31 Not only are we to hold to the Gospel, but also the Lord commands us to give due regard to what we hear. To be true to the Lord, we must be perceptive to what is happening and diligent to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”32
1 http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9024914/site/newsweek/ 1/5/06
2 No.56, Nostra Aetate, “Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions”, Oct 28,
1965, in Documents of Vatican II: The Conciliar and Post-Conciliar Documents, Austin Flannery, Ed.,
New Revised Ed.(Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. Eerdmans Publ. Co., 1975, 1984) Para. 2.
3 Vatican II Document No. 64, Gaudium et Spes, 7 Dec. 1965 in Flannery, Vol. I, Sec. 2, 3 pp. 904-5.
Bolding in any quotation is added in this presentation.
4 Genesis 1:1
5 Romans 8:8
6 Ephesians 3:12
7 II Corinthians 13:14
8 Tony Jones, Soul Shaper: Exploring Spirituality And Contemplative Practices In Youth Ministry (Zondervan, 2003)
9 Ibid., p. 252
10 Tony Jones, The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005) p. 15
11 The Sacred Way, p. 15
12 Ibid., p. 16
13 Ignatius’s search began by reading stories of the Catholic saints, and attending to images, all of which fed his wild imagination with mystical fervor. None of these things brought salvation, Ignatius died unsaved.
14 John 16:8
15 The Sacred Way, p. 17
16 The Sacred Way, pp. 18-19
17 Isaiah 1:18
18 John 14:6
19 Soul Shaper, back cover
20 The Sacred Way, p. 21
21 Soul Shaper, Introduction, p.20 22 John 3:6
23 Romans 11:5-6
24 The Sacred Way, p. 103 Antidote: Christ Can’t Be Pictured by Virgil Dunbar available on www.bereanbeacon.org
25 Sole Shaper, p. 233
26 The Sacred Way, pp. 198-199; Soul Shaper, p. 233-234
27 Job 38:2
28 Colossians 2:18
29 II Corinthians 10:5
30 Matthew 24:11
31 Mark 4:23,24
32 Philippians 1:27
Permission is given by the author to copy this article if it is done in its entirety without any changes. Richard Bennett, Berean Beacon. The ministry’s Internet web page address is: www.bereanbeacon.org
|Dr. Terry Watkins||Dial-the-Truth Ministries|
. . . Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
The latest “star” among the Christian world is Joel Osteen, pastor of nondenominational Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. Osteen claims the nation’s largest congregation with over 30,000 members. Lakewood recently purchased the colossal Compaq Center, formerly home of the NBA’s Houston Rockets. After a whopping $95 million in renovations, the Compaq Center now houses Osteen’s empire called Lakewood Church.
Osteen continually sells out huge arenas (at $10 a ticket) across the country (on eBay,Osteen’s tickets list for over $100! Can you say ‘ch-ching?’)
New York Times (July 18, 2005) reports Lakewood’s 2004 revenues of $55 million. Osteen’s book of human-potential, self-esteem, “feel good,” self-help-guide titled, Your Best Life Now: Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential, ranks number one on the prestigious “New York Times” best-seller list. Wxyz.com writes of Osteen’s enormous popularity, “In the world of religion, he’s achieved the status of a rock star. . .”
Clearly, Mr. Osteen wears the coveted crown prince of the Christian kingdom. Osteen’s message is described as “. . . simple self-help message that congregants say is both uplifting and accessible. . .” Osteen proudly wears the title of “the smiling preacher.” His theology has been described as “cotton candy” theology, “tastes good” but no substance. Before we examine Osteen’s disturbing theology, let us lay some ground work for our critique.
Today’s Christians have been spiritually malnourished with a steady and unrelenting diet of “judge not, that ye be not judged. . .,” tolerant, inclusive “junk food” doctrine until they are completely void of any spiritual discernment. May I remind you in Matthew 7 where the popular “judge not, that ye be not judged. . .” mantra occurs contains the harshest warning in the Bible exposing false prophets and exercising personal spiritual discernment.
The Lord Jesus in Matthew 7:21-23 provides the most enlightening and frightening warning found in all the scriptures. Many (not a few) people that openly call Jesus “Lord, Lord. . .” and many that “prophesy in thy name. . .” and “. . . cast out devils. . .” and in the name of Jesus Christ perform “many wonderful (not hateful, but nice, sweet) works. Jesus will utter “I NEVER knew you.” They were never saved. If they were ever saved. Jesus could not say, I NEVER knew you. Despite their “many wonderful works” in the name of Jesus, despite calling Him “Lord, Lord,” Jesus Christ will cast them into an eternal lake of fire, calling them “ye that work iniquity.”
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.
15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles’
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name’ and in thy name have cast out devils’ and in thy name done many wonderful works’
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
Matthew 7 (and there are many other scriptures) is an earth-shattering wake-up call for prayerful Bible discernment. If we, as Christians do not shine the exposing light of the Word of God upon preachers, Christians or anyone and everyone, how can we possibly obey the clear admonition of our Lord and Saviour in Matthew 7:15? How can we “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves”? If we do not “judge” who are the “false prophets”? How in the world can we even KNOW who are these “false prophets”? They appear as “sheep” or saved people, but they are “ravening wolves.” There is only one way; the unchangeable, perfect Word of God. There is a very serious and very deadly Christian belief perverting Christians that says, “I can’t judge them, I don’t know their heart.” The Lord Jesus Christ says in Matthew 15:19, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” What comes out the mouth is in the heart.
And what came out of the heart and mouth of Joel Osteen during the June 20, 2005 interview with Larry King literally sent shivers down my spiritual spine. As a Bible Believing researcher, I have researched many topics, many cultural issues and many false prophets, but what I heard repeatedly from the mouth of Joel Osteen on Larry King clearly ranks as the most disturbing words publicly coming out of a mainstream, accepted preacher. Bar none!
Before we view Osteen’s troubling statements, let me also add: we are not frivolously “sowing discord among brethren. . .” (Proverbs 6:19); we are not blindly, “. . . straining at a gnat, and swallowing a camel.” (Matthew 23:14); nor is any personal malice or contempt against Mr. Osteen intended.
As Bible Believers, we can disagree on certain doctrinal issues, but never the redemptive work and person of the Lord Jesus Christ. God forbid! God help us to never cease from exposing serious doctrinal errors, and make no mistake about it, several of Joel Osteen’s statements on Larry King Live were serious. Very serious. . .
The first very alarming portrait of Osteen’s heart (Matthew 12:34) deals with the most important subject in the Bible. Salvation is only through the redemptive blood of the Lord Jesus Christ at Calvary. Nothing is more important. Nothing is more evident in the scriptures. The following scriptures (among many) loudly and boldly proclaim Jesus Christ as the ONE and ONLY way of salvation, without any room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding. The Bible makes this crystal-clear. Other doctrines may have opportunity for argument, but not this one.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
1 Timothy 2:5-6
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
On Larry King Live, the following very disturbing conversation occurred with Larry King and Joel Osteen:
KING: What if you’re Jewish or Muslim, you don’t accept Christ at all?
OSTEEN: You know, I’m very careful about saying who would and wouldn’t go to heaven. I don’t know …
At this point, even Larry King appears surprised by Osteen’s answer. Then Larry tosses Osteen a “soft-ball” to explain his previous answer. And again Osteen openly denies that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way of salvation.
KING: If you believe you have to believe in Christ’ They’re wrong, aren’t they?
OSTEEN: Well, I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong. I believe here’s what the Bible teaches and from the Christian faith this is what I believe. But I just think that only God will judge a person’s heart. I spent a lot of time in India with my father. I don’t know all about their religion. But I know they love God. And I don’t know. I’ve seen their sincerity. So I don’t know. I know for me, and what the Bible teaches, I want to have a relationship with Jesus.
Again Osteen denies the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice, he praises the pagan, false-religion of India as “I know they love God.” Unbelievable. . .
I’m sure some reading this are thinking, “Well, maybe Larry caught Joel Osteen flat footed. Maybe Osteen wasn’t prepared. If Osteen only had been given another chance to testify of the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ, he’d get it straightened out.
Osteen did get another chance. . .
After Larry King opened the phone lines, a concerned Christian asks Joel to clarify his previous statement (which we just viewed). Again Osteen could easily clear this up.
CALLER: Hello, Larry. You’re the best, and thank you, Joe — Joel — for your positive messages and your book. I’m wondering, though, why you side-stepped Larry’s earlier question about how we get to heaven? The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus is the way, the truth and the light and the only way to the father is through him. That’s not really a message of condemnation but of truth.
OSTEEN: Yes, I would agree with her. I believe that. . .
KING: So then a Jew is not going to heaven?
OSTEEN: No. Here’s my thing, Larry, is I can’t judge somebody’s heart. You know, only God can look at somebody’s heart, and so — I don’t know. To me, it’s not my business to say, you know, this one is or this one isn’t. I just say, here’s what the Bible teaches and I’m going to put my faith in Christ. And I just I think it’s wrong when you go around saying, you’re saying you’re not going, you’re not going, you’re not going, because it’s not exactly my way. I’m just…
KING: But you believe your way.
OSTEEN: I believe my way. I believe my way with all my heart.
KING: But for someone who doesn’t share it is wrong, isn’t he?
OSTEEN: Well, yes. Well, I don’t know if I look at it like that. I would present my way, but I’m just going to let God be the judge of that. I don’t know. I don’t know.
KING: So you make no judgment on anyone?
OSTEEN: No. But I…
And here Larry really tosses Joel a soft-ball. How about a God-defying atheist? And again, Osteen will not confess that Jesus Christ is the ONLY way of salvation.
KING: What about atheists?
OSTEEN: You know what, I’m going to let someone — I’m going to let God be the judge of who goes to heaven and hell. I just — again, I present the truth, and I say it every week. You know, I believe it’s a relationship with Jesus. But you know what? I’m not going to go around telling everybody else if they don’t want to believe that that’s going to be their choice. God’s got to look at your own heart. God’s got to look at your heart, and only God knows that.
Friend, the Bible is clear. There is one, and only one way out of an eternal hell and that is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not simply “a relationship with Jesus Christ.” Judas Iscariot had a “relationship” with Jesus Christ, walking and talking with the Lord, and even “kissing” the Lord (Luke 22:47), but Judas went to hell (Acts 1:25). Revelation 2:15 reads, “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,”
What can wash away my sins? NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD OF JESUS!
The teaching professed by Osteen that “. . . God’s got to look at your heart. . .” for salvation is wrong. It is grossly wrong. It is deadly wrong. God has already “looked at you heart.” In Jeremiah 17:9, the Lord says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Proverbs 28:26, says, “He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool. . .” The Lord Jesus says, in Matthew 15 “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:”
Osteen’s refusal to confess the sole redemptive salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ sent shock waves among many of Osteen’s followers. Because of the amount of email and letters questioning his statements, Osteen issued an apology on his web site, stating:
|Dear Friend,Many of you have called, written or e-mailed regarding my recent appearance on Larry King Live. I appreciate your comments and value your words of correction and encouragement. It was never my desire or intention to leave any doubt as to what I believe and Whom I serve. I believe with all my heart that it is only through Christ that we have hope in eternal life. I regret and sincerely apologize that I was unclear on the very thing in which I have dedicated my life.Jesus declared in John 14; I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me. I believe that Jesus Christ alone is the only way to salvation. However, it wasn’t until I had the opportunity to review the transcript of the interview that I realize I had not clearly stated that having a personal relationship with Jesus is the only way to heaven. It’s about the individual’s choice to follow Him.God has given me a platform to present the Gospel to a very diverse audience. In my desire not to alienate the people that Jesus came to save, I did not clearly communicate the convictions that I hold so precious.I will use this as a learning experience and believe that God will ultimately use it for my good and His glory. I am comforted by the fact that He sees my heart and knows my intentions. I am so thankful that I have friends, like you, who are willing to share their concerns with me.
Thank you again to those who have written. I hope that you accept my deepest apology and see it in your heart to extend to me grace and forgiveness.
As always, I covet your prayers and I am believing for God’s best in your life,
I find it ironic and demeaning that Osteen said he “was unclear on the very thing in which I have dedicated my life.” He was not UNCLEAR. He was crystal clear. He consistently and clearly rejected that the Lord Jesus Christ was the ONLY way of salvation! We’re not talking about a “babe in Christ.” We are talking about the pastor of the largest church in the nation! Here he is as an ambassador for the Lord Jesus on a very popular television show and refuses to acknowledge the very thing he supposedly has “dedicated his life”? Something’s seriously wrong with this picture!
Osteen’s glossing, or apologizing for his serious statements, does not negate his repeatedly refusal to confess that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation. If his answers were not so clear, nor given several chances to clarify, his apology might be appropriate. But the heart and soul of the Christian faith is the sole redemptive blood of the Lord Jesus. Without that, there exists no Christian faith. For a preacher to repeatedly refuse to confess that Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation is without excuse, nor apology.
1 Peter 3:15 admonishes the Christian: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”
Many other statements from Osteen during the Larry King interview were blatantly in opposition to the Word of God.
KING: But you’re not fire and brimstone, right? You’re not pound the decks and hell and damnation?
OSTEEN: No. That’s not me. It’s never been me. I’ve always been an encourager at heart. And when I took over from my father he came from the Southern Baptist background and back 40, 50 years ago there was a lot more of that. But, you know, I just — I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe — maybe it was for a time. But I don’t have it in my heart to condemn people. I’m there to encourage them. I see myself more as a coach, as a motivator to help them experience the life God has for us.
Friend, the greatest “fire and brimstone” preacher that ever lived was the Lord Jesus! He preached about hell more than any other subject. If you don’t believe in proclaiming fire and brimstone, as Osteen openly confesses, you do not believe the Bible! It’s that simple.
Jesus Christ took hell very serious. In Mark 9:43-47 the Lord says,
43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
Jesus Christ took hell so serious, he could say without the slightest hesitation to remove your eye, cut off your hand or foot, if that would keep you out of hell!
If hell is not real, Jesus Christ was the most deceived man that ever lived!
Osteen may sound pious and sweet to say, “. . . I don’t have it in my heart to condemn people,” but according to the Lord Jesus, they are already condemned. The Lord says in John 3:18, “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
The Christian’s message is not condemnation, but the way out of ALREADY condemnation. If there is no “hell fire and brimstone,” there is no reason for Jesus dying on the cross. It was a waste. Hell is as much a part of the gospel, as the blood of Jesus Christ. No hell. No blood. No heaven. No gospel. . .
Friend, if we believe the Bible it is our duty and decency to warn people about hell! Warning someone of the fires of eternal hell is not condemning them – it is just the opposite – we are trying to keep them from being condemned in hell!
Because of Osteen’s vague and confusing answers, Larry King point-blank asks Osteen if he believed the Bible. (What a strange question to ask the pastor of the largest church in America)
KING: You believe in the Bible literally?
OSTEEN: I do, I do.
There is a problem here – a very, very serious problem. Here is a man that claims to believe the Bible literally. And the Bible over and over and over, warns of a place of called hell, a place of eternal fire and torments where the majority of people will suffer in torments for all eternity.
49 So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just,
50 And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Revelation 14:10-11
10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night,
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
How can Mr. Osteen, or anyone, claim to believe the Bible and deliberately refuse to warn people about hell? Is anyone that mean or hateful or so depraved that they willingly refuse to warn others? I’m reminded of a gut-wrenching illustration in Why Revival Tarries, by Leonard Ravenhill:
Charlie Peace was a criminal. Laws of God or man curbed him not. Finally the law caught up with him, and he was condemned to death. On the fatal morning in Armley Jail, Leeds, England, he was taken on the death-walk. Before him went the prison chaplain, routinely and sleepily reading some Bible verses. The criminal touched the preacher and asked what he was reading. “The Consolations of Religion,” was the replay. Charlie Peace was shocked at the way he professionally read about hell.
Could a man be so unmoved under the very shadow of the scaffold as to lead a fellow-human there and yet, dry-eyed, read of a pit that has no bottom into which this fellow must fall? Could this preacher believe the words that there is an eternal fire that never consumes its victims, and yet slide over the phrase with a tremor? Is a man human at all who can say with no tears, “You will be eternally dying and yet never know the relief that death brings?”
All this was too much for Charlie Peace. So he preached. Listen to his on-the-eve-of-hell sermon. “Sir” addressing the preacher, “if I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be, on hands and knees and think it worth while living, just to save one soul from an eternal hell like that!” (Ravenhill, Leonard, Why Revival Tarries, Fires of Revival Publishers, Zachary, LA, 1973, p. 19)
Is it possible that a man could be so cruel and so criminal to actually believe in hell and steadfastly refuse to warn fellow human beings?
Recently, a local TV station interviewed a man that rescued a sleeping family from a burning house. He was riding by the house, saw the raging fire and at the danger of his own life, ran inside the flaming house, screaming and yelling for the family to wake up and get out! The newscaster asked him, “How does it feel to be a hero?” His reply was simply, “I’m no hero; I just did what any decent human being would have done.”
Hear me and hear me well – a man that professes to believe the Bible and refuses to warn people about hell; either does not really believe that Bible, or they are the worse criminal and villain on this earth! And I don’t care how big a church they have, or how nice, sweet, loving, compassionate or pious they may sound – they are a wicked devil in disguise!
Will you go and speak to the sinners blind
And who walk in the midnight gloom’
Will you bear some light to their darkened mind’
Will you tell them their coming doom’
Will you seek them now, Will you seek them now’
Will you show them the way’ Will you show them the way’
Some one may be lost, That you might lead home, To that bright land of perfect day.
– Seeking the Lost, A. J. Bu苞han苔n, 1889
In the interview, Larry King tossed Osteen another “soft-ball,” asking Osteen about the wicked and vile sins of abortion and homosexuality. Even lost people take a stand on these blatant “sins.”
KING: How about issues that the church has feelings about’ Abortion’ Same-sex marriages’
OSTEEN: Yeah. You know what, Larry? I don’t go there. I just …
KING: You have thoughts, though.
OSTEEN: I have thoughts. I just, you know, I don’t think that a same-sex marriage is the way God intended it to be. I don’t think abortion is the best. I think there are other, you know, a better way to live your life. But I’m not going to condemn those people. I tell them all the time our church is open for everybody.
Again, Larry appears surprised at Osteen’s waffling. Larry allows Osteen to clarify his confusing position. And again Osteen blatantly contradicts the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.
KING: You don’t call them sinners?
OSTEEN: I don’t.
KING: Is that a word you don’t use?
OSTEEN: I don’t use it. I never thought about it. But I probably don’t. But most people already know what they’re doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change. There can be a difference in your life. So I don’t go down the road of condemning.
The word “sin” occurs in the King James Bible over 830 times!
After the previous surprising answers, Larry then asks Osteen the obvious question: Do you believe the Bible?
KING: You believe in the Bible literally?
OSTEEN: I do, I do.
The following conversation during King’s interview displays how far Osteen and the Bible differ.
KING: Is it hard to lead a Christian life?
OSTEEN: I don’t think it’s that hard. To me it’s fun. We have joy and happiness. Our family — I don’t feel like that at all. I’m not trying to follow a set of rules and stuff. I’m just living my life.
KING: But you have rules, don’t you?
OSTEEN: We do have rules. But the main rule to me is to honor God with your life. To live a life of integrity. Not be selfish. You know, help others. But that’s really the essence of the Christian faith.
The “essence of Osteen’s Christian faith” is to “help others.” (And along the way make a few million dollars.)
In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4, the apostle Paul gives us the “essence” of the Christian faith:
1 Corinthians 15:3-4
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Stay away from Joel Osteen and his no condemnation, self-esteem, false-gospel. Warn others. Stay away! There is too much at stake, your eternal soul.
Have you been saved?
It’s simple to be saved …
- Realize you are a sinner.
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” Romans 3:10
“… for there is no difference. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23
- Realize you CAN NOT save yourself.
“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; …” Isaiah 64:6
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, …” Titus 3:5
- Realize that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for your sins.
“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, …” 1 Peter 2:24
“… Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,” Revelation 1:5
- Simply by faith receive Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.
“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” John 1:12
” …Sirs, what must I do to be saved’ And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”” Acts 16:30,31
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE SAVED?’
Pray this prayer, and mean it with all your heart.
Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and unless you save me I am lost forever. I thank you for dying for me at Calvary. I come to you now, Lord the best way I know how, and ask you to save me. I now receive you as my Savior. In Jesus Christ Name, Amen.
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;”
[Article Reprinted with Permission]