Also thanks to my sis in the Lord Shelley for the heads up.
For the record I considered Ted Haggard a false teacher before any of this latest nonsenense so his replacement doesnt surprise me.
Haggard Replacement Promotes Contemplative Prayer
and the Emerging Church
After the recent exposure of Ted Haggard, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has replaced Haggard with interim president, Leith Anderson. Anderson is the pastor of Wooddale Church in Minneapolis, which is the former church of Lighthouse Trails author Brian Flynn, (author of Running Against the Wind). Choosing Anderson for the NAE president may help to speed up the infiltration of contemplative spirituality into the evangelical churchÂWooddale Church has been promoting it for some time. Brian Flynn, a former New Age medium, started attending Wooddale when he became a Christian. Because of his background, he was asked to share his testimony with others. Soon he developed a seminar, which he presented on a regular basis for several years. That was until Flynn found out about contemplative spirituality. He had no idea what would happen when he began talking about contemplative prayer at Wooddale. Listen to him explain:
After my conversion, many Christians asked to hear my testimony. What started as a short explanation grew into a full-fledged seminar refuting the New Age, its philosophies, and its practices....
Until recently I did not have a concrete example of any New Age practice or teaching within the church other than the influence of pop culture. That changed after reading Ray Yungen's book, A Time of Departing, and the research, which culminated afterwards. Approaching some local pastors about the subject, they seemed rather nonplussed, explaining to me that it was simply a practice of prayer by the monks in the early history of the church. In other wordsÂnothing to worry about. At first, I accepted their opinion because they certainly had more years of study and experience than I. For a while I tried to shove the nagging notion that something was amiss into the back closets of my mind. But something Ray Yungen said in his book haunted me:
In the spiritual climate of today a unifying mystical prayer practice fits the paradigm necessary to unite the various world faiths. In Western civilization, this model is the contemplative prayer movement.... [T]his movement is on the slippery slope that will lead to ... apostasy. For this to happen, as the Bible says, there will be "seducing spirits" who design a spirituality very closely related to the truth. Every Christian must therefore discern whether or not the contemplative prayer movement is a deeper way of walking with God or a deception that is attempting to undermine the very gospel itself.
Finally, the light came on and I knew he was rightÂI could not ignore it any longer. Delving into the books written by the contemplatives themselves and well-documented research papers, I became convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that contemplative spirituality was and is a heretical practice. I took my discovery to the next level and began including it in my seminarÂa natural response to an important discovery. However, this caused quite a stir. Pastors seemed offended when I challenged the well-known names of the contemplatives: Foster, Manning, Merton, and Nouwen. Some of them acted as if I had blasphemed the Lord Himself. Suddenly I was called divisive, a trouble-maker, and unloving.
At my home church (a large metropolitan church)[Wooddale Church], the pastors insisted that if I was going to continue my seminar there, I was forbidden to name names, and in fact, the pastors did not even want me mentioning the practice of contemplative prayer. "That's odd," I thought. "If we aren't promoting contemplative prayer in this church, why stop me from warning believers?Â But I honored their request. "After all," I told myself, "this church isn't teaching contemplative prayer; at least I can warn my congregation of other New Age practices they might run up against." I was relieved to know my own church was not involved in Richard Foster's or Brennan Manning's form of spirituality.
But then one day something strange took place. I learned that Ray Yungen's book, which had been purchased by our church bookstore, had suddenly been banned from the store. The reason I discovered laterÂthe book named names. I felt a little alarmed at even the idea that the book was now forbidden. A few weeks later, on a Saturday afternoon, while teaching the seminar in one of the church's classrooms, someone came up at break and told me that directly across the hall another seminar was taking place with a guest speakerÂan avid promoter of Richard Foster and contemplative prayer! I was shocked ... and angry. Here I and other watchmen were being silenced to speak the truth, while contemplative prayer was being ushered into my church. I had naively believed the pastors when they said they just didn't want to name names because it was too divisive; in reality, they had far more sympathy and dealings with contemplative spirituality than I ever would have imagined. And it broke my heart to know it.
After that, I knew I had to name names. And I knew I had to warn my brothers and sisters about contemplative prayer. Within a few weeks, I was called into a special meeting. Those present were furious with meÂexplaining to me that the church's policy was to never name names. I had violated that policy, and the pastors insisted I comply.
But how could I in good conscience? To do so would be disobedience to God. How can one warn the flock of false teaching if the names of false teachers cannot be discussed and analyzed? By this standard, the Apostle Paul would have to be silenced. Paul had no hesitation in naming the names of Hymenaeus and Philetus (II Timothy 2:16,17). Scripture gives many other examples of men of God, true believers, who had to name names to effectively warn the church. Not naming names would be like a parent sending her child out to play in the yard and not warning him to stay out of the street because the cars passing drove very fast.
"I cannot keep silent about this," I told the pastors that day. "Richard Foster is teaching heresy. The premise of contemplative prayer is that all paths lead to God, thus completely negating the gospel message of salvation through Christ's atoning work alone. And by your refusal to examine closely these teachings, you are leading the flock into a dangerous place of heresy and deception." I respectfully told them I was compelled to share the truthÂI would not be able to comply with their wishes. Thus, it became clear to everyone in the room that day that I no longer had a place in that church. My passion to protect Christians from the practices and lies I was taught in the New Age stood in the way. With much sadness and a feeling of deep loss, I drove away from the church I loved. Where once I had been accepted and received with open arms, I was now looked at by the leaders as a trouble maker. I had been a voice in that church, a testimony of what the New Age really offers, of what it really entails. Now, my brothers and sisters would not be warned, and I feared that contemplative spirituality would race in and flood that church I once called home.
How could I ignore such blatant heretical practices within the walls of the church? I chose to violate policy rather than ignore the needs of my Christian brethren. For this deed, I was silenced. I have never been asked to speak at that church again, and some of my closest friends who attend there have begun to distance themselves from me because of my stand.(Running Against the Wind, pp. 193-196)
In addition to Wooddale Church silencing Brian Flynn on the matter of contemplative prayer, they have begun to openly embrace aspects of the emerging church (see Wooddale Church Starts the Gathering). For instance, Leith Anderson has shared a speaking platform with Erwin McManus at the Leadership Network Innovation Series, and together Anderson and McManus present the Doctor of Ministry Program for Emerging Leaders at Bethel University's seminary. McManus is author of The Barbarian Way, in which he tells readers that the story of the Crusades "awakens within me a primal longing that I am convinced waits to be unleashed within everyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ." But McManus has an unusual definition of "follower of Jesus Christ." He says: "When asked if they [Barbarians] are Christians, their answer might surprisingly be no, they are passionate followers of Jesus Christ." This might sound OK on the surface, but it is part of the new missiology and the new evangelicalism that Rick Warren and others proclaim, God doesn't care what religion you are, just add Jesus to what you already have. Thus you can be a Buddhist with Jesus, a Hindu with JesusÂthat's OK. McManus clarifies this when he states: "The greatest enemy to the movement of Jesus Christ is Christianity."
According to Bethel's Prospectus for the program that Anderson and McManus lead:
Bethel Seminary is launching a prototype cohort ... that will feature Dr. Leith Anderson as its primary instructor and mentor.... This cohort will seek to engage its members in multi- sensory learning experiences in an effort to ... developing leaders ... to serve as senior leaders in larger emerging churches." (See Prospectus)
Bethel University promotes both contemplative spirituality and the emerging church, and Anderson has been a vital part of those efforts.
When we spoke with various leaders (including Leith Anderson via email) at Wooddale Church a few years ago, we shared our concerns with them about contemplative spirituality. We explained that their Youth Pastor, Heather Flies was (and still is) a regular speaker at Youth Specialties events. Youth Specialties, now owned by Zondervan Publishing, is one of the most influential voices in the Christian contemplative movement. At the time, leaders at Wooddale told us and other concerned members of the church who had contacted us that they were not promoting contemplative spirituality or the authors who teach it. However, at the same time, their onsite church bookstore was selling books by Henri Nouwen and Brennan Manning but keeping them under the counter where they could not be seen. We called and spoke with the store manager and asked her about this. She told us that one of their pastors had told her to keep all the contemplative books out of view and just bring them out when a customer asks for one. On two separate occasions, church members who witnessed a book being pulled out at a customer's request contacted us. In addition to Wooddale's ties with Youth Specialties, the church was instrumental in bringing Richard Foster's Renovare Conference to Minneapolis in 2003. Richard Foster is a pioneer in introducing Thomas Merton's eastern-style meditation to evangelicalism.
Wooddale's ministry online bookstore, My Work Life carries a hodgepodge of New Age and contemplative promoting authors. Some of those are: Thomas Keating, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, Thomas Merton, Mark Victor Hansen, and countless others (see Lighthouse Trails Research for detailed research on these spiritual teachers). The bookstore also carries Yoga for Christians as well as Alan Jones' book, Reimagining Christianity, in which Jones says the doctrine of the Cross is a vile doctrine.
Just where will Leith Anderson help lead evangelicals? There seems little doubt that contemplative and emerging spiritualities will be on the menu for the NAE, while under the guidance of Anderson. But Anderson has not really kept his spiritual proclivities a secret. He has been promoting experience-emphasized spirituality for many years. For example, In Dan Kimball's book, The Emerging Church, Kimball quotes Anderson from his book, A Church for the Twenty-First Century: "The old paradigm taught that if you had the right teaching, you will experience God. The new paradigm says that if you experience God, you will have the right teaching. This may be disturbing for many who assume propositional truth must always precede and dictate religious experience." Regarding the two view points, Anderson says," It is not so much that one is right and the other is wrong: it is more of a matter of the perspective one takes on God's touch and God's truth." (p. 188, The Emerging Church) But if this "religious experience" that Anderson refers to, which takes precedence over biblical doctrine, lines up with Thomas Merton, then those who follow this advice may be going into altered states of silence that ultimately lead to the belief that God is in all (panentheism), and once again the gospel message of Jesus Christ will be severely compromised.
For further information:
A Special Report On Two New Evangelical Organizations
Leith Anderson, "America's Wisest Pastor"?
Leadership Network Hires Wooddale Youth Pastor to Launch Emerging Church
Leith Anderson on Ecumenism - An Interview
Lighthouse Trails Research Project
Editors - Lighthouse Trails Publishing
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