I realize more and more that people just do not want to guard themselves from false teachers, false practices and other things. We really should be paying attention to the names of authors and such that our pastors and leaders quote in their sermons or on their social media. Maybe they don’t directly quote a false teacher, but the people they are following just might be! Even recently someone shared about a book they had read I looked up the author, and sure enough he follows several Missional church leaders. I have looked up people that people I followed (don’t anymore) to see who is influencing them and it is nauseating to see certain names show up in follows and in quotes or re-tweets. So here is a list of the most common contemplative mystics you might run into if you or someone in your church are being influenced by false teachers.
Richard Rohr – Franciscan Friar, mystic and ecumenical teacher. (Founder of CAC).
Richard Foster – Quaker mystic who is a primary connector between evangelicalism and contemplative spirituality. (Quaker doctrine says that every person possesses a Divine inner light of truth.)
Henri Nouwen – A Jesuit Catholic priest and mystic who interestingly enough was a homosexual.
Thomas Keating – Catholic (Trappist) monk a key developer of contemporary Centering (contemplative) prayer. Moved mystical contemplative practices out of the RC monasteries and introduced them to the Catholic church.
Thomas Merton – Catholic (Trappist) monk, mystic who popularized contemplative mystical spirituality among the Catholic church and introduced the practices to the Protestant church.
Rumi – A Sufi (Islamic) mystic.
Honi or Choni – Jewish mystic who lived in the 1st century. Honi was the inspiration for the book Circle Maker which has brought this false mystical practice into thousands of churches.
Again, the Desert Fathers & Mothers – very popular among those who promote missional church as are all those I mention prior.
I’m also going to put Bill Johnson and Bethel Redding on this list. They practice and sell books on contemplative/mysticism.
Now, I don’t know about you, but ALL of these individuals are from the Catholic religion or some others. None of these practice anything close to NT Christianity, but they are the influences of those training up new pastors and leaders in our churches, they are the influences of those who were once biblically sound but now have gone into a ditch of heretical teaching. If we see or hear these names among our pastors, leaders, friends etc. we need to question it – is it a one time oops or is there a pattern of drawing from such influences? Maybe your pastor has stopped naming the sources he quotes in his sermons, why? Just because Rumi can say things that sound good and nice doesn’t mean he is someone we as born again Christians should be reading or quoting. The Bible and those He used to write it is the only resource for the NT Church all of these other things and people I have written about are outside of biblical Christianity. Time is running short. Are you really following the Jesus of the Bible (have you surrendered your life to Him) or are you following a Jesus that is relevant to how you think He should be? Church, we are commanded to be watching, alert and on guard for those who try to pull us away with false teaching, methods, philosophy of men. Wake up! That’s it. StraightUp!
First, let’s talk about the photo to the right! As you can see the internet label above the photos says, “The Emergent Church leaders” that’s right. These are some of the more prominent leaders of the Emerging Missional Church Movement. The top first two (Brian McLaren and Rob Bell) seem to get a lot of space from those trying to warn the Church to avoid them since they are extremely heretical and in reality probably not even born again Christians. The third one on the top, gets some attention as well, and again he (Doug Pagitt) is extremely heretical and likely not a born again Christian. Some of you might be saying, “you don’t know if they are saved or not..” actually, research them and you will understand the statement. The other two guys on the bottom are Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch…yes! Alan Hirsch is an EMC leader! See one of the things that has made researching the EMC over the past year a challenge, is the reality that there are more than one stream of it, but all of the streams focus on being “missional”. A short background on Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, they are considered to be “Deconstructionist” (or in another term, Progressive Christians) basically, they flat out reject much of scripture, use scripture out of context when they do use it, practice contemplative spirituality, are LGTBQ affirming, all that, Like I said before, you can do your own in depth research.
I’m going to focus on Alan Hirsch for now, since he has a great amount of influence on EFCA pastors and leaders through the group Creo Collective. Alan Hirsch is South African with ties to Australia, and is one of the most prominent teachers of being “missional” and for his teaching of APEST (which would be a whole other post) – he is what is known as a Reconstructionist in the EMC stream. What is the desire of this Reconstructionist? The church is irrelevant in their (Reconstructionist) opinion so the church needs to change to meet the needs of the changing culture (even though the Church was never called to do this), so we have the push and the expertise of Alan Hirsch to be ‘missional’ and incarnational. Include everyone, exclude no one. A bigger picture of what this looks like is having conversations rather than evangelize, do works, social justice, utilize spiritual formation (contemplative spirituality…which is new age/Eastern Orthodox Mysticism) and some Emergent/Progressive Christians like Shane Claiborne promote monastic community (this comes from following the Desert Fathers – Catholic). Here is the thing NONE of this is NT Christianity.
There is a reason these things are not apart of the NT Church, they are actually influenced by the Eastern Orthodox Church which draws from 2nd – 3rd Century ‘Church Father’s’ rather than the Word of God itself, contemplative spiritual practices are common place, as well as many elements of Catholicism (which this stumped me for awhile) but Hirsch has an Orthodox view of scripture and the gospel so these things highly influence this movement. I will say of many other EMC leaders, they also have these same leanings. So, is it ‘missional’, Emergent, or Progressive? Yes! Actually, it is all the same movement. The Emergent and Progressive movements are intertwined, some a little more extreme than others. Those like Alan Hirsch follow and endorse those such as Brian McLaren. There is no separation due to heresy or apostasy as the Bible says there should be. No, these people support each other in the ‘mission’. According to David Fiorazo an author, speaker and radio host who has written on the Emerging Church confirms the Emergent movement has morphed into what we are seeing as the Progressive Christian movement. The Progressive movement reject the authority of literal interpretation of scripture therefore sound teaching of scripture is not important.
Even Creo Collective, the group for missional minded pastors in the EFCA (which is welcoming not affirming of LGTBQ), is following this Progressive movement. In September, they held teaching on the ‘Early Church’ (apostolic teaching, creeds, confessions, catechisms, early church fathers and mothers)… this is CATHOLICISM. All of these things are rooted in the Catholic traditions NOT in NT Christianity. This is ecumenism pure and simple. More clearly, this is turning evangelical churches into heretical churches. Neither the Eastern Orthodox Church nor the Catholic Church are the NT Church. The Bible gives all the information we need to see and know what the NT Church is and how it is to function. You can not bring people to Jesus with a biblical gospel, when the basis of what you believe, teach and promote are not aligned with the Word of God. Might there be some in these movements and the Catholic faith who have heard a biblical gospel and have been born again? Yes, this is possible, however their leadership are compromising with secular culture instead of being faithful to true biblical teaching.
This movement is full of mud puddles of doctrine and heresies. Alan Hirsch and many like him are Dominionist and Amillenial in their end time eschatology. The Bible is clear on the end time events, so even in this, our churches and leaders are being influenced with unbiblical doctrines. These things have to matter or we are going to find ourselves far away from our desired destination. That’s it. StraightUp!
If you know nothing about Progressive Christianity, checkout Alisa Childer’s new book Another Gospel…it will be a starting point.
In July 2019, I watched some video training by a guy on Facebook that was shared by one of my pastors. I quickly saw some things that really were not inline with scripture. As I began to look a bit closer into him and those who he is connected with in ministry, as well as those who endorse his books, I found a line leading right into the Emerging Missional Church Movement. As I continued looking into these people, I eventually stumbled onto a connection of this in the EFCA (Evangelical Free Church of America).
In my looking into these people and others connected with them, I came across a couple of articles about the EFCA and contemplative spirituality on the Lighthouse Trails website from 2013 and 2014, but nothing more current, so in February of this year I sent a Letter to the Editor sharing with them what I was finding and asked them what they were seeing more currently, so below is my letter, their response and a comment that was left by an E-Free pastor. I have prayed about what to do with this information for weeks, and as I continue to have conversations with people and their concerns about false teaching and just things that are not biblically sound happening in their churches or churches of people known to them, I believe it is time to share this.
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I know you have posted some things regarding the EFCA back in 2013-2014 and contemplative spirituality, but I haven’t seen anything more current so I thought I would share some things with you that I see. As a member (Technically) of an EFCA church, I accidentally stumbled across some things that, if correct, should be concerning to anyone who is attached to the EFCA.
So, as you probably know, in June 2019, the EFCA removed “premillennial” [belief in a thousand year reign of Christ after the tribulation] from their SOF and replaced it with “glorious return.” I wondered why, and this past Fall, I found the answer. There is a Vimeo video online of the President of the EFCA sharing why he wanted people to vote yes to the language change from premillennial to glorious return. What was his reason? A group of young pastors who wanted to credential under the EFCA but they couldn’t say they agreed with the premillennial view. I could be wrong, but that sounds like compromise. On June 19, 2019, the amendment was approved.
Then, in a search about the “Emerging Missional” movement, a blog post showed up on the EFCA website titled “Understanding the Missional Church” dated May 2012. The EFCA is going in the direction of the Missional Church movement or at least part of it is. Inside the EFCA is a grass roots group of pastors and leaders who desire to live and be “missional”*— that group is known as Creo Collective. Now, might this be the group of pastors who weren’t sure they could agree with the “premillennial” view? You have to Google Creo Collective (www.creocollective.org) to find them as they don’t just show up on the EFCA website.
I should mention that it is my understanding that not all EFCA pastors agree with the direction the EFCA is headed (however, that is not the case in our local church). From what I can tell, this movement is actually a part of the Emerging Church or at least it would appear that way. Why? Well, in 2018 Creo Collective trained EFCA pastors and leaders on the APEST model as taught by Alan Hirsch and his book Forgotten Ways. Alan Hirsch, as I believe you know, is an emerging church leader, and he is endorsed by many other EMC leaders. When you look at people Hirsch quotes, they are not people most Christians would be quoting. He tends to quote contemplative spiritualists, social-justice teachers, progressives, Catholic priests, etc. When I looked on the Creo Collective FB page for 2020, the first thing that comes up for training (coaching) is spiritual formation and later in the schedule is more training (coaching) on the APEST.
What’s my concern? Is the EFCA in fact lining up with the Emerging Church movement? What do you at Lighthouse Trails see happening?
The following is the response from those at Lighthouse Trails. Their comments are used with permission and may not be used without their verbal or written consent.
“We agree that there are some EFCA leaders and pastors who are not promoting or embracing emergent church teachings or heading in that direction. However, we also share your concerns about EFCA as a whole and about their present leadership and direction. What we were observing in 2013 and 2014 regarding the EFCA has now borne its emergent “fruit.” As you can see in this 2011 recommend resources list, EFCA had made the decision to go down the contemplative mystical path. And now today, as you have pointed out, partly through EFCA groups like Creo Collective, they have followed the “natural” course that contemplative leads to—emergent, “progressive,” social justice; and based on what has happened to so many other denominations, we predict it will only get worse for the EFCA. Once a group starts down the contemplative path, only a determined and committed effort and desire to stop will keep that group from going full-blown emergent, socialist, and ultimately anti-Gospel.
While EFCA doctrines of belief statements still adhere to biblical principles, there are definite indications they are compromsing in order to keep everyone happy. We must remember that doctrines of belief statements are not enough to show an accurate gauge to how biblically healthy a denomination is. What must also be looked at are the various movements, recommendations, groups, pastors, churches, and offshoots of a denomination because those are what give a far more accurate glimpse into the future of that denomination. Creo Collective, plus the EFCA connections to emergent leaders such as Alan Hirsch are two examples of where EFCA is going.
One of several examples we saw of EFCA’s apparent compromising in order to keep everyone happy is a statement made about Replacement Theology** where they make allowance within their denominational structure to accept it or reject it. And coupled with their recent vote to remove the word “premillennial” (a word that would generally include Israel’s role in the last days scenario), our concerns that EFCA is indeed becoming emergent are only heightened.
*Missional: Replacing the term missions; it strives to improve society through social justice. De-emphasizes evangelism to the lost. Emphasizes being relevant and connected to the culture.”
The following is a comment left by an E-Free pastor after my letter was posted on Lighthouse Trails website, again I was given permission to use his comment. This is not a pastor I personally know nor is he from my state or district.
“As a Pastor of a EV Free Church I can tell you that you are correct that there has been a massive turn towards Emergent Spirituality within the EFCA. I have labored to warn leadership at our District and National levels concerning the dangers of Spiritual Formation, Contemplative Spirituality and their Social Gospel leanings. All of those efforts fell on deaf ears. Our District leadership has invited Emergent Speakers for district leadership meetings and they have endorsed such heretical mystics as St John of the Cross and Teresa of Avila. Our little church will not be embracing any of that. We are going to stick with the Bible and the simple gospel message of the cross. We are not interested in the latest church buzzwords and business models. We are definitely in a time of Apostasy and I am thankful for Lighthouse Trails, the Berean Call, and men and women such as Dave Hunt, Warren Smith, Ray Yungen, Caryl Matrisciana, Trevor Baker and others who have had the courage to stand for the Lord in these last hours. My prayer is that the church would wake up and cast off the works of darkness! Our prayers are with you! Endure dear saints, the Lord is coming soon!”
Over the past few months I have talked with two other E-Free pastors who confirm the concerns expressed in this post.
So, why do I post this? Because people need to know. We are in serious times in society and in the Church. As I have prayed as to whether the Lord would even want me to put this out there, He kept bringing to mind the process of tempering eggs. I love to make Creme Brulee, and when you do that, you have to temper the eggs with the hot cream little at a time. What I got from the Lord in His bringing this to mind, is this, deception comes into the Church a little at a time just like adding a little hot cream mixture to the eggs a little at a time so the eggs adjust to the change that is taking place and eventually you can just mix the rest of the cream in without worrying about messing up the eggs. That is the same thing with deception coming into the church, it comes a little at a time, tempering you so that you are conditioned to the change that is taking place, by the time people realize what is happening they will already actively be supporting and living in a Christianity that is no longer about a biblical gospel, a biblical Jesus, or even a true biblical Christianity. This post isn’t just for those connected to the EFCA it is for any Believer in Jesus Christ who is seeing some things that appear to be out of line of Biblical Christianity – it is time for the Church to wake up! That’s it. StraightUp!