Churches Leading Their Sheep Astray

Photo by Trinity Kubassek on Pexels.com

There are many things in todays evangelical churches that are actually leading Christians away from Biblical Christianity. Things like the social justice gospel, CRT, the Emerging Churches thinking of being “missional” basically redefining how to be a Christian (which you cannot change without changing the gospel), pursuing ecumenicism, affirmation of LGTBQ and in some denominations welcoming LGTBQ, moving away from teaching the scriptures soundly to telling stories, motivational speeches, and using scripture out of context to fit unbiblical agenda’s for the church, and utilizing spiritual formation or by its truer name, contemplative spirituality (Centering/Listening prayer, Breath prayer, Lectio Divina, spiritual guides etc.) and still so much more. The interesting thing is, all of the above are unbiblical elements being brought into our churches through pastor’s and leader’s who have aligned themselves with the Progressive/Emerging Church movement. This post is going to focus on Contemplative Spirituality.

If you listen to what Progressive/Emerging Church leaders say in regard to going back to the early church or the ancient church, they are not referring to the NT Church found in scripture, the one in Acts. They actually are referring to “Christians” from after the first century, most often they draw from the Early Desert Fathers and even quote Early Desert Mothers. The scriptures, the inspired Word of God, is the manual for the NT Church period, but many pastor’s and leaders are following men who have combined the Bible with the teachings of many who are not Christian influences, but are Catholic theologians, Jewish theologians, Catholic mystics, Jewish mystics, new age influences etc. This is really problematic for the NT Church and these influences are leading Christians away from Biblical Christianity.

Contemplative spirituality comes from the Early Desert Father’s and Mother’s (beginning around the 3rd century. They focused on austerity, prayer/contemplation, works/social justice…not the Great Commission), they were essentially Roman monastics or monks and nuns. Contemplative spirituality is really monastic mysticism which the Desert Father’s and Mother’s took from Eastern Religions like Buddhism and Hinduism, and is essentially the same spirituality used in the New Age/New Thought spirituality. Contemplative or Mystical practices have been a long standing integral part of the Eastern Orthodox Church (Catholic) and Roman Catholic churches, and focuses on “stillness” and “silence”… these practices are not rooted in scripture, nor are they rooted in the early NT church. So, why are our churches introducing us to unbiblical practices? Honestly, the only thing I can come up with is a lack of discernment. These practices are demonic and are dangerous, but more and more churches are introducing them to its people. Not to long ago I saw an event advertising this very thing not to far from where I am located. The thing with contemplative spirituality is it focuses on experience by utilizing pagan religious ways and these open the mind up to spiritual influences that are in opposition to the Holy Spirit. The Bible teaches the NT Christian to seek God through prayer and through scripture by setting our minds toward God, conscious minds and hearts not with an empty mind. The NT Christian is filled with the Spirit of God and we don’t have to use false spirituality to gain access to Him, if we are truly seeking Him we will find Him, He will make himself known to us and we do this to grow in the intimacy of a personal relationship with Him! (Jer. 29:13, Ps. 63:1, Matt. 7:7, Ps. 34:4) We are not (or should not be) seeking some higher spiritual plane that we can only get to by being silent and empty minded. This is so dangerous. Matt. 6:7 tells us not to use vain repetitions when we pray because that is what heathens do. This can also mean chants or mantras these are apart of contemplative prayer and are not Biblical.

So, who are some contemplative spirituality influences impacting evangelical churches? Richard Rohr (Catholic Mystic), Richard Foster (Quaker Mystic), Thomas Merton (Catholic Mystic who draws from Buddhism), Brother Lawrence (Carmelite Monk), Henri Nouwen (Catholic Mystic), Leonard Sweet (Emerging Church Leader/New Age), Tilden Edwards (Founder of Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation), Brian McLaren (Progressive/EMC Leader), Dallas Willard (Philosopher/Spiritual Formation), Brennan Manning (author/Laicized priest), Thomas Keating (Catholic Monk). There are many more that can be mentioned and their influence into our churches through the Emerging Missional Church/Progressive Christianity is nuts! The influence of contemplative spirituality is Catholicism and Eastern Religion, it is demonic and not Biblical. I encourage you to watch out for it and to reject it. It has no place in the NT Church or in the practice of NT Christian’s. That’s it. StraightUp!

Missional or Actually Emergent/ Progressive?

Photos from Wikipedia

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.

Another Gospel

I just want to take a moment to highly recommend picking up a copy of Another Gospel by Alisa Childers. If you are struggling with questions about Christianity or you are seeing things in the church, but you just can’t pin point what you’re seeing, get this book! It just might shed some light on things. Find it on Amazon.

The Tragedy of Apostasy

First, you might be asking, “What is apostasy?” For the Church or the Believer in Jesus Christ, apostasy is basically the falling away from the truth; willing rejection of the truth of God which a person once believed.

My previous post talked about influence and that who is influencing each of us matters as well as who is influencing those people matters. On one hand the Believer should realize that the apostasy of the Church (this isn’t talking about the Catholic church, this is in regard to the NT Church) is made known to us in scripture (Matthew 24:10-12) yet so many don’t recognize it or speak up to expose it. (It is happening now and it is happening fast!) Why? I believe it is because we don’t want to offend the other party and that is the tragedy of apostasy. Believer’s today would rather ignore or tolerate false teaching and keep “the peace” or for the sake of “unity” or to keep from losing a friendship, business opportunities, ministry opportunities, or even to keep from losing popularity with the masses. This. Is. Tragic. Influence is a huge part of it. Beth Moore is probably a really good person apart from her now progressive theology, but the fact remains her doctrine, her theology is no longer Biblically sound – how did she get there? Influence. Who is influencing her? Well, look at who she follows on social media and you will find numerous Emerging/Progressive Christians.

Who do you follow on social media? Why do you follow them? Most likely you follow the people you do because you are a “fan” of what they do…music, movies, Christian leader/teacher etc., or you agree with their thinking and/or theology/doctrine. Have you ever looked at who those Christian teachers are following? You should. It is very eye opening! If who you are following are following and being influenced by others who are not Biblically sound, that is going to trickle down to you at some point. Would you recognize it? Would you even care?

Recently I received a message from Creo Collective a group of Emerging “Missional” pastors and leaders within the EFCA (I wrote some about this in my post Just Like Tempering Eggs), this message was to persuade me that it is not Emergent. I had already done enough research to know that isn’t really the case. Who they follow online also shows that they are aligned with the Emerging Missional Movement. Here is a quick list: Ed Stetzer, Scot McKnight, Alan Hirsch (look at who he follows and you will find the Pope, other EMC including apostates Rob Bell and Brian McLaren), Brad Brisco, Dan Kimball, Reggie McNeal, Erwin McManus, Brennan Manning, Jen Hatmaker, Eugene Petersen, Richard Rohr, Caesar Kalinowski (will find him following EMC and progresives like Brandon Hatmaker), Hugh Halter (you will find him following Jen and Brandon Hatmaker, Rachel Held Evans-LGTBQ advocate/ Christian, Gungor – progressive musician, Rob Bell an apostate, other EMC people) Andy Stanley, Matt Chandler, Jeff Vanderstelt… What’s my point? This is a short list of who Creo follows online – it is a list of EMC leaders, contemplative spiritualists, and even progressive Christians (social justice, LGTBQ advocates). Then if you look at who these people follow, it isn’t really encouraging. Another thing you find among this group and those they follow, is ecumenicism – basically anyone who labels themselves a “Christian” is a brother/sister in Christ….um, this is not Biblical. Because in this list you have Jen Hatmaker, and she and her husband have rejected God’s Word regarding homosexuality and are actually apostates of the Christian faith. (Isaiah 5:20) We are to separate ourselves from such people, not embrace them (1 Cor. 5:11). In this group you will find the embracing of the Catholic faith (not a Christian faith based on Biblical doctrine) … all because of unity, tolerance and everyone is made in the image of God etc. One of the main markers of the Emerging Missional (coined by Brian McLaren) is less importance on doctrine or the sound teaching of it and heightened focus on relationships with people and good works, another marker is having conversations rather than share the gospel, another is ecumenicism/universalism (unity of ALL faiths), another is social justice (which is basically Marxism and not Biblical). Creo Collective and the EFCA are very much connected to the EMC and Progressive Christian movements, and they aren’t alone so is the Southern Baptist Convention, the Wesleyan Church, Presbyterian etc. How can pastors and leaders be influenced by such people and maintain sound Biblical teaching? They can’t. Whoever is influencing them, is shaping what they think and believe about ministry, life, society, and God’s Word (1 Cor. 15:33) In these denominations, there are handfuls of pastors who are rejecting these things, but they are the minority and that is tragic.

“Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” – 2 Corinthians 6:14

The NT Church is falling away at warp speed! I believe the reason why is that there are no longer clear lines as to what is really Biblical Christianity and what is not. If you look at what is happening in society right now, we are seeing scripture leap off its pages, and the Bible says that when these things happen, there will be a great falling away of the Elect…that’s the Church. We have allowed so much unsound teaching into the Church through influence and now the Church is conditioned to it. If our spiritual mentors have taken a turn towards a ditch of false teaching, we need to call them out on it and if they don’t listen, we need to separate from them, but most of us don’t. Why? Most likely we don’t want to admit that the people that have had an impact on our spiritual journey have managed to jump the track into something that is no longer Biblically sound. A year ago or close to it when the Lord started me looking into Caesar Kalinowski, it opened a box of people who I had enjoyed learning from that I would need to step away from (Look into one false teacher and your search will naturally take you into a circle of others who teach the same) – if we missed something that showed the move to an unbiblical direction, we repent, separate from them and warn others about them. The tragedy of apostasy is the Church today would rather appeal to the feelings of men rather than stand for the truth of God’s Word. That’s it. StraightUp!