Monday, January 25, 2010

A Conversation Elsewhere That Some Here May Benefit From -- Beth Moore and the Emergent Movement

Originally Posted by DanE
Usually, instead of figuring out what it is, and figuring out what it isn't, here is the type of response you get from alarmers:

Revmitchell, no need to be offended. I made that remark because from talking with you a lot in various threads, I expected some direct evidence from Beth Moore's mouth, not an incredibly biased site that misquotes, and misrepresents these people.
I realize I am jumping in late... I apologize, and this isn't just a response to DanE, but I merely use his prodding as an example for the set of challenges to the idea that Beth Moore is not leaning towards a pagan point of view. In the DVD, Be Still, the main "character" is Richard Foster. Richard Foster is one the main proponents of a newer meditation form that is creeping into the Evangelical/Reformed/Baptist arena. How can I call it pagan? simple, and I quote Foster:

After awhile there is a deep yearning within to go into the upper regions beyond the clouds. In your imagination allow your spiritual body, shining with light, to rise out of your physical body. Look back so that you can see yourself lying in the grass and reassure your body that you will return momentarily. Imagine your spiritual self, alive and vibrant, rising up through the clouds and into the stratosphere. Observe your physical body, the knoll, and the forest shrink as you leave the earth. Go deeper and deeper into outer space until there is nothing except the warm presence of the eternal Creator. Rest in His presence.

Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1978), 27 (emphasis added).
We of the New Age can risk going against the tide. Let us with abandon relish the fantasy games of children.

Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (New York, NY: Harper & Row, 1978), 170 (emphasis added but capitalization in the original).
I have in-depth definitions of what "astral projection" is if you follow the links in the quotes. So anything to do with such a person makes me suspect, as, I am suppose to test all things and hold fast to that which is good. Another person Moore is close to is David G. Benner, who, is the reason I first got involved in this topic of study. I was taking my last class at seminary and it was an integrative Bible Counseling class, and Benner was on the materials list. As I make a habit of, most authors recommended or on the required reading list I will get most of what they write and reference those works as well. This is just one troubling resource I found out in the ether called the internet as reading through his Papa Prayer raised some red-flags in my mind:

“[the] spiritual climate is ripe... [for]... Jesus seekers across the world are being prepared to abandon the old way of the written code for the new way of the Spirit. Paul told us long ago we've been freed by the gospel to live a new way, but we've not known what it is or how to do it.”

David G. Benner, Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 9.
Beth has an unhealthy view of generational sin, almost identical to the "deliverance" ministry of Neil Anderson. One site builds their case against Beth this way:

Moore builds her case for contemplative in her frequent references to Brennan Manning in her book, suggesting that his contribution to "our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel" (p. 72). This is indeed a troubling statement made by a Christian leader who so many women look to for direction and instruction in their spiritual lives. Many of those women, in reading Moore's comments about Manning and her quoting of him in the book may turn to the writings of Manning for further insights. When they do, they will find that Manning is a devout admirer of Beatrice Bruteau of The School for Contemplation.

Bruteau believes that God lives in all creation, stating: "We have realized ourselves as the Self that says only I AM, with no predicate following, not "I am a this" or "I have that quality." Only unlimited, absolute I AM.

(Lighthouse Trails)
Take note that due to many ideas infiltrating my church caused me to leave ("me" defined: my kids grew up there, my wife and I had our marriage saved there... we loved our church and leaving it was hard). I had a new pastor to our church's staff discuss my seminary class with me, to my surprise, he had been involved in this "emergent" movement for over a decade. He knew I was a reader so he dropped off an armfull of books -- which caused me to buy about thirty books by these authors, I read them, then I bought the books critical of them. This is the ideas gleened from these books dropped off to me by a pastor; and keep in mind that Beth Moore is intimately involved with many of them:
  1. that the first three miracles in John were inserted by writers to “woo in pagans,” as they are themselves adopted from pagan stories (something you referred to as an “interesting theory”);
  2. the Virgin Birth was also a deep seated fear of sexuality and not really a miracle;
  3. books that teach that penal substitution as a vile doctrine;
  4. that Hell is not a place for persons to be placed after a future judgment, and that Hell is actually here now and that we must bring in God’s Kingdom (separate from that future judgment);
  5. these books say we do not have the Gospel right yet;
  6. they teach that travelling to Buddhist temples and practicing meditative techniques in these temples is Christian;
  7. they show that many of the practices rejected by the Reformers are in fact useful to the Christian;
  8. they show that Yoga can make one closer to God and to realize and experience the “divine;”
  9. they teach that the doctrines of the Trinity, nature of Christ, nature of Scripture, and the nature of marriage are “still on the table,” doctrinally;
  10. teach that Paul was really communicating Platonism and not bringing us Scripture;
  11. on-and-on.

While I am sure many here can pick apart each book or author/quote and make the conversation die the death of a thousand qualifications (Ravi Zacharias) -- taken as a whole, this entire movement is a threat to the heart-and-soul of the Christian faith, and may be a great falling away. The final or last straw that caused me to leave my church of almost 12-years was the use of a book with the men's college group. I have many audio resources linked off of my critique of this book... so plan on taking some time with this if you are serious about this topic. As you read my critique, keep in mind the following idea from Robert Culver:

There are several economic theories to explain the causes of what Christians call temptation and resulting sin. Most of these have been influenced by Marxist views of mankind as essentially economic beings. Struggle between economic classes is as near as Marxism comes to a doctrine of sin. I leave to the department of Apologetics a thorough canvass of the several Marxist, essentially anti-Christian theories. Chief among them is liberation theology. Though it was primarily a movement among post-Vatican II Roman Catholics, students in undergraduate university classes in sociology met much of the same thought many long years ago when the now generally despised Stalin was still darling of many professors and Chairman Mao was soon to appear.

(Robert Duncan Culver, Systematic Theology: Biblical and Historical (Great Britain: Mentor, 2005), 368.

God Bless and Much Thought [the two go well together]. UPDATE... more posts by myself to enetr into my records:

Paganism -- Pantheistic

Originally Posted by Johnv View Post
I don't think you can qualify this as paganism, since paganism involves the worship of fictitious deities (often being polytheistic). Also, it might be in error to use the Emergent issue as an ad homimem. There are some emergent practices that are perfectly permissible, and there some that are not. We tend to make the mistake of presuming that use of emergent customs means a church is emergent, or that a church that uses the term "emergent" in describing itself is categorically unchristian in its practice. But that is frequently untrue.

In regards to Moore, it's little more than an ad hominem accusation to presume that, since Moore is associated with Foster, and that Foster is associated with the Emergent movement, that Moore's view is pagan.
Again, I said she was "leaning towards a pagan point of view," not pagan. Richard Foster teaches pagan practices (out of body meditations, astral projection). Beth Moore is on the Be Still DVD and supports practices that are part of what shouldn't be accepted from this movement (no matter how hard it is to define this group):

Russell Moore, who is Dean of the School of Theology at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Director of the Carl Henry Institute for Evangelical Engagement, has this to say in regards to the “emerging church:”

"There’s no such thing as the emerging church, that’s what I think. I think that after all of this time talking about the emerging church and emergent and what the emerging church means for evangelical Christianity. I do not believe there is any such thing.... If you’ve got a movement that’s so broad that you have to, every time you talk about it, say, 'now... yeah you’ve got Brian McLaren who holds to some heretical views over here, you have Mark Driscoll who doesn’t hold to heretical views over here, you’ve got Dan Kimball who’s willing to stand up at Willow Creek and argue for the doctrine of hell,' you’ve got all of these differences and disagreements within this movement, is it really even fair to call it a movement?" (Guest hosting the Albert Mohler Radio Program, recorded on 7-28-08.)

(From my chapter on the emergent/emerging movement, "Emergen[t]cy - Investigating Post Modernism," from my proposed book)
You are right as well that there are positive aspects to this movement, nothing is totally negative. David Noebel highlighted some of the positive aspects of the movement:

(1) a critique of the negative aspects of modernism; (2) a strong emphasis on community; (3) a strong emphasis on putting one's faith into action; and (4) a reminder that not all truth is propositional -- e.g. the story of “the good Samaritan” expresses the same truth that is found within the proposition “love your neighbor." (David A. Noebel, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews [Manitou Springs: Summit Press, 2006], 82-83.)

(From my chapter on the emergent/emerging movement, "Emergen[t]cy - Investigating Post Modernism," from my proposed book)
This being said, Beth has her foot in the door fully with Richard Foster in this idea that these meditative practices taken from a pantheistic strain of eastern practices (polytheism does not need to be posited here, but Richard Foster accepts fully Henry Nouwen and Thomas Merton understanding of his faith, as do all on the Be Still video do. Even Rick Warren is getting his feet wet in this pagan (remember, pantheistic) yoking. This next quote comes from, again my chapter, but this large quote is from David Cloud's book, Contemplative Mysticism:

Rick Warren has yoked up with mystic Ken Blanchard on various occasions, and Blanchard is intimately associated with New Age paganism. Blanchard visited Saddleback in 2003 and Warren told the church that he had “signed on to help with the P.E.A.C.E. Plan, and he's going to be helping train us in leadership and in how to train others to be leaders all around the world” (Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, pp. 162, 163). Warren teamed up with Blanchard in the Lead Like Jesus conferences and audio series. Warren used Blanchard's materials in a Preaching and Purpose Driven Life Training Workshop for Chaplains at Saddleback in 2004 (A Time of Departing, p. 167). Warren also endorsed Blanchard's book Lead Like Jesus.

Blanchard, in turn, has strong New Age associations. He wrote the foreword to the 2007 edition of Ballard's book Little Wave and Old Swell, which is inspired by Hindu guru Paramahansa Yogananda. This book is designed to teach children that God is all and man is one with God. In the foreword Blanchard makes the following amazing statement: “Yogananda loved Jesus, and Jesus would have loved Yogananda.” I was a disciple of Yogananda before I was saved, and there is no doubt that he did NOT love the Jesus of the Bible!

Blanchard's recommendation appears on the back cover of Deepak Chopra's The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. He wrote the foreword to Ellen Ladd's book Death and Letting God, which promotes clairvoyance. He endorsed the 2005 book Zen of Business Administration, which is subtitled “How Zen practice can transform your work and your life.”

Blanchard joined members of the New Age occultic project The Secret in January 2008 for a one-day seminar entitled “Your Best Year Ever” (“Ken Blanchard Joins 'The Secret' Team,” Lighthouse Trails, Jan. 14, 2008). Rhonda Byrne, the author of The Secret, thanked “Esther Hicks and the teachings of Abraham.” Abraham refers to a group of spirit guides that Hicks channels. The Secret teaches the New Age doctrines that man is god. “You are God in a physical body ... You are all power ... You are all intelligence ... You are the creator” (p. 164).

Lighthouse Trails wisely observes:
  • “Did Rick Warren know of Blanchard's sympathies when he brought him in to help at Saddleback? Of course he did. And do you think that Rick Warren and Ken Blanchard are going to train their 'billion' soldiers for Christ how to practice New Age mysticism and learn how to go into altered states of consciousness? You bet. And that is definitely something to be concerned about” (“Rick Warren Teams up with New Age Guru,” Lighthouse Trails, April 19, 2005).

Warren is also closely associated with New Age mystic Leonard Sweet. He teamed up with Sweet in 1994 to produce the Tides of Change audio set published by Zondervan. A photo of Warren and Sweet are pictured on the cover. Warren endorsed Sweet's book Soul Tsunami, the endorsement appearing on both the front and back covers. Warren invited Sweet to speak at the 2008 Saddleback Small Groups Conference called Wired.

Sweet promotes a New Age spirituality that he calls New Light and “the Christ consciousness.” He describes it in terms of “the union of the human with the divine” which is the “center feature of all the world's religions” (Quantum Spirituality, p. 235). He says it was experienced by Mohammed, Moses, and Krishna. He says that some of the “New Light leaders” that have led him into this thinking are New Agers Matthew Fox, M. Scott Peck, Willis Harman, and Ken Wilber, plus the Catholic-Buddhist Thomas Merton. In his book Quantum Spirituality Sweet defines the New

Light as "a structure of human becoming, a channeling of Christ energies through mindbody experience" (Quantum Spirituality, p. 70). He says humanity needs to learn the truth of the words of Thomas Merton, "We are already one" (Quantum Spirituality, p. 13). Sweet draws heavily from Catholic mysticism. He says:
  • "Mysticism, once cast to the sidelines of the Christian tradition, is now situated in postmodernist culture near the center. ... In the words of one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, Jesuit philosopher of religion/dogmatist Karl Rahner, `The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something, or he will be nothing"' (Quantum Spirituality, 1991, p. 11).

Observe, then, how close are the ties between contemplatives and the New Age! And contemplative spirituality is the bridge.

This is only a tiny glimpse into this frightful matter. Rick Warren does not believe that all religions worship the same God or that man is God, but his enthusiasm for contemplative practices and his lust for the newest thing have brought him and his followers into close association with those who do. He is promoting the same type of "spiritual" practices that are nurturing the New Age and his thinking is being corrupted by being this illicit association. Evangelicals who are reading and recommending books by mystics would be wise to take heed to this warning. If they delve into Catholic contemplative practices they are in great danger of being corrupted by this illicit endeavor. (185-187)
Beth is just one cog in this larger machine that taken as a whole is a threat to the historic, orthodox faith. 
Hop on Down the Rabbit Trail Peter Rabbit
Just in case person's here do not take the care to follow the links provided, I will provide a bit more info from them to make clear these connections that people so often dismiss as ad homonym. Here for instance is my Lighthouse trails link in the original post (just a snippet):

Beth Moore quotes Manning from his book Ragamuffin Gospel calling the book "one of the most remarkable books" (p. 290) she has ever read. But it is this very book that reveals Manning's true affinity with contemplative spirituality. In the back of the book, Manning makes reference to Basil Pennington saying that Pennington's methods will provide us with "a way of praying that leads to a deep living relationship with God." However, Pennington's methods of prayer draw from Eastern religions. In his book, Finding Grace at the Center, Pennington says:
  • We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and "capture" it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible. Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices. (from A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p.64)

Manning also cites Carl Jung in Ragamuffin Gospel as well as interspiritualists and contemplatives, Anthony De Mello, Marcus Borg, Morton Kelsey, Gerald May, Henri Nouwen, Annie Dillard, Alan Jones, Eugene Peterson, and Sue Monk Kidd.

For Moore to call Manning's book "remarkable" and to say his contribution to this generation of believers is "a gift without parallel" leads one to conclude that Beth Moore has absorbed Brennan Manning's spirituality.
I have noted elsewhere on the ether of the internet Brian McLaren's deep connections to the Jesus Seminar fellow Marcus Borg. To know who Marcus Borg is and the positions the Jesus Seminar takes, I suggest a wonderful book: Jesus Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents the Historical Jesus, by Michael J. Wilkins and J. P. Moreland (editors); or his debate with William Lane Craig.

At any rate, this newer movement, taken as a whole is very troublesome to say the least. Now, if you follow a link from that Lighthouse Trails article down its rabbit trail, you find this:

The speaker, Brennan Manning, was impressive. I had read his books on grace and healing, and attended his meetings that my church had sponsored. Still, I felt uneasy. So much love, I thought. But what about the clear word to lay aside childish things, to take hold of the greater, truer aspects of one’s identity in Christ? Agreed—God embraces us in our weakness. But in our wickedness? I wondered about his take on sexual purity, especially on homosexuality.…

I met with Manning for lunch to pursue these questions. He appeared genuinely offended when I expressed my concerns over his ambiguous references to homosexuality in his writings. During our uneasy meal, he advocated for committed gay couples; he also challenged my commitment to a biblical sexual ethic--no sex with either gender outside of the heterosexual marital covenant—as narrow and uninformed. I shared with him about Desert Stream's commitment to providing safe and powerful opportunities in the church for the transformation of the homosexual. My assistant Mark Pertuit and I both shared about our own healing journeys. Manning dismissed our offering on the grounds that I was not enough of a moral theologian to be taken seriously on the issue.

Obviously, Manning and I have a different take on moral authority. Mine is derived from a conservative take on Scripture; his base of authority is unclear to me. But out of that lack of clarity emerges from him (and, sad to say, many like him) a dreadful sentimentalizing of homosexuality. Strangely, those bound by same-sex tendencies become the “sacred cows” of healers like Manning. Instead of embracing confused men and women with truth and grace, these ones dance around the struggler, granting him or her an almost heroic status. The result is a false compassion that can encourage one to identify and act on one’s homosexuality....

....(Read More)....
Oh what a tangled web we weave. Of course all this was discussed many years ago in a now free book on-line (click on the book graphic from my site): Christianity and Liberalism. I hope one can see the dangers in not checking out these "teachers" before spreading them to the masses as authoritative. I think discernment is the idea/word of the week here.