Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Lighthouse Trails Research maintains a list of Christian colleges and universities that are teaching contemplative prayer, mysticism and practices including spiritual formation disciplines. The relationships among Christian educational institutions, emerging contemplative & spiritual formation proponents, and psychoheretics examined: 


Now, Cincinnati Christian University & Seminary has been added to the above list, as described in the article from Lighthouse below:

"Lighthouse Trails has now added Cincinnati Christian University (and Cincinnati Christian Seminary) in Ohio to its list of Christian colleges that are promoting contemplative spirituality and Spiritual Formation. The school began in 1924 and was founded on the “Restoration Movement.” Wikipedia has an interesting description of the history of that movement here. On a website called The Christian Restoration Association, it explains that leaders in the movement wanted to just call themselves Christians and stay away from any denominational boundaries. The site states: “The uniqueness of this group lies in its desire to restore the church of the New Testament, not in its form of dress, mode of transportation, or in the language spoken or read, but in its doctrines, ordinances, and faith.” Unfortunately, Cincinnati Christian University (birthed from that movement) has attached itself to the contemplative prayer movement. Perhaps leaders at CCU do not realize that contemplative spirituality does not line up with the “doctrines, ordinances, and faith” of the Bible. The CRA website lists seven other higher learning schools associated with their group. Of those, one of them, Hope International University in Fullerton, CA, is also on our Contemplative Colleges list.
As with all of the other schools on the Lighthouse Trails Contemplative Colleges list, Cincinnati Christian University has incorporated Spiritual Formation into their school and seminary. For instance, in their PMN 502 03 – SPIRITUAL FORMATION course (taught by Professor Rick Lowry), the following textbooks are being used:
Richard FosterCelebration of Discipline
Gary ThomasSacred Pathways
Henri NouwenThe Way of the Heart
Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus
Calvin Miller, The Table of Inwardness
Dallas WillardThe Spirit of the Disciplines
John OrtbergThe Life You’ve Always Wanted
Calvin MillerInto the Depths of God

Professor Rick Lowry’s “course objectives” are stated in his syllabus as:
1.       Become acquainted with the broad field of ancient and contemporary literature in the area of spiritual formation.
2.       Be exposed to the classic spiritual disciplines and encouraged to initiate the process of a personal practice of these disciplines in their daily walk with Christ.
3.       Be equipped to effectively teach the information on the spiritual disciplines to those in their sphere of influence.
4.       Be made aware of the reality of spiritual warfare in the context of spiritual formation.

The first three objectives are evidence that the class is going to glean spiritual “insights” from the contemplative authors it will be turning to. Point 4 is quite interesting when you think about Richard Foster’s warning to those practicing contemplative prayer that they need to pray prayers of protection first. We certainly couldn’t agree more with Professor Lowry that with contemplative prayer comes spiritual warfare (but we see it in a much different light that he most likely does). We believe that the realms entered during contemplative meditation are occultic and are dangerous.
In PMN 502 Spiritual Formation at CCU, Professor Mark Miller teaches it. Miller is using textbooks by Ruth Haley Barton and Dallas Willard and says he expects students to do the following: “During the course a variety of different traditions for formation will be introduced; the student will be expected to interact respectfully with these traditions to the point of appropriate application to their own spiritual formation” (emphasis added). If students are expected to interact with Ruth Haley Barton’s “tradition,” they will actually be interacting with the tradition of panentheistic contemplative mystics such as Thomas Keating, whom Barton admits had a lot to do with her own spirituality (see our report on Barton).

(See our previous posts about Ruth Haley Barton:
In PMN 502(02) – SPIRITUAL FORMATION (Professor David Roadcup), the near exact same books and objectives are listed as in Professor Lowry’s class. Also see PMN 502 Spiritual Formation (2011) taught by Professor Bill Weber who used many of the same textbooks as these other professors. 
These  instances tell us that contemplative is not isolated to just one professor at CCU but is  integrated into the school system.
To back up that assumption, here are a few more examples of where we found contemplative “signs.” 1) On this page for general career information, Richard Foster is quoted (here). In a 2008 e-newsletter, Ruth Haley Barton is given as a resource on page 4 (though a disclaimer – “not necessarily completely endorsed by the CCA” (Center for Church Advancement – part of CCU) is given. Also in this newsletter, it announced that Calvin Miller (a strong contemplative advocate) was scheduled to be a speaker at their Preaching Summit that year. This tells us that contemplative spirituality has been coming into CCU for quite a few years. We must make note of something else here to show how subtle spiritual deception is. In this newsletter from 2008, on page 2, point #6, a book named Reveal: Where are you? is referenced. That book came out of Willow Creek a few years ago when Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor at Willow Creek came out with a very highly publicized statement saying that Willow Creek was repenting from many of the seeker friendly methods they had used. But when Lighthouse Trails researchers looked further into this, we realized that in actuality, Willow Creek was becoming more contemplative and more emerging than before. What appeared to be repentance (meaning going toward the Lord and biblical truth) was the opposite. We wrote about this situation in our article, “No Repentance from Willow Creek – Only a Mystical Paradigm Shift.”
There are other CCU courses where contemplative/emerging authors are being used as well. For instance, in 2011 in the PIC 516 Urban Ministry course, Professor Bill Weber used a textbook titled Social Justice Handbook (with a who’s who of the emerging social justice movement: McLaren, Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Shane, Claiborne, etc.). In 2012, in PMN 625 Creativity in Preaching & Teaching by Professor Gary Johnson, books by Calvin Miller and Andy Stanley are used.  In PMN 652 Seminar in Leadership,  instructors are using a textbook, Replenish, by contemplatives Lance Witt and John Ortberg. Lance Witt (a Saddleback pastor) once told Lighthouse Trails that he taught a mantra-like prayer practice to those attending his studies.
One last example here showing the direction that Cincinnati Christian University is going. At a CCU event, Youth Ministry Summit 2013, the key note speaker was Chap Clark, part of an organization called Sticky Faith (from Fuller University). The Sticky Faith website is packed with contemplative resources as you can see here, including a webcast with contemplative pioneer Mark Yaconelliwho told Lighthouse Trails once that he does teach a mantra-style prayer to youth, and his book Contemplative Youth Ministry would back that up (see our research on Yaconelli and his book). Chap Clark was himself part of Youth Specialties, a leading voice in the emerging church movement for many years and is senior editor of Youth Worker Journal (a publication that has historically promoted contemplative spirituality and the emerging church). On the Youth Worker website, you can find everything from book  recommendations for people like atonement rejector Alan Jones and goddess worshipper Sue Monk Kidd to articles encouragingpracticing lectio divina and so forth.
It is clear, as we have shown, that Cincinnati Christian University (and Seminary) is drawn to authors and teachers who promote a contemplative mystical spirituality. As we mentioned in our new Booklet Tract, ”An Epidemic of Apostasy – How Christian Seminaries Must Incorporate “Spiritual Formation” to Become Accredited,”  CCU is accredited through Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE), which requires member schools to incorporate Spiritual Formation into their school program. Apparently, CCU has no problem complying."

"July 2013 Update on Colorado Christian University: On July 10th, our office received a call from a concerned parent whose child attends Colorado Christian University. She saw that most of the links on our 2009 Letter to the Editor (see below) regarding CCCU were no longer working. We have been able to fix a few of those, and we are providing an update about the school. The parent’s question to us was, “Is Colorado Christian University still a contemplative college?”
Perhaps one of the most obvious signs that CCU is still a contemplative-promoting school is the fact that contemplative advocate Larry Crabb is a CCU professor. He was also the key note speaker at the  CCU 2013 Pastor’s Conference.  Lighthouse Trails has discussed Crabb in the past, in particularly about his book, The Papa Prayer, where he tells readers he has benefited much from contemplative and “centering” prayer (see our review).
(Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel also reviewed "The Papa Prayer", which mixes psychology with mysticism:
For those who may not realize just how committed Crabb is to the contemplative mission, consider this: Crabb is one of three Founding Executive Editors of a publication called Conversations Journal. The other two founding editors are David Benner and Gary Moon, both contemplative proponents as well. Lighthouse Trails has followed this magazine for a number of years and often quoted from or referred to it in (in a critical way). Others listed on the Copyright/Editorial page of Conversations Journal  are Richard Foster and the recently deceased Dallas Willard (Editorial Consultants), Basil Pennington (in Memorium), on the Editorial Board – John Ortberg and Ken Boa – both contemplatives. Section Editors include Emilie Griffin of Renovare and Jan Johnson (see A Time of Departing for examples of Jan’s contemplative propensities). Also on the Editorial Board is Jeannette Bakke. Bakke was recently discussed in a LT article about Ruth Haley Barton. She teaches at the Christos Center where people are trained in contemplative spirituality.  Conversations Journal is a who’s who and what’s what of contemplative spirituality. Just go to their website and use their search engine. Try terms like Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, labyrinth, lectio divina, Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, and so forth. No one could deny that Conversations Journal is a strong advocate for contemplative spirituality. And in a proper line of reasoning, one would have to admit that CCU  is being impacted (contemplatively speaking) by having the Executive Editor of Conversations Journal teach at CCU.
In addition to Crabb’s role at CCU, the  2013-214 CCU catalog  includes a strong emphasis on Spiritual Formation.
Lighthouse Article Continued Below Related Information:_____________________________________________________________

New Way Ministries of Larry Crabb,, contains a brief biography of himself, excerpted:
"Dr. Larry Crabb is a well-known psychologist, conference and seminar speaker, Bible teacher, popular author, and founder/director of NewWay Ministries. In addition to various other speaking and teaching opportunities, Dr. Crabb offers a weekend conference throughout the country entitled Life on the Narrow Road and a week-long School of Spiritual Direction held in Colorado Springs, CO. He currently is Scholar in Residence at Colorado Christian University in Colorado and serves as Spiritual Director for the American Association of Christian Counselors." 

Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised reported that Crabb was invited to speak at Moody Church in Chicago:, excerpt:
"The Moody Church in Chicago is led by senior pastor Erwin Lutzer, who is widely known to be a staunch defender of maintaining a biblical worldview rather than succumbing to the liberal compromises of the day. That is why it is rather curious that Lutzer has chosen to hand his pulpit over to Larry Crabb, a psychologist-turned-spiritual-formation-expert whose efforts and books tend to promote contemplative prayer, mysticism, and elevate subjective experience over and above objective truth."

J. Beard's article about Crabb at,
"Crabb believes that the best counseling model is one in which "truth" from both the Bible and the "spoils" from secular psychology are "integrated" into a combined counseling model."

See our post about John Eldredge, Larry Crabb and Colorado Christian University, and how they are interrelated:

Martin Bobgan's articles on Larry Crabb from "Psychoheresy Awareness Ministries", which shows Crabb's syncretizing psychology with the Bible:"Larry Crabb's Gospel ""Has Larry Crabb Changed? . . . another look""Larry Crabb: 'Dr. Doublespeak'?""Has Larry Crabb Changed?""Is Crabb Now Anti-Psychology?""Crabb Responds"

Orrel Steinkamp of Plumbline Ministries, via Deception in the Church, page 1 reads quote:
"Larry Crabb, a popular evangelical Christian psychologist of the last decade and author of many books, has apparently graduated to the contemplative. He expresses clearly the bankruptcy of pragmatic seeker sensitive spirituality. For him the mindless mysticism of Contemplative Prayer has brought him reality he apparently never found in pragmatic seeker sensitive spirituality. Here is his description of his former prayer-life. 
"[Biblical] praying to God is something like e-mailing a relative you've never met, who lives in a place you have never been...Your relative never sends a picture of himself, never sends a picture of his house or land, and always writes a generic letter addressed to 'my much loved relatives,' like the ones we receive every Christmas. His emails never come only to you and are therefore never addressed only to you. He never calls, and you can't call him. He has no phone." (Crabb, The Pappa Prayer). It Amazes me that silent nothingness of the contemplative solves his problem. The antidote to Crabb's unbelief appears to be an openness to mystical experiences repackaged centuries later from the so-called Desert Fathers and Mothers of 3rd and 4th centuries."
Lighthouse Article Continued:

One of the most troubling things we learned (from the parent who called us) was that in April 2013, CCU invited Catholic Archbishop  Aquila to speak at CCU.  In Aquila’s speech at CCU, he states, “We all share the imperative of evangelization.” But the Archbishop is NOT talking about the same kind of evangelization as a biblical Christian would. There is only one kind of evangelization in the Catholic Church, and that is the evangelization to bring back the “lost brethren” (Protestants/evangelicals) to the “Mother Church.”  The Archbishop’s speech was a “let’s all get together to save America,” kind of speech, but the real goal of the papacy has always been to convert people to Catholicism.  As a school that claims to adhere to biblical principles and beliefs,  CCU leadership should know better than to have any part in an ecumenical effort that surely gave students the impression that Catholicism is a legitimate form of Christianity. Please read Roger Oakland’s book Another Jesus if you do not understand this.
Last, in this update, Kevin Turner, the Associate Professor of Youth Ministry and Theology at CCU’s School of Theology wrote a book titled Learn Before You Leap: 101 Case Studies for Youth Pastors (2012). Under a section titled “Contemplative Prayer Practices,” Turner poses a question about contemplative practices: prayer labyrinth, praying the Scriptures, lectio divina, and the Jesus Prayer (p. 142). He doesn’t come out and say they are either good or bad, but in the acknowledgements section of the book, he thanksYouth Specialties and its founder the late Mike Yaconelli who taught Turner ”how to feed [his] soul in a ministry context.” Turner states: ”When I began teaching, YS published the textbooks I used in class, and the YS academic support network became my community. Through the majority of my almost-50 years, Youth Specialties has been there at every step to help, inform, and inspire me. Since 1995 it has been a thrill to be involved on the NYWC staff along with Tic, Michelle, Marko, Mark, and so many others.” For those who aren’t aware, Youth Specialties has been a leading voice in promoting the emerging church movement and contemplative spirituality to tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of youth in America. We can’t help but wonder if Turner absorbed Youth Specialties’ contemplative affinity. If he did, then, like Larry Crabb, he will be passing this on to CCU students.
 Now, our 2011 Letter to the Editor
To Lighthouse Trails:
I am looking at colleges and it is really important to me that I find a college that will not have bad theology, is contemplative, new age, etc.
I went onto your website and found the list of colleges that are contemplative and Colorado Christian University was among them.
Everything I see on their website looks great. I was wondering how to determine whether a college fits into that category or not? I don’t want to go somewhere that could warp my faith but I also want to know what makes Colorado Christian a contemplative University?
Excerpts from our answer:
Dear  ________,
It’s a real dilemma with the colleges. So many of the Christian colleges are so influenced by the contemplative/emerging church spirituality, and our viewpoint is that this is very dangerous and against Scripture. The school in Colorado is one of the more emerging colleges out there. . . .
Here are some links regarding Colorado Christian University to back up what we have said about it. ______, if you have not readCastles in the Sand and Faith Undone, we hope you will before you go to college, wherever you choose.
Colorado Christian University:
1. Studying teachings of contemplative/emerging figures –  (This page has a number of contemplative and emerging references . It comes right out and says it will be studying the teachings of contemplatives such as Brennan Manning and Henri Nouwen.):
 ”We will be reading and discussing a variety of writers who will take us on a journey of honest self-examination, and provide us with a vision of what true, authentic , Biblical community really is. We will be reading from people like: Brennan Manning, Larry Crabb, Henri Nouwen, Andy Stanley, and Phillip Yancey.”
2. Here you can see that the school has a very strong emphasis on spiritual formation (the vehicle through which contemplative/emerging enter):
One example: Pastors Conference with contemplative advocate Larry Crabb
Regarding the textbooks they are using, we could show you many examples but here are just a few. This one is where they are using emerging church leader Brian McLaren: (link removed).  This really shows how far this school has gone down the emerging path.
This one is where they are using Youth Specialties former president Mark O (link removed).   Youth Specialties is a leader in the emerging church.
On this page, you will see textbooks they are using for their Leadership Program. One of them is a blatant New Age mystic (Daniel Goleman): (link removed)
We could go on and on with examples as this school is one of the most blatantly emerging schools out there (along with most Nazarene colleges, sad to say). If we can answer any specific questions, now or anytime later, please let us know. God bless."