republished below in full unedited for informational, educational and research purposes:
The headline above is from an article Lighthouse Trails wrote in 2015. We are posting this article again because this month four highly popular evangelical leaders did something that more than surprised many people. And we believe what they did is a perfect example of what this article is warning.This week SBC adherents watched in (near) terror as prominent Southern Baptist pastors, including Franklin Graham, Jack Graham (no relation to Franklin or Billy), Robert Jeffress and Greg Laurie [not SBC], tweeted their approval of a new book by Paula White, President Trump’s spiritual advisor. In another time, these long-respected gospel preachers and conservative leaders would never have risked reputation and religious conviction to promote her.One can only speculate at this point why these high-profile evangelical leaders would endorse a book written by someone who has aligned with the prosperity-gospel and the New Apostolic Reformation (see links below). It doesn’t take much imagination to believe that these endorsements by the two Grahams (not related), Jeffress, and Laurie were politically motivated.As we explain below, there is every reason for American Christians to be seriously concerned about the state of our country and to hope and pray for godly leadership in the political realm. But will Christian leaders and pastors replace commitment to the Gospel for commitment to a unified dominionist agenda to “save the country”? Sadly, in many cases, the Gospel has already been replaced with various substitutes, and dominionism is one of those.2015 Article by the Editors at Lighthouse Trails:
Will Christians Replace Commitment to the Gospel for Commitment to a Unified Dominionist Agenda to “Save the Country”?As America is fast approaching another presidential election year, Dominionist/Kingdom Now political and religious figures are joining forces with evangelical Christian groups. While having concern for the state of America is more than legitimate, will Christians replace commitment and loyalty to the Gospel for commitment and loyalty to a dominionist agenda? If they do, they will learn the hard way that compromise and a “whatever it takes” attitude will do more harm to the cause of Jesus Christ than good.This article is not a statement that Christians should not be involved in or concerned about the political state of their countries. Rather, the intention of this article is to exhort believers to use discernment in understanding the times in which we live. It is to show how a present ecumenical, dominionist movement (that is heading toward a one-world religion to “establish the kingdom of God on earth”) is operating and deceiving many Christians. As Christians, we are to be witnesses for Jesus Christ and His Gospel message of salvation. But today, many Christians may be on the brink of buying into a plan that will ultimately create a global religion and global government.The apostle Paul was very clear that we are not to entangle ourselves with those who say they are of the faith but preach “another gospel” (Romans 16:17, Titus 3:10, 2 Corinthians 11: 13-15).The definition below of dominionism is helpful in understanding the goals of the dominionist movement:The Gospel of Salvation [according to dominionism] is achieved by setting up the “Kingdom of God” as a literal and physical kingdom to be “advanced” on Earth in the present age. Some dominionists liken the New Testament Kingdom to the Old Testament Israel in ways that justify taking up the sword, or other methods of punitive judgment, to war against enemies of their kingdom. Dominionists teach that men can be coerced or compelled to enter the kingdom. They assign to the Church duties and rights that belong Scripturally only to Jesus Christ.1Dominionism shares some of the same ideologies as the emerging church, the primary similarity being the belief that a utopian “kingdom of God” will be set up on earth prior to the return of Jesus Christ, and in fact there won’t actually be a bodily physical return of Christ; but rather His presence will become more manifest within us the more the kingdom of God on earth is created. This is totally contrary to Scripture that tells us that Jesus Christ will return physically (where every eye shall see Him), and it will be to a world that has become completely chaotic and reprobate, not utopian and godly.Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. (Revelation 1:7)An article titled “7 Mountains – Set to Go Viral” examines the goals of this dominionist agenda, expressing “concern that this radical mandate for dominionism, and the leaders of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) which birthed it, are becoming part of the political Right and evangelical mainstream.” The article states that the “7 mountains mandate is already becoming a unifying rally point among evangelicals from many diverse theological camps and from some very unexpected quarters.”The Dominionist/Reclaiming our Culture mind-set is a dangerous path that leads, not to biblical truth, but rather to an ecumenical, Road to Rome, “Army for God” that will attempt to force culture to be “Christian” (something Jesus Christ or the disciples never mandated) and will end up leading all down that Road to Rome and eventually into a one-world religion and one-world government.The article assesses:Not only does the Kingdom of God have a different King to the kingdoms of the world, but it has different citizens, has a different future and it operates by different principles. One of the principles that makes God’s Kingdom radically different to that of the world is the lust for power as opposed to the willingness to serve.“Jesus said: ‘Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.’” (Matthew 20:25-28).2This is not to say that Christians should not try to be a light and the “salt” in a fallen culture (Matthew 5:13). But there is a difference between what Scripture instructs us to do and what the 7 Mountains movers teach; they believe they are “building an actual PHYSICAL kingdom here on earth — structurally through man’s mechanisms. This is the 7 mountains that they want to take over. They believe they can take them over by political, scientific, and psycho-social means.” And like the New Agers, they also want to build the spiritual kingdom within, “which they believe they can perfect themselves here on earth via mysticism” thus “they will begin to ‘manifest’ Christ — become the sons of God.”3A Civil War?In a radio transcript titled “Blues and Grays,” Roger Oakland of Understand the Times states:Christianity is about to be purified through a civil war, they say. Is this behavior indicative of a revival as some claim? Or is this exactly what occurred in the past when “enlightened Christians” became the “manifested sons of God”?
[In] an article written by Rick Joyner called the Coming Civil War in the Church. . . . Joyner states he believes a civil war will soon be breaking out within the church. He states: “There is a huge portion of the church which is being held bondage to the same religious spirit that manifested itself to the Pharisees, and it will attack any new movement that arises in the church. The more anointed the new movement is, the more these traditionalists will be threatened by it, and the more vehemently they will attack it.”
Joyner’s solution for removing the people who oppose this “anointed new move” sounds rather militant. Listen to what he says:
“The longer we continue to compromise with such institutions which use manipulation or control for the sake of unity or for any reason the more it will ultimately cost us to remove the cancer from our midst.”
Joyner then went on to describe how the conflict in the church will develop:
“The coming spiritual civil war will be between the Blue’s and the Gray’s. In dreams and visions blue often represents heavenly-mindedness, and gray speaks of those who live by the power of their own minds – which is equivalent to the brain’s gray matter. This will be a conflict between those who may be genuine Christians, but who live mostly according to their natural minds and human wisdom, and those who follow the Holy Spirit.” 4In Kevin Reeves book, The Other Side of the River, Reeves discusses Rick Joyner. Reeves, a former elder of a Latter Rain/dominionist church, states:Joyner’s blatant Latter Rain beliefs were assimilated into our congregation on the wings of the mythical end-times revival which would supposedly sweep millions into the kingdom. A super-spiritual elite group of prophets and apostles will be raised up, Joyner states, and will transform the world of these last days, doing greater miracles than even the apostles who walked with our Lord. Whole nations will tremble at the mention of their names.
Interesting. Sounds a lot easier to deal with than Jesus’ prophecy that “[Y]e shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9).5In Final Quest, Joyner says he hears from a dead saint (one of the foolish virgins mentioned in Scripture), who has told him the things that are to come. According to one researcher, “Rick Joyner was one of the ‘Kansas City Prophets’ who now wields considerable influence through his ‘prophecies’ about a coming militant church.”6 Joyner states:We are coming to the times when passive Christianity and passive Christians will cease to exist. There is a maturity, a discipline, and a divine militancy coming upon the people of God. Those who have succumbed to humanistic and idealistic theologies may have a hard time with this, but we must understand that God is a military God. The title that He uses ten times more than any other in Scripture is “the Lord of hosts,” or “Lord of armies.” There is a martial aspect to His character that we must understand and embrace for the times and the job to which we are now coming.7We know that the Lord will return with a cloud of witnesses to bring down judgment on the earth, but we don’t believe Rick Joyner or the self-proclaimed apostles and prophets will be leading the way.Will the Christian Church Sell Out?During the years just prior to the 2008 presidential election, an all out effort was made by leaders in the emerging church to help get elected a liberal, far left president. Many of these leaders, such as Rick Warren, said things that made many conservative Christians feel guilty for voting on moral issues such as abortion and homosexuality. Books by emerging “progressive” authors suggested that Christians shouldn’t even become involved in politics (e.g. Shane Claiborne’s book, Jesus for President) (see our booklet on this issue). And while the older conservatives were being manipulated not to vote, young Christians were being persuaded to vote differently than their “old fashioned parents,” to vote for social justice regardless of biblical standards or lack of them. And, well, no need to say what these emerging efforts did to America.No single political party can save the world. The Bible says that the closer we draw to the second coming of Christ, the worse the state of the world will be in. Rather than “evolving” into perfection, mankind is disintegrating.8 It’s because of man’s sin and a world that has for the most part rejected the Savior of the world. Revelation 12:9 states that the day will come when Satan will “deceiveth the whole world.” Yet just as Jesus gave the coin to pay the tax to Caesar, so too we as Christians can be responsibly active in our world. But foremost, let us remember that the Bible says we cannot serve both God and man at the same time (Matthew 6:24).The true calling of born-again believers is to preach the Gospel, make disciples, and contend for the faith. And we must never compromise by embracing dominionist agendas and interspiritual Peace Plans and joining forces with those whose goals and ambitions are contrary to the Christian commission given to us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must ask ourselves, is a militant dominionist agenda what we really want to embrace and support? Is it what we want to serve?In a powerful radio interview a few years ago, former radio host Ingrid Schlueter addressed this dominionist agenda. She stated:We have a group of leaders who are horrified with the moral collapse in this country. I am horrified with the cultural collapse in this country. We have a problem in identifying and discerning why our culture is collapsing. What we are seeing around us is not fruit of Christians not caring. It’s fruit of Christians abandoning the gospel. And if we’re not going to define the gospel along biblical terms, and we’re going to allow false teachers in among us, and we’re going to link arms with said false teachers, and we’re going to work with them who are preaching another gospel, who are teaching lies, if we’re going to link arms with them to save the culture, we are not only engaged in a futile effort, but God is going to, in turn, judge that conduct. Because judgment, Scripture tells us, begins at the house of God.9An article on this issue states:The sad fact is that great opportunities to present the message of the gospel of salvation are being lost. Precious time is being wasted . . . Those who truly need to hear a message of repentance, salvation and hope aren’t being witnessed to. Discipleship isn’t happening. . . . It is a false gospel that preaches that the culture/nation can be changed rather than focusing on the lost who will perish in hell if they do not repent. . . . And when the lost are truly saved and born again, their lives will change and this is when the miracles begin to happen and when the culture around them begins to be positively impacted by the salt and light of their changed lives.10Lighthouse Trails is dedicated to warning the sheep about last-days spiritual deception. While it is difficult to have to sound this warning at a time when many are concerned about the state of their countries and the world at large, Jesus made it very clear about how we are to view the world, behave in the world, and reach out to the unsaved. He never told his disciples to form associations with those promoting spiritual deception in order to establish a kingdom on earth. On the contrary, Jesus said:If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (John 15:18-19)
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (2 Corinthians 6:17)My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. (John 18:36)Notes:
- “Dominionism and the Rise of Christian Imperialism”: http://www.crossroad.to
- “Seven Mountains Set to Go Viral
- Discernment Ministries in an e-mail conversation on 8/15/2011 with Lighthouse Trails.
- “Blues and Grays” by Roger Oakland
- Kevin Reeves, The Other Side of the River, (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2007), p. 99.
- “TAKING THE LAND—“We Are Establishing Our Eternal Place And Position Here On Earth” by Rick Joyner, 11/29/05, http://www.elijahlist.com/words/display_word.html?ID=3617
- Please watch Roger Oakland’s powerful DVD lecture series on evolution vs creation. It shows the connection between evolution and the current spiritual deception in the world today: Searching for the Truth on Origins.
- VCY America interview with Ingrid Schlueter
- “May Day Prayers: What Repentance?”
Links to Paula White’s teachings (click here then scroll to the bottom of that page to see several video clips)________________________________________________________Remembering Ray Yungen and Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative PrayerThree years ago today author and researcher Ray Yungen passed away at the age of 64. As regular Lighthouse Trails readers know, it was through Ray’s work that Lighthouse Trails begannearly 18 years ago.Interestingly, on the eve of this 3rd anniversary of Ray’s departure, we read an e-mail notice we received this week promoting Richard Foster’s writings. The notice was from a group called Conversatio Divina (from The Dallas Willard Center). The late Dallas Willard was the man who initially influenced Foster toward the contemplative path. We consider these two men (Willard and Foster) the leading pioneers in bringing contemplative spirituality into the evangelical church (something that has had devastating results).We estimate that, to one degree or another, almost every evangelical church in North America has been affected by contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation). If that sounds like an exaggeration, consider this as one way this happened: In Rick Warren’s book The Purpose Driven Church (his first book which has sold over 1 million copies), Warren identified Willard and Foster as the two key players in the Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative prayer) movement (p. 126). Later in his book The Purpose Driven Life (which has sold over 32 million copies and been used by over 400,000 pastors), Warren encouraged the use of contemplative breath prayers (p. 115) and “practicing the presence” (pp. 114-116). Between the two books, tens of millions of Christians and hundreds of thousands of pastors have been introduced to contemplative spirituality.Below is an article Ray Yungen wrote about Richard Foster’s contemplative affinities. We encourage you to read it because sooner or later your church is going to encounter this deceptive anti-Gospel spirituality. And we hope when that day comes, you will be ready to identify it and stop it from entering your church.A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative PrayerBy Ray Yungen[W]e should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.1—Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline: the Path to Spiritual Growth
Christianity is not complete without the contemplative dimension.2—Richard FosterIn Portland, Oregon there is a large bookstore devoted entirely to New Age spirituality. Every Eastern mystical and metaphysical topic under the sun is found there. Interestingly, there is a sizable section on contemplative prayer with Catholic monk Thomas Merton having a whole shelf devoted just to his writings. Why would a New Age bookstore give valuable space to a topic that purports to be Christian? That is a legitimate question. May I suggest the reason is that the “Christian” mystical tradition (i.e., contemplative prayer) shares a sense of profound kinship with the Eastern mystical tradition. There is ample evidence to support this claim.In this booklet, we are going to examine a few of the major players in the contemplative prayer movement to show that Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer does not belong in Christianity. In fact, as you will see, the message behind it is the very opposite of biblical Christianity and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.What is the “School” of Contemplative Prayer? In Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster says “we should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.” What does he mean when he says “school” of contemplative prayer? When Foster uses the word school, he does not mean, of course, a building or an institution somewhere. For example, Webster’s New World College Dictionary has nine different definitions for the word school. The one that fits what we are trying to get across is:. . . a group of people held together by the same teachings, beliefs, opinions, methods, etc.3When one examines the spiritual context of this definition, one can see what kind of spiritual “fruit” it produces. The only way you can ascertain the real essence of a movement is to look at the leaders or prominent individuals in that “school” to see just where their practices have led them, what conclusions they have come to, and what propels their vision of truth.Let’s first establish what is meant by the word contemplation. Carl McColman in his Big Book of Christian Mysticism explains the context of it in the following way:[Contemplation] comes from the Latin word contemplare, which means “to observe” or “to notice.” The word is also rooted in the word “temple,” however, relating it to sacred space. . . . Once Christianized, contemplation lost its association with divination [soothsaying] and came to signify the prayerful practice of attending to the presence of God.4So if Foster is correct, the leaders of this movement are those who have turned to the presence of God in a unique and profound way, and their methods should be followed to achieve the same results.Now let’s look at the spiritual perspectives of these leaders in the “school of contemplative prayer.”Thomas Merton Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk, is the most widely recognized of the modern-day contemplative writers. His influence is enormous in the contemplative field. Richard Foster quotes Merton over a dozen times in Celebration of Discipline and in other books as well, and many other evangelicals also quote Merton. The following entry from Merton’s published work, The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (written during his last trip to Asia*) speaks volumes as to Merton’s spiritual sympathies:We went looking first for Chatral Rimpoche [a Tibetan holy man] at his hermitage above Ghoom. . . . We were told he was at an ani gompa, a nunnery, down the road. . . . So off we went toward Bagdogra and with some difficulty found the tiny nunnery . . . and there was Chatral, the greatest rimpoche [a Buddhist teacher] I have met so far and a very impressive person.
. . . We started talking about dzogchen and Nyingmapa meditation and “direct realization” and soon saw that we agreed very well. . . . The unspoken or half-spoken message of the talk was our complete understanding of each other as people who were somehow on the edge of great realization . . . and that it was a grace for us to meet one another. I wish I could see more of Chatral. He burst out and called me a rangjung Sangay (which apparently means a “natural Buddha”) . . . He told me, seriously, that perhaps he and I would attain to complete Buddhahood in our next lives, perhaps even in this life, and the parting note was a kind of compact that we would both do our best to make it in this life. I was profoundly moved, because he is so obviously a great man, the true practitioner of dzogchen, the best of the Nyingmapa lamas, marked by complete simplicity and freedom. He was surprised at getting on so well with a Christian and at one point laughed and said, “There must be something wrong here!”If I were going to settle down with a Tibetan guru, I think Chatral would be the one I’d choose.5 (emphasis added)An equally revealing aspect of Merton’s Asian trip is what he experienced at a Buddhist shrine in Ceylon:. . . an inner clearness, clarity, as if exploding from the rocks themselves, became evident and obvious. . . . All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear. The rock, all matter, all life, is charged with dharmakaya[the unity of all things and all people]. . . I don’t know when in my life I have ever had such a sense of beauty and spiritual validity running together in one aesthetic illumination. Surely . . . my Asian pilgrimage has come clear and purified itself. I . . . have seen what I was obscurely looking for. I don’t know what else remains.6 (emphasis added)Why would someone who was so heavily involved in “Christian” mysticism be so entwined in and enthusiastically embracing of Buddhist mysticism? I considered titling this booklet Something’s Wrong Here because even though Chatral meant it in a positive way, when he said those words to Merton, he himself was shocked that Merton, a professing Christian, was basically on the same page as him and that they were able to fellowship.One of Merton’s biographers, William Shannon, made this very clear when he explained:If one wants to understand Merton’s going to the East it is important to understand that it was his rootedness in his own faith tradition [Catholicism] that gave him the spiritual equipment [contemplative prayer] he needed to grasp the way of wisdom that is proper to the East.7What Merton meant by “dharmakaya” is actually what the New Age and eastern religions call cosmic consciousness (i.e., God is in everything and everybody.) But Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, guarantees the reader that what he’s promoting will not lead to cosmic consciousness. He states, “It involves no hidden mysteries, no secret mantras, no mental gymnastics, no esoteric flights into the cosmic consciousness.”8Foster’s attempt to assuage any suspicion of practicing contemplative prayer is countered by William Shannon’s assertion that it was precisely contemplative prayer that brought Merton into his embracing of this Buddhist worldview.A skeptic might say, well, Merton was just an anomaly who got off track, but in general the contemplative leads to the God of the Bible. I beg to differ. To show this is not the case, we need to look at other teachers in the “school of contemplative prayer.”Henri Nouwen Dutch Catholic priest, Henri Nouwen, would probably rank second to Merton in influence and admiration. Popular evangelical author Tony Campolo calls Nouwen “one of the great Christians of our time,” stating:[Nouwen’s] writings have guided and inspired Christians of all persuasions . . . whose life was a brilliant example of twentieth-century saintliness.9Campolo’s admiration is widely mirrored in the evangelical world; just as Merton is quoted in many evangelical books these days, so also is Nouwen. Kay Warren, Rick Warren’s wife, is one of the popular evangelicals who sees great value in Nouwen’s work:My wife, Kay, recommends this book: “It’s a short book, but it hits at the heart of the minister. It mentions the struggles common to those of us in ministry: the temptation to be relevant, spectacular and powerful. I highlighted almost every word!”10 (emphasis added)The book Kay Warren recommends is In the Name of Jesus by Nouwen, who devotes an entire chapter of that book to contemplative prayer, saying:Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love . . . For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required.11 (emphasis added)But just as Merton had absorbed eastern spirituality so too had Nouwen, which is no surprise because he was a disciple of Merton. Nouwen wrote the foreword to a book that mixes Christianity with Hindu spirituality, in which he says:[T]he author shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Moslem religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian . . . Ryan [the author] went to India to learn from spiritual traditions other than his own. He brought home many treasures and offers them to us in the book.12Nouwen apparently took these approaches seriously himself. In his book, The Way of the Heart, he advised his readers:The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart . . . This way of simple prayer . . . opens us to God’s active presence.13But what “God’s active presence” taught him, unfortunately, stood more in line with Hinduism than evangelical Christianity. He wrote:Prayer is “soul work” because our souls are those sacred centers where all is one, . . . It is in the heart of God that we can come to the full realization of the unity of all that is.14 (emphasis mine)Again, a Christian admirer of Nouwen may think the previous quotes could fit into a legitimate Christian experience of God’s love and grace and that I am just taking these out of context. But this is certainly not the case. Nouwen himself revealed his spiritual influences in his diary, Sabbatical Journey, which he wrote shortly before his death:On our way to the health club I had bought a Walkman to listen to an audiotape with a talk by Matthew Fox called “Creation, Spirituality, and the Seven Chakras.” So, while working up a sweat on the trotter, I tried to make my time useful listening to Matthew Fox.15This piece of information reveals that Nouwen was connected to the idea that the chakras, (which the previous quotes are based on) are integral to spiritual development. The crown chakra, in particular, is the one that is tied to the idea that all is one and the unity of everything that is.16In the book, The Essential Henri Nouwen, which is published by Shambhala Publications (a Buddhist publishing house), Nouwen said contemplative prayer “opens our eyes to the presence of the divine Spirit in all that surrounds us.”17 That is exactly the same as what Merton meant by dharmakaya, that God is in everything that exists (panentheism, which mirrors occultism).Thomas Keating Thomas Keating, a trappist monk like Merton, is head of an organization called Contemplative Outreach. He is closely identified with the contemplative prayer (which he calls centering prayer) movement. Keating has written numerous books on the subject of contemplative prayer; in fact, one of evangelical Christianity’s most popular teachers, Ruth Haley Barton, considers Keating to be a strong spiritual influence in her life.18Keating actually makes this point when he informs his readers that “‘meditation’ means to people exposed to Eastern methods what we Christians mean by contemplation as a way of disregarding the usual flow of thoughts for certain periods of time.”19As with the others, Keating went in a Hindu or New Age direction, and he wrote the foreword to a book devoted to what practitioners of Yoga call the Kundalini or serpent power:Since this energy [kundalini] is also at work today in numerous persons who are devoting themselves to contemplative prayer, this book is an important contribution to the renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition. It will be a great consolation to those who have experienced physical symptoms arising from the awakening of kundalini in the course of their spiritual journey . . . Most spiritual disciplines world-wide insist on some kind of serious discipline before techniques of awakening kundalini are communicated. In Christian tradition . . . the regular practice of the stages of Christian prayer . . . contemplation are the essential disciplines.20To show how far someone can stray using contemplative prayer as a way to reach God, Keating is a perfect example. Keating enthusiastically endorses a book titled Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey in Christian Hermeticism. Fortune-telling Tarot cards are one of the major tools for divination in occultism; and Hermeticism is a set of ancient esoteric beliefs based on the writings of Hermes Trismegistus, the one who coined the occult term “as above so below.” Keating said the book is one of the “great spiritual classics of this century.”21 He drifted so afield from even Catholicism that it is difficult to comprehend.Richard Rohr Without a doubt, Catholic priest Richard Rohr is one of the most prominent living proponents of contemplative prayer today. His organization, The Center for Contemplation and Action, is a bastion for contemplative spirituality. And like our other contemplative prayer “school” masters, he has been embraced by numerous popular evangelical authors. Richard Foster, for example, had Rohr on an advisory board for a 2010 book Foster edited titled 25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Essential Devotional Classics.22Rohr has essentially become the new Thomas Merton to an entirely new generation of evangelical Christians. In an interview, Rohr said:[O]ne of my publishers . . . told me that right now my single biggest demographic is young evangelicals—young evangelicals. Some of my books are rather heavy. I’m just amazed.23Rohr’s statement is correct about young evangelicals. A case in point is an organization called IF: Gathering. The leaders of IF are dynamic energetic women who hold large conferences geared primarily toward young evangelical women. While these women may be sincere in what they are trying to do, they promote figures such as emergent leaders Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, as well as Richard Rohr. Lighthouse Trails has published a booklet on IF that I encourage you to read to understand the full scope of this growing women’s movement.24To further understand the significance of this, Rohr is a prominent champion for the idea of a global religion that would unify the world. He says that “religion needs a new language.”25 And that language to bring about this one-world religion is mysticism (i.e., contemplative prayer)! Rohr stated:Right now there is an emergence . . . it’s coming from so many different traditions and sources and parts of the world. Maybe it’s an example of the globalization of spirituality.26This view ties in perfectly with the emerging church’s perspective that is so popular among younger evangelicals today. It’s no wonder that Richard Rohr and emerging church leaders (such as Brian McLaren) are so supportive of each other and endorse each other’s books.In echoing Merton and Nouwen, Rohr also advocates the concept of dharmakaya. This is the recurring theme of the “school” of contemplative prayer. Rohr states:God’s hope for humanity is that one day we will all recognize that the divine dwelling place is all of creation. Christ comes again whenever we see that matter and spirit co-exist. This truly deserves to be called good news.27To dispel any confusion about what Rohr is saying, he makes it clear in the same paragraph what he means by God dwelling in all creation. He uses a term that one finds throughout contemplative literature, which signifies that Christ is more of an energy than a personal being. Rohr explains the term “cosmic Christ,” telling readers that everything and everyone belongs to God’s kingdom.28 That’s even the name of one of his books, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer.In his 2011 book, Falling Upward, Rohr implies that we (humanity) are all an “immaculate conception.”29 If these things are true, then there was no need for Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for the sins of mankind. We would not need a Savior because we would already be divine ourselves. In truth, contemplative spirituality is the antithesis of the Gospel. That is why there are countless mystics who claim to know God (or Jesus) but will have nothing to do with the Cross.The New Age Connection Lighthouse Trails Publishing’s main endeavor since its inception has been to show the strong connection between the contemplative prayer movement and the broader spectrum of New Age spirituality as pointed out at the beginning of this booklet. One can prove the overwhelmingly strong parallels. The authors I have just profiled are not unique in what they say. I could list several pages of other contemplative authors that say the identical things.I want to showcase one other author who represents the typical contemplative viewpoint. Tom Harpur, a well-known author, broadcaster, and Anglican priest in Canada sums up what you would find in virtually every contemplative book from the Roman Catholic and Anglican tradition. In talking about his upbringing in the traditional Anglican church, he explains the radical difference between his former Christianity and his contemplative Christianity:There was much more emphasis on our basic sinfulness and depravity than there ever was on the possibility of God already being present in our souls or “hearts.” I was told to again accept Christ and “let him come in” instead of being helped to acknowledge the fact that all I had to do was to open my inner eye and realize God was already there waiting to be known and followed. We were taught little, if anything, about the great mystics and about the long tradition of meditation in our own Christian faith.30 (emphasis added)Harpur makes Lighthouse Trails’ point very succinctly that the mystical tradition that is coming to the forefront now does not correspond to the biblical Gospel that has been at the heart of Christianity.Let me say this: If the contemplative prayer movement was not connected to historically respected denominations, that if it was an independent organization such as the ones found in books on cults, then the contemplative prayer movement would be labeled a cult by most evangelical organizations because of the extreme aberrations one finds concerning the Gospel. Merton’s dharmakaya cannot be reconciled with justification through faith by the blood of Christ.The Age of Enlightenment Another good example to show that contemplative prayer shares the same view as known occultists can be found in a book called Tomorrow’s God by New Age author Neale Donald Walsch, in which he presents the coming world religion that will unify mankind in what is called the Age of Aquarius or Age of Enlightenment (i.e., the New Age). He says the first step is to “[b]egin a schedule of daily practice in meditation, deep prayer, silent listening.”31 After giving the mechanics of the new spirituality, Walsch gives the theology which is: “In the days of the New spirituality the unity of all things will be experiential.”32This is what the contemplatives experience in their mystical sessions. Walsch again says, “The Big Idea is that there is only One God, and this one God does not care whether you are Catholic or Protestant, Jewish or Muslim, Hindu or Mormon, or have no religion at all.”33 This is basically what Richard Rohr is saying in Everything Belongs. And this is the reason why Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer is not, and never will be, compatible with traditional biblical Christianity or the Gospel message proclaimed by Jesus Christ and his disciples.Final Thoughts If I were to ever meet someone who asked me, “why are you out to destroy Richard Foster?,” I would tell them: I actually care about Richard Foster. The things I write about him are not out of malice or ill-will but out of a deep sense of commitment to his and his readers’ spiritual well-being. Celebration of Discipline is at the heart (both directly or indirectly) of the majority of Spiritual Formation programs in Bible schools, seminaries, Christian colleges, and universities. What the Tibetan holy man said in response to Thomas Merton’s belief—“There must be something wrong here!”—is the same sentiment that propels the writing of this booklet. There is something wrong here!Contrary to what the contemplatives teach, there is duality, and the Bible teaches it—there are the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the tares, the saved and the unsaved, and the righteous and the unrighteous. New Age thinkers would reject this because they believe all is God. In the contemplative camp when Richard Rohr says everything belongs, this is what makes it New Age. The golden calf and Yahweh are not the same God. It was the cause for God’s anger. Simply put, everything does not belong!My prayer is that people can see the logic in this. And what makes it even more imperative is that this contemplative view comes from supernatural sources. We are not dealing with just human perspectives and ideas.Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer employs the same methods as those of Richard Rohr and Thomas Merton that lead to a certain perception. The following quote by Foster further illustrates this:We shut out every other source of stimulation—sensual, intellectual and reflective—in order to focus on God alone. At this level, we even move beyond our thoughts of God in order to dwell in his presence without thought or distraction.34This is exactly the contemplative prayer that Thomas Merton embraced, which led Episcopal priest Brian C. Taylor to say:The God he [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment.35What we conclude is that Thomas Merton’s spirituality has come into the evangelical church through Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer. And this is one school where no Christian should enroll.To order copies of A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer in booklet format, click here.Endnotes: 1. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1978 edition), p. 13. 2. Interview with Richard Foster, Lou Davies Radio Program (KPAM radio, Portland, Oregon, Nov. 24, 1998). 3. Webster’s New World College Dictionary, p. 1283. 4. Carl McColman, Big Book of Christian Mysticism (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Road Publishing, 2010), p. 222. 5. Thomas Merton, The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (New Directions Books, 1975), pp. 234-236. 6. Ibid. 7. William Shannon, Silence on Fire (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1991), p. 99. 8. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (HarperCollins, 2009, Kindle Edition), p. 17. 9. Tony Campolo, Speaking My Mind (Nashville, TN: W. Publishing Group, 2004), p. 72. 10. Rick Warren quoting Kay Warren on the Ministry Toolbox (Issue #54, 6/5/2002, http://web.archive.org/web/20050306004007/http://www.pastors.com/RWMT/?ID=54). 11. Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 2000), pp. 6, 31-32. 12. Thomas Ryan, Disciplines for Christian Living (Mawah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1993), pp. 2-3 (the foreword by Henri Nouwen). 13. Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1991), p. 81. 14. Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1997), Jan. 15 and Nov. 16 daily readings. 15. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 496-497. 16. These two thoughts are found in the writings of Matthew Fox and many other New Age advocates. 17. Robert A. Jonas (Editor), The Essential Henri Nouwen (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, 2009), p. 38. 18. Lighthouse Trails Editors, “More Evidence and a Final Plea as Assemblies of God Conference with Ruth Haley Barton Begins August 5th” (Lighthouse Trails blog: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=12401). 19. Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1994), p. 117. 20. Philip St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality (Crossroad, 1995). This excerpt is in the foreword by Thomas Keating. 21. Thomas Keating, review: http://www.allthingshealing.com/Tarot/Book-Review-Meditations-on-the-Tarot/9699#.VeGxISLbKos. 22. Lighthouse Trails Editors, “Richard Foster’s Renovare Turns to Panentheist Mystic Richard Rohr and Emerging Darling Phyllis Tickle For New Book Project” (September 14, 2010, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4986). 23. Kristen Hobby, “What Happens When Religion Isn’t Doing Its Job: an interview with Richard Rohr, OFM” (Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction, Volume 20, No. 1, March 2014), pp. 6-11. 24. You can read the entire booklet at: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17334 or purchase it as a booklet at www.lighthousetrails.com. 25. Kristen Hobby interview with Richard Rohr, op. cit. , p. 6 26. Ibid. 27. Rich Heffern, “The Eternal Christ in the Cosmic Story” (National Catholic Reporter, December 11, 2009, http://ncronline.org/news/spirituality/eternal-christ-cosmic-story). 28. Ibid. 29. Richard Rohr, Falling Upward (San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, 2011), p. ix. 30. Tom Harpur, Prayer: The Hidden Fire (Wood Lake Publishing, Kindle Edition, 2012), Kindle Locations 1099-1102. 31. Neale Donald Walsch, Tomorrow’s God (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2004), p. 223. 32. Ibid., p. 263. 33. Ibid., p. 241. 34. Richard Foster, Gayle Beede, Longing for God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009), p. 252. 35. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing, 1996), p. 76.To order copies of A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer, click here.Related Article:_______________________________________________________“The Kingdom of God on Earth” Without a KingBY ROGER OAKLANDA cleverly devised plan is underway declaring the Reformation is over. The “Holy Spirit” is supposedly uniting the church for a mighty revival before Jesus returns. Ecumenical madness is spreading like a virus. Few pastors take the time to listen carefully to what the present pope himself is saying. He is all for unity with anyone and everyone who will join with Rome. This is what the Jesuit agenda is all about, to unite all people and all religions under the authority of Rome. And for the first time in history, the Roman Catholic Church has a Jesuit pope! When you consider that the first Jesuits five hundred years ago were commissioned by the pope to do whatever it takes to bring an end to the Reformation and then consider the efforts being made today by the papacy and some Protestants (such as the late Tony Palmer) to end the Reformation, it’s a chilling scenario.The ecumenical wheel has many spokes, but all the spokes lead to the hub. The hub is the Vatican located in Rome with the pope on the throne of “Peter.” From there, the “kingdom of God” will be established. In an article titled, “Pope’s Mass: We’re not Christian Without the Church,” reporting on Pope Francis speaking to a large group assembled for Mass, we read:There is no such thing as a Christian without the Church, a Christian who walks alone, because Jesus inserted himself into the journey of His people: This was Pope Francis’ reflection at Mass this morning in Casa Santa Marta. Beginning with the first reading of the day, Pope Francis said that when they proclaimed Jesus the apostles did not begin with Him, but the history of the people. In fact “Jesus does not make sense without this history” because He “is the end of this story, [the end] towards which this story goes, towards which it walks.”1 (brackets in original)Obviously, with Pope Francis speaking to a group assembled before him as he is presiding over the Mass, when he says “church,” he is talking about the Catholic Church. Anyone who doubts he was addressing the Roman Catholic “faithful,” the following quote will confirm this:Looking forward, the Christian is a man, a woman of hope. And in this, the Christian follows the path of God and renews the covenant with God. He continually says to the Lord: “Yes, I want the commandments, I want your will, I will follow you.” He is a man of the covenant, and we celebrate the covenant, every day in the Mass: thus a Christian is “a woman, a man of the Eucharist.”2Or consider the following information available at the Catholic website Catholicism.org:“Outside the Church there is no salvation” (extra ecclesiam nulla salus) is a doctrine of the Catholic Faith that was taught by Jesus Christ to His Apostles, preached by the Fathers, defined by popes and councils and piously believed by the faithful in every age of the Church. Here is how the Popes defined it:
- “There is but one universal Church of the faithful, outside which no one at all is saved.” (Pope Innocent III, Fourth Lateran Council, 1215.)
- “We declare, say, define, and pronounce that it is absolutely necessary for the salvation of every human creature to be subject to the Roman Pontiff.” (Pope Boniface VIII, the Bull Unam Sanctam, 1302.)
- “The most Holy Roman Church firmly believes, professes and preaches that none of those existing outside the Catholic Church, not only pagans, but also Jews and heretics and schismatics, can have a share in life eternal; but that they will go into the eternal fire which was prepared for the devil and his angels, unless before death they are joined with Her; and that so important is the unity of this ecclesiastical body that only those remaining within this unity can profit by the sacraments of the Church unto salvation, and they alone can receive an eternal recompense for their fasts, their almsgivings, their other works of Christian piety and the duties of a Christian soldier. No one, let his almsgiving be as great as it may, no one, even if he pour out his blood for the Name of Christ, can be saved, unless he remain within the bosom and the unity of the Catholic Church.” (Pope Eugene IV, the Bull Cantate Domino, 1441.)3Who Has the Keys to the Kingdom If you have ever walked around St. Peter’s Square in Rome, you will know there is a statue of Peter before you enter the basilica, illustrating one of the main pillars of the Roman Catholic Church. The statue represents Peter, the disciple Catholics claim was the one Jesus chose to become the first Pope. The claim is that Roman Catholicism is the only true representation of Christianity because its beliefs can be traced back to the appointment of Peter as the successor of Jesus. He was handed the “keys to the Kingdom” by Jesus, they say.In order to trace the origin of this claim, we need to go to the Scriptures and check out if this claim is valid. It is based on the portion of Scripture found in Matthew chapter 16 when Jesus asked the disciples the question who do they say I am?:When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. (Matthew 16: 13-21)While Roman Catholics avidly believe Jesus chose a man to succeed Him to head the Church, that is not what Jesus said. Jesus was responding to the question He had asked and Peter had answered. Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The rock or the foundational belief that Christianity would be based on would not be following a man. The foundation was about knowing who Jesus is and the role He plays in history. This key was the key to the Kingdom of Heaven, not a key to a kingdom established here on Earth by a man even though it might be in the name of Jesus.According to Roman Catholic dogma, the succession of popery throughout the ages has made the claim that salvation can only be dispensed by Rome. From the beginning, at Philippi, Jesus made it clear to the disciples and Peter that in no way should any man be followed and given a title to indicate he is a form of Jesus Christ in the flesh.When Jesus told the disciples what would happen to Him and that He would suffer, die, and be resurrected, Peter refused to believe this vital message which fulfills the Gospel according to the Scriptures: The Bible states: “Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (Matthew 16: 22).Jesus immediately responded to Peter’s heretical claim by saying: “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matthew 16: 23).Therein lies the error that has been passed down through the generations and has impacted not only the Roman Catholic Church but many Protestant pastors and leaders who profess to believe the Gospel of Jesus. It is man that gets between God and man. Men not only misunderstand what Jesus said about the rock or foundation that Christianity should be built upon, men take the position of the Good Shepherd and make the claim that they, and only they, have been given custody over the keys to the kingdom.Kingdom-Now Evangelicals While Rome leads the way with the bold claim that God chose Peter and the succeeding popes to take the title of “Vicar of Christ” and determine what the sheep should or should not believe, other groups believe they have been called to usher in or even prepare and set up the kingdom of God here on Earth without the presence of the King. Often taking the position that Jesus will not actually physically return to rule and reign for a period of one thousand years, this group sees itself as chosen by God to be human vessels for this purpose.Common names for this teaching are: Kingdom Now, Dominion Theology, and Reconstructionism. It is the idea that before Christ can return, the world must be brought together in unity and perfection, and this work will be done by the Christian church. Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven P.E.A.C.E. Plan, Jim Wallis’ social gospel agenda, and Tony Campolo or Brian McLaren’s emergent church are a few of the avenues through which this is being propagated. The goal is to basically eradicate all the world’s ills (e.g., disease, poverty, terrorism, and pollution) and thus, we will have created a “Heaven on Earth” Utopia.While creating such a world sounds very good, it is not what the Bible says is going to happen. Many Scriptures, in both the Old and New Testaments, describe a very different scenario, such as the following:Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. (Matthew 24:9-14)The following list of the some of the erroneous teachings in Kingdom-Now theology illustrate how dangerous this belief system is, yet it has tremendously pervaded the church today:
- Prophetic Scriptures are denied or fulfilled in 70 AD (as is also the belief of preterism).
- The church is the new Israel (replacement theology)
- Armageddon is the ongoing battle between the forces of light and darkness.
- The Antichrist is a spirit, not an actual person.
- We are already in the Tribulation, but at the same time, we are in the Millennium. It doesn’t get any stranger! It’s one or the other.
- Rather than following traditional Bible prophecy, they follow “new revelations.”
- Modern-day prophets must be obeyed and not judged for their inaccuracy.
- They want to restore the Edenic nature even though Eden is where sin began.4This movement has swept the planet, and those who refuse to join hands are considered “colonial,” “militant fundamentalists,” and “narrow-minded crackpots” who are not willing to catch the “new wave” and get on board with the mighty revival that is moving the world toward unity and peace. Many of the leaders in this movement have no problem whatsoever joining with the pope in Rome and the kingdom-of-Earth plans he has for joining together with other religions, including Islam.While some discerning Christians can see how this trend plays a role in light of Bible prophecy, there is a huge portion of Christianity that does not. These are those who are reading books by authors who promote emerging church (or “progressive Christianity”) ideas for the postmodern generation that reject the teachings of the Bible and embrace establishing the kingdom of God on Earth right now. They are willing to join hands with other religions by reinventing Christianity into a “broad-way” spirituality where all are saved and part of God’s Kingdom. No longer do they believe in the “narrow road” to eternity. The kingdom of God is for all religions, they say (and even for those who believe in nothing). Unity, peace, connectedness, and oneness is all that matters, while biblical doctrine is being set aside as irrelevant to the “new reformation” at hand. Obviously, such a view leaves little room for the Cross and the biblical Gospel. And Scriptures such as this one are overlooked:And he [Jesus] went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are. (Luke 13:22-25; emphasis added)Unfortunately, while there may be many pastors, like Rick Warren, who still hold to a personal belief in Jesus Christ as their Savior, the time will come when the path they are now taking may cost them dearly. It is my hope that these leaders might wake up to see what they are doing before it is too late. And let us not forget the countless number of people following these shepherds who may never embrace a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ because of the truths being withheld from them for the sake of “peace” and “unity.”It is also grievous to know that a good number of “Christian” leaders no longer believe (or have never believed) in the Cross as a propitiation for sin but maintain their belief that such a concept is both archaic and barbaric. They hold to the view that Christianity needs to be reinvented for our times. Brian McLaren, who in 2015 represented “Christianity” at the Parliament of the World Religions in Utah, holds to just such a view. In one interview, he said that the idea of God sending His Son to a violent death is “false advertising for God” and he equally rejected the doctrine of Hell as well.5In addition, McLaren has played a significant role in promoting kingdom-now theology as can be seen in his book The Secret Message of Jesus: Uncovering the Truth That Could Change Everything. McLaren, who was once listed by Time Magazine as one of the top 25 most influential persons associated with evangelical Christianity, has sought to upgrade the Christian faith in order to make it relevant for today. He asks a number of questions at the beginning of his book that imply the church has misrepresented Jesus’ core message and promotes the idea that Christians need to be honest with themselves even if that means altering their faith. In this book, he makes the following statement:Sadly, for centuries at a time in too many places to count, the Christian religion has downplayed, misconstrued, or forgotten the secret message of Jesus entirely. Instead of being about the kingdom of God coming to earth, the Christian religion has too often been preoccupied with abandoning or escaping the earth and going to heaven . . . We have betrayed the message that the kingdom of God is available for all, beginning with the least and last and the lost—and have instead believed and taught that the kingdom of God is available for the elite, beginning with the correct and the clean and the powerful.6In McLaren’s 2016 book titled The Great Spiritual Migration: How the World’s Largest Religion is Seeking a Better Way to be Christian, he describes this all-inclusive “kingdom of God” that incorporates “multifaith [i.e., all religions] collaborations.” He states:This kind of collaboration leads to a fresh understanding of what it means to evangelize. I was taught that it meant converting people to the one true religion, namely, my own [Christianity]. Now I believe evangelism means inviting people into heart-to-heart communion and collaboration with God and neighbors in the great work of healing the earth, of building the beloved community, of seeking first the kingdom of God and God’s justice for all. Members of each tradition bring their unique gifts to the table, ready to share and receive, learn and teach, give and take, in a spirit of generosity and vulnerability. Neither my neighbors nor I are obligated or expected to convert. . . . As we work together for the common good, we are all transformed. Those who haven’t experienced this kind of transforming collaboration simply don’t know what they’re missing. . . . Through multifaith collaborations, I have come to see how the language Paul used about one body with many members (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12: 4– 5) applies not only to differing gifts among individual Christians but also to differing gifts among religions.7 (emphasis added)While many evangelicals have now pushed Brian McLaren to the sidelines of evangelical Christianity, others have continued carrying on his message, sometimes in more subtle ways. But as the Bible says, there is nothing new under the sun. Satan’s devices are always in play. His goal is to destroy the message of the Cross, and while he cannot ever actually destroy it, he can cause untold numbers to reject it by offering them substitutes. But we know there is no substitute for the finished work on the Cross by Jesus Christ, who is the only Savior for mankind.What Does This Tell Us? There is a common cliché: if it quacks like a duck, walks like a duck, and has feathers like a duck—it is a duck! In this article, we have touched on three different areas with regard to establishing the kingdom of God on Earth right now without the King. Is this what Jesus intended would happen, or are we being misled by human beings who are following the thoughts of their own imagination or worse yet the inspiration of Satan?While the idea that the kingdom of God is being established here on Earth by human leaders has been around for centuries, we should pay special attention when current events reveal that though the world gets worse and worse, we are being told it is getting better and better. When false religions become part of the kingdom, then clearly, this is not God’s kingdom, but rather it is the kingdom that belongs to the god of this world. Jesus made it very clear there are two kingdoms—one of God and one of this world—when he told Pontius Pilate shortly before He was crucified, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). Jesus also said to Pilate in that same conversation “Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” Ask yourself this, are you hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd, or is it the voice of the god of this world who leads a kingdom that is not of God?Endnotes:
- Pope Francis, “Pope’s Mass: We’re not Christian without the Church” (Rome Reports TV News Agency, May 5, 2015, ).
- “Outside the Church There is No Salvation” (Catholicism.org, “an online journal edited by the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary,” St. Benedict Center, NH, ).
- Taken from “Kingdom-Now Theology” (Lighthouse Trails blog, March 6, 2007, ).
- Interview by Leif Hansen (The Bleeding Purple Podcast) with Brian McLaren, January 8th, 2006); Part 1 ; Part II ).
- Brian McLaren, The Secret Message of Jesus (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2006), pp. 78-79.
- Brian McLaren, The Great Spiritual Migration (New York, NY: Convergent Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, 2016), Kindle location 2768.Roger Oakland is the author of several Lighthouse Trails books, booklets, and lecture DVDs. He is the founder and director of Understand the Times, International and the Bryce Homes for Widows and Children.______________________________________New Booklet: The Enneagram-An Enlightening Tool or an Enticing Deception?BY LOIS PUTNAMNEW BOOKLET: The Enneagram—An Enlightening Tool or an Enticing Deception? by Lois Putnam and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet. The Booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are available. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of The Enneagram—An Enlightening Tool or an Enticing Deception? click here.
The Enneagram—An Enlightening Tool or an Enticing Deception?By Lois Putnam and the Editors at Lighthouse TrailsToday, there is an increasing amount of interest by Christians in the Enneagram, a nine-pointed diagram used to determine personality traits and character tendencies. While it may seem harmless and nothing more than a useful tool, the Enneagram is a seducing lure to deception and an example of what the Bible refers to as “the wiles of the Devil.” In this booklet, we hope to show how this tool is drawing participants away from biblical truth and in an enticing but dangerous direction.A book titled The Wisdom of the Enneagram by Don Riso and Russ Hudson describes the Enneagram, stating:The Enneagram . . . is a development of modern psychology that has roots in spiritual wisdom from many different ancient traditions. 1The Enneagram Institute, a go-to website for information on the Enneagram, says:The Enneagram . . . [is] one of the most powerful and insightful tools for understanding ourselves and others. At its core, the Enneagram helps us to see ourselves at a deeper, more objective level and can be of invaluable assistance on our path to self-knowledge.2A 2017 Religion News Service article states:In 1990, Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr effectively Christianized the [Enneagram] system for Americans when he published “The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective” in English. This sparked a growing interest that slowly crept into church pulpits and small groups. In 2016, Christianity Today published “An Evangelical’s Guide to the Enneagram” after InterVarsity Press became the first evangelical publisher to release a book on the topic.3While the Enneagram’s popularity within the Christian church has continued to grow, especially among millennials, there have been those in the church who have voiced their concerns about the Enneagram. Martin and Deidre Bobgan, who have studied psychology from a biblical perspective for many years, say this about the Enneagram:Although the Enneagram is purported to be an ancient spiritual tradition, it is relatively new to the Western world. George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, who brought the Enneagram to Europe in the 1920s, claimed it originated about 2500 years ago in a Babylonian wisdom school. He taught that each person is born with a “planetary body type” with certain physical and psychological traits. He believed that a person’s physical and psychological characteristics are related to a dominant endocrine gland and to planetary influences on that gland. This implicates the Enneagram with Babylonian astrology, since those characteristics would be signified by a point on the Enneagram.4Apologist and author Mike Oppenheimer says this about the Enneagram:Enneagram claims to be an entry point for deep personal healing and renewal. Enneagram is a psychological and spiritual system for a higher consciousness. We are told it will help us understand the personality types and the differences in each other which should reduce unnecessary conflicts (transforming one into a more tolerant person). We can transform our habits by being our own observer in how we think and go from unconscious behavior to conscious behavior. This is done through a series of probing questions called a Personality Profile questionnaire where one learns what his or her type is. . . . The nine lines comprise a perfect triangle and a twisted hexagon contained within a circle. This is a New Age-type mandala, a mystical gateway to personality classification. The drawing is based upon a belief in the mystical properties of the numbers 7 and 3. 5
Richard Rohr’s RoleAt the very epicenter of today’s Enneagram movement is Franciscan priest Father Richard Rohr, founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC). Rohr’s website states:Seven of the nine Enneagram types are associated with the “capital” or “deadly” sins which originated with the Desert Fathers. But it was not until the late 1960s that Oscar Ichazo began teaching the Enneagram as we know it today. From Ichazo’s school in South America, a group of Jesuits learned the system and brought it back with them to the United States. Richard Rohr learned about the Enneagram from this group and was one of the first people to publish a book about it in English.The Enneagram gained popularity as a tool within spiritual direction.* Today it is widely taught as a way of understanding personality, addiction, relationships, and vocation.6 (emphasis added)After Rohr learned about the Enneagram in the 1970s, he shared his Enneagram teaching on ten tapes, later writing his now classic best-selling book, Discovering the Enneagram: An Ancient Tool for a New Spiritual Journey (now titled The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective).In Rohr’s book, he explains that the underlying premise behind the Enneagram is that each person has a “true self and a “false self,” and with the help of the Enneagram, we can identify our true selves, and thus having identified it, we can now be spiritually transformed to live in that true self. Rohr explains:[Co-author] Andreas Ebert and I again offer the Enneagram as a very ancient Christian tool for the discernment of spirits, the struggle with our capital sin, our “false self,” and the encounter with our True Self in God.7When Rohr, who is an outspoken panentheist, says “True Self in God,” he is referring to his belief that the true self is the God within every human being. In echoing the Catholic mystics Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen, Rohr advocates the concept of dharmakaya. Rohr states:God’s hope for humanity is that one day we will all recognize that the divine dwelling place is all of creation. Christ comes again whenever we see that matter and spirit co-exist. This truly deserves to be called good news.8 (emphasis added)To further understand what Rohr means when he says, “the divine [God] dwelling place is all of creation,” we need to understand his views about Jesus Christ. In an article on Rohr’s website titled, “The Cosmic Christ,” he says that Christ is more of an energy than a personal being:Christ is not Jesus’ last name, but the title of his historical and cosmic purpose. Jesus presents himself as the “Anointed” or Christened One who was human and divine united in one human body—as our model and exemplar. . . . This Christ is much bigger and older than either Jesus of Nazareth or the Christian religion, because the Christ is whenever the material and the divine co-exist—which is always and everywhere. . . . The coming of the Cosmic Christ is not the same as the growth of the Christian religion. It is the unification of all things.9For Rohr, Christ and humanity are not separate because Christ is not a person (or God come in the flesh to save man from his sins) but is an energy that exists in everyone and everything. Man’s only problem isn’t that he is sinful; rather, it is that he doesn’t realize he already has divinity within him. This is where the Enneagram comes in, for according to Rohr the Enneagram is a “key to self-knowledge,”10 and the goal for using the Enneagram is “an awakening of true self-love [i.e., the divinity within].”11
Rohr’s Enneagram DisciplesSome of Richard Rohr’s most popular “disciples” who carry on his Enneagram teachings include Ian Morgan Cron, Suzanne Stabile, and Chris and Phileena Heuertz (though countless others have been influenced by Rohr). Since each of these people has written Enneagram books and are key presenters and teachers of Enneagram programs, let us examine them to further understand the Enneagram.
Ian Morgan Cron’s Road to SelfEpiscopal priest Ian Morgan Cron is a best-selling author and psychotherapist. He wrote the best-selling book (co-authored by Suzanne Stabile), The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery (published by InterVarsity Press). In chapter one, Cron relates how as a grad student, he found Rohr’s Enneagram book at a conservative seminary retreat. Upon showing it to his professor, he was told to get rid of it. Cron confided:I was a young, impressionable evangelical, and though my gut told me my professor’s reaction bordered on paranoid, I followed his advice.12Although, as Cron wrote, he didn’t read the book until later when he was re-introduced to it by his spiritual director, “Br. Dave.” Upon reading it, he tells how he discussed with Br. Dave his initial reactions to the Enneagram. As they talked, Cron shared a Thomas Merton quote with him which read:Sooner or later we must distinguish what we are not and what we are. . . . We must cast off our false, exterior self like the cheap showy garment it is . . . We must find our real self, in all its elemental poverty, but also in its grand and very simple dignity created to be the child of God, and capable of loving with something of God’s own sincerity and his unselfishness.13 (emphasis added)The theme of the “self” permeates Cron’s book. In fact, the word “self” is in his book over 160 times (e.,g., “self-knowledge,” “self-aware,” “real self,” “self-understanding,” “authentic self,” the “original shimmering self,” “true self,” “deep knowing of self,” “self-confident,” “self-actualized,” and so forth). Cron states:[B]y overidentifying who we are with our personality we forget or lose touch with our authentic self—the beautiful essence of who we are . . . we have a God who . . . remembers who we are . . . and he wants to help restore us to our authentic selves.14Here, when Cron equates the “authentic self” (i.e., true self) with “the beautiful essence of who we are,” he echoes Richard Rohr’s belief that within each person is divinity. Contrary to Rohr’s and Cron’s building up of the “true self” as divine and beautiful, the Bible speaks otherwise:Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. (Psalm 51:5)Cron a “champion of the Enneagram,” and “pioneer in the contemporary Enneagram movement” tells us who he is in his “Manifesto.” He begins with:Today I will throw my hat into the ring of life. . . . I will stand on my own two feet and live my truth.15Like so many in today’s post-modern “progressive” Western world, Cron will do his own thing and decide his own beliefs. To the contrary, Scripture reminds us that Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.” A believer in Christ is not called to live his own truth but rather follow the One who says He is “the truth.” At the end of his Manifesto, Cron declares, “Today I will be my True Self.”16 This is the Enneagram’s goal like the book title says, The Road Back to You. Full of I, I, I.
Cron and Rohr InterviewIan Cron hosts an Enneagram podcast titled “Typology. In “Episode 014: Richard Rohr, Finally Getting Over Your ‘Self’ with the Enneagram Pt.1,” Ian interviews Richard Rohr. He asks Rohr what has caused the “tidal wave of interest culturally and in church of personality identity”17 using the Enneagram. Rohr says its because we’ve done such a bad job of teaching Christians their “true identity.” We didn’t, he espouses, teach people about their images and their likeness of God. Rohr says most Christians find their identity in their group or denomination and never understand who they themselves are.The crux of the interview is when Rohr asserts we don’t know our individual “Imago Dei” which cannot be given to us or taken away from us. This idea levels the “playing field of all humanity”18 says Rohr. Distinctions such as black and white, Catholic and Protestant, American and Canadian, or gay and straight do not mean anything. Rohr says that the “true gospel must be proclaimed that everything—humans, animals, or materials—is created in the image of a trinitarian and loving God.”19 Therefore, says Rohr, that settles all questions. For then we are all “universal children of God,”20 and thus, we are in “union” with all other children of God. Why? Rohr says it is because we all have the divine and the beautiful in us from the very start.How contrary to the biblical Gospel that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and that in order to become a child of God, we must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. In Enneagramism, it’s not about sinners (“none that doeth good”—Romans 3:12) needing to be redeemed by a Holy God. There is no need for that. Rather, after working through our false self-delusions to find our true selves, we come to the realization that we have always been lovely and good. Ian Morgan Cron’s view of the self stands in stark contrast to the apostle Paul’s description when he says he has “no confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:3).
Suzanne StabileSuzanne Stabile, Cron’s co-author of the book The Road Back to You, is an internationally recognized Enneagram master, teacher, and author. Like Cron, Stabile is a great admirer of Richard Rohr and one of Rohr’s Enneagram disciples. After meeting Rohr, Stabile was so enamored with Rohr’s Enneagram program that she studied under him, consenting not to teach or share the material for five years.At present, Stabile has conducted over 500 Enneagram workshops over the past 25 years, speaking to audiences at colleges, divinity schools, churches, and health centers. She has also taught at the Center for Action and Contemplation (Rohr’s contemplative center) and even internationally at Assisi with Rohr himself.In a 2016 Houston Chronicle article titled, “Christians Rediscovering Ancient Enneagram,” Emily McFarlan Miller said she met Cron and Stabile at a Chicago Enneagram conference. Miller noted that Cron “thought the Enneagram was ‘genius,’ and saw nothing in it that conflicted with the gospel.”21 She wrote that Cron found it fascinating that even “the (conservative) evangelicals were completely fine with it.”22 Miller said that Stabile hoped that “teaching people to learn about the way they see the world and eight other ways people see the world will encourage compassion.”23 Stabile told Miller, “Our hope is that the book makes the world a more compassionate, more loving, and more generous place.”24 And this is the promise of the Enneagram, to make people (and the world) more compassionate, generous, and loving. The premise is, if we can somehow gain access to understanding our True Selves (i.e., the divine part of us), then we will become compassionate and loving individuals thus making the world a better place. But can the Enneagram accomplish this? If the premise is correct, then perhaps so. But according to the Holy Word of God, the premise of the Enneagram couldn’t be further from the truth.
Chris HeuertzChris Heuertz is another Rohr mentee and Enneagram enthusiast. Heuertz came from a Catholic family that converted to evangelicalism. His parents had six children. An article written by Jason Byassee titled “On the Side of Hope” describes how Heuertz’ parents worked seven jobs at one time just to send the children to private schools. Heuertz graduated from an Assembly of God high school and went on to Asbury College (now Asbury University).In his book The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth, Heuertz states that the Enneagram is a tool for “excavating our essence, our True Self, from the lies, programs, and temptations we’ve wrapped around our identity.”25 (emphasis in original)Soon after graduation from Asbury, Heuertz joined Word Made Flesh ministry to work with “the most vulnerable of the world’s poor.”26 This was how he landed in Calcutta, India working with Mother Teresa. Here he was later joined by his wife Phileena. Of the WMF organization, Jason Byassee wrote:Rejecting the idea that missionaries bring salvation and services to benighted poor people, WMF has learned . . . that the poor are Jesus. WMF or ‘Fleshies’ . . . do not necessarily seek to fix poverty or convert people. Their first intention is to seek friendship with the poor. And through that they seek, with their friends, to be converted anew to God.27Speaking of the “model of missions,” Heuertz states:If I bring anything, it’s presence and hope . . . We work to recognize the divine imprint in all humanity, then together we are all converted to God. I’m not bringing a poor kid with me to Christ. I’m following their journey to the places in God’s heart that break in the face of such suffering.28 (emphasis added)The Heuertz’ social justice work with WMF took them to Cambodia where Heuertz encountered the Enneagram. Fascinated, Heuertz later would delve deeply into the Enneagram, abandon his WMF community, establish the Gravity Center, and write The Sacred Enneagram(which we will talk about a little later in this booklet).
Phileena HeuertzPhileena Bacon Heuertz was two years behind Chris at Asbury College. Phileena came from an evangelical family, her father being a Wesleyan Methodist pastor in Indiana. While working with WMF, the Heuertzes began their contemplative journey upon meeting Catholic contemplative priest Thomas Keating of Snowmass, Colorado. From him, they learned centering prayer (a form of contemplative prayer). The more they dipped into this contemplative path, the further they separated from their evangelical backgrounds. Eventually, in 2012, they left the WMF to establish the Gravity Center for Contemplative Activism.Throwing aside her evangelical Wesleyan past, Phileena converted to Catholicism for she believed its rituals, liturgy, and prayer practices would best enhance her “inner work” to shed her false self and find her true self.29Along the way, the couple met Richard Rohr, imbibed deeply from his teaching, and locked arms with him. Today, Phileena is on Rohr’s CAC board. Rohr, in turn, wrote the foreword to Phileena’s 2018 book Mindful Silence: The Heart of Christian Contemplation. Phileena is considered one of the top young contemplative prayer activists today. She is a retreat guide, a spiritual director, and a Yoga instructor and has spoken at numerous Christian universities including Biola University and Taylor University.
The Sacred EnneagramIn 2017, Chris Heuertz wrote what became a best-selling book, The Sacred Enneagram (published by Zondervan). In the foreword, written by Richard Rohr, Rohr writes:Chris Heuertz, my dear friend and confidante, has gone on his own journey of transformation, I am most happy to recommend his excellent book on the Enneagram to you. In its pages you will find excellent content, many new insights, and the compassion that genuine spirituality always provides . . . You will not be the same after you read this book.30Rohr is also an integral part of the Heuertz’ Gravity Center, serving as a founding board member much like Phileena serves on his CAC board. In two chapters of Heuertz’ book, he unlocks his agenda for the reader to couple the Enneagram to contemplative practices to achieve finding one’s true self.
A Sacred Map?Throughout the book, Heuertz uses terms such as “sacred experience,” “sacred Enneagram,” and “sacred map.” He says:When we give ourselves to the hard work of integrating what we have come to learn about ourselves, the Enneagram becomesa sacred map of our soul, one that shows us the places where we have vulnerabilities or tendencies to get stuck as well as the possibilities of where we can go for deeper freedom and inner peace.31 (emphasis added)Here we can see that Heuertz has exchanged what gives true freedom and peace for a powerless substitute—the Enneagram! There is only one true “sacred map,” and that is the Word of God.For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)We do not find freedom and peace by identifying our “personality types” and discovering our “true selves.” The fact is, our true selves are our sinful, fleshly, carnal selves. It is only found in the person of Jesus Christ, who promises to come into our hearts and commune with us if we invite Him in and put our trust in Him (Revelation 3:20). Our Father in Heaven promises to deliver us from the kingdom of darkness (our fleshly carnal selves) into the kingdom of Light (through being born again into Christ).[God] hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14)The Enneagramites have missed the mark bigtime. They see the key to an abundant meaningful life lying in ourselves when in fact, it is quite the opposite as John the Baptist said when he proclaimed, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Jesus said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63). Paul, the apostle, said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18). How interesting (and sad) that Chris Heuertz uses the term “Fleshie” to describe himself. Fleshies put the emphasis on how good their true selves are. “Believers” put the emphasis on believing in the finished work of the Cross (how good Jesus Christ is).
The Inclusive KingdomChris Heuertz’ book, The Sacred Enneagram, uses The Inclusive Bible (authored by “Priests for Equality”) for all its Scripture quotations. Billed as the first egalitarian translation, a blurb on Amazon says:. . . it is a re-imagining of the scriptures and our relationship to them. . . . [offering] new and non-sexist ways to express the same ancient truths. . . . Priests for Equality is a movement of men and women . . . where sexism and exclusion are left behind.32Leaving “exclusion” behind is another way to reject the Bible’s message that says the kingdom of God is exclusive to “whosoever” believes on Jesus Christ as their Savior. This is the opposite of “inclusive,” which is the teaching of universalism (all are saved) and interspirituality (all paths lead to God). This inclusivism is what the New Age is all about.
The True SelfIn Heuertz’ The Sacred Enneagram, the term “True Self” (capitalized to show the supposed divine attribute) is used over sixty times such as in the following quote:The Enneagram offers much more under the surface. Its various facets—the names and needs, the Holy Ideas and Virtues—give us practical handles to better identify and understand our type. By digging deeper into the why behind each type we start to unravel the mystery of our True Self and essential nature. This is the real substance we aim for.33 (emphasis added)Again, in Scripture, there is nothing good about our “essential nature.” The late Ray Yungen, who studied the New Age for many years, explains:The New Age and Christianity definitely clash on the answer to the question of human imperfection. The former—the New Age—espouses the doctrine of becoming self-realized and united with the universe, which they see as God but in reality is the realm of familiar spirits. On the other hand, the Gospel that Christians embrace offers salvation to humanity through grace (unmerited favor). Romans 3:24 boldly states: “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”This gift is not earned or given as a reward for earnest or good intentions as Scripture clearly states: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
This Scripture that tackles the issue of pride sharply distinguishes all of man’s religions from Christianity. Religion persuades us that man is innately good and, therefore, can earn his way to Heaven through human perfectibility or, better yet, through the realization of his own divinity. Christianity emphatically states the opposite view that man needs to humbly recognize his own sinfulness and fallibility, and consequently needs salvation through grace.
The Holy Spirit, through the Scripture, convicts the sinner of his sinful and lost condition and then presents God’s solution—salvation through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the Cross (Ephesians 1:7 and Romans 10:9-10).It all comes down to the preaching of the higher self [i.e., “True Self”] versus the preaching of the Cross.34
Essential Virtue and PurityThroughout The Sacred Enneagram, there are over one hundred diagrams of Enneacircles and Enneacharts. One of these (on page 108) is titled “Virtue Structure.” Of this chart, Heuertz writes:I . . . emphasize Virtue because when we do return to our essence [i.e., True Self] . . . Our Virtue is the lingering fragrance of our essential purity; it is what makes each of us beautiful. . . . Of course, returning to our Virtue is familiar, like a homecoming, because it is who we have always been.35 (emphasis added)God loves humanity. It is why He sent His Son to die on a Cross so that any person who believes on Him would be reconciled to God. And God does value us (He would never have sacrificed His Son to save us if He didn’t). But He does not love us or value us because we are pure or holy or virtuous; rather, He loves us and values us in spite of the fact we are not those things. He loves us because His very nature is love, forgiveness, and holiness; and no matter how much we learn about “ourselves,” we can never come close to matching the nature of God (although He does promise the born-again believer that we can be partakers of His nature—2 Peter 1:4. But being a “partaker” is not the same as owning it yourself. It is someone else’s, and you are given access to partake in and benefit from it).You see, the Enneagram is the very antithesis of the Gospel. With the Enneagram, man is glorified; with the Gospel, God is glorified. And if we love God, how can we not desire to glorify Him who alone has done so many incredible and awesome things and will continue to throughout eternity. How can we, who cannot even create a speck of dust, glorify ourselves and not our Creator? Isaiah 42:8 says, “I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.”
Contemplative Prayer and the EnneagramIt is important to note that the majority of those who teach the Enneagram are proponents of contemplative prayer. In chapter ten of The Sacred Enneagram, “An Invitation to Inner Work,” Heuertz introduces the reader to three prayers that can be used “as an on-ramp to the . . . Christian contemplative tradition.”36 Introduced first is centering prayer: “Praying with the Feeling Center.” Of its relationship to the Enneagram, Heuertz states:Centering prayer. . . is easily aligned with each specific Enneagram type, but even more so, it may be among the most effective in confronting the root additions of each of the Enneagram’s Intelligence Centers.37Second is St. Ignatius of Loyola’s “The Examen: Praying with the Head Center.”38 Last is, “The Welcoming Prayer: Praying with the Instinctive Body Center” whose creator was Mary Mrozowski. Mrozowski was a Catholic mystic and lay contemplative who in 1983 attended the first ever “Centering Prayer” retreat experiment at the Lama Foundation in New Mexico.** It was she who helped found the Contemplative Outreach Ltd. She was also founder of the Chrysalis House which became “an incubator” of contemplative prayer practices, especially centering prayer.39 She was close to and encouraged by the late Thomas Keating.In Phileena Heuertz’ book Mindful Silence, she explains how “incredibly helpful” the Enneagram is for “spiritual development.”40 She assures her readers that using the Enneagram is a crucial part of “expanding consciousness.”41 She says:The Enneagram is a powerful resource for the contemplative path, for as it deconstructs the false self, it simultaneously reveals your true self.42“Waking Up,” the last chapter, describes Phileena’s ongoing search “to live into your divine nature”43 as she took time for a hermitage at the Lama Foundation.*In the foreword of Mindful Silence, Richard Rohr praises how quickly “contemplative teaching is occurring in our time.” He then says that “we are building on the Perennial Tradition.” Rohr describes what he means by “Perennial Tradition” in a 2015 article on his website:The things I teach come from a combination of inner and outer authority, drawn from personal experience and a long lineage of the “perennial tradition” . . . The Perennial Tradition points to recurring themes and truths within all of the world’s religions.44 (emphasis added)The Perennial Tradition (or Perennial Wisdom as it is also called) is the belief that all the different religions in the world are interconnected through metaphysics (mysticism). The fact that the “father” of today’s Enneagram movement (Rohr) promotes the Perennial Tradition in a book written by one of his foremost disciples—openly welcomed in mainstream evangelicalism—should not be overlooked or dismissed as irrelevant; nor should the Enneagram’s compatibility and connection with contemplative prayer and mysticism.
Christian Leaders Promoting the EnneagramWith the growing popularity of the Enneagram in the evangelical church, many well-known Christian leaders are coming out in favor of it. One of these is Mark Batterson, the senior pastor of a mega church in Washington, DC. and the author of the New York Times best-selling book, The Circle Maker: Praying Circles Around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears. Lighthouse Trails released a booklet in 2017 titled Circle Making and “Prayer Circles” Versus The Straight Line of Truth, which addresses Batterson’s teaching on “circle making,” a practice he popularized inspired from rituals of an ancient mystic name Honi. Our 2017 booklet states:[Batterson convinces] people that if certain rituals or methods are performed, then things can be changed. In his 2017 book Whisper: How to Hear God’s Voice, Batterson continues with this mystical focus (i.e., contemplative spirituality). In one section, he gives a lesson on Lectio Divina, a practice that involves taking a word or phrase from Scripture and repeating it slowly, which is said to facilitate hearing God’s voice (in reality, Lectio Divina is a gateway practice to full-blown eastern-style meditation).45Knowing Mark Batterson’s mystical propensities, we were not surprised to learn that Batterson had endorsed Ian Morgan Cron’s 2016 book on the Enneagram, The Road Back to You. Of Cron’s book, Batterson states:Ian Morgan Cron, partnering with Suzanne Stabile, has gifted us with another timely and brilliantly written book. We’ve long needed a fresh, spiritually grounded approach to helping people grow in self-knowledge and compassion. This is a winsome and thoughtful primer!46On a podcast called Typology, hosted by Ian Cron, Cron interviewed Batterson on October 24, 2019. The show’s title was “The Blessings of the Enneagram” where Batterson talked about he and his wife’s “journey” with the Enneagram.47Numerous other evangelical leaders are rallying behind the Enneagram as well. New York Times best-selling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries Lysa TerKeurst was on Cron’s podcast in June of 2019 talking about how much the Enneagram means to her.48 Other evangelical figures who promote the Enneagram are William P. Young (author of The Shack), Michael Hyatt (former CEO of Thomas Nelson publishers), Aaron and Shawna Niequist (Shawna is Willow Creek’s Bill Hybels’ daughter), and Anita Lustrea (co-hosted Moody Radio’s Midday Connection program for 15 years).
The Enneagram or The Word of God?The Enneagram focuses endlessly on the self through self-awareness, self-observation, self-motivation, self-knowledge, self-love, self-wound, self-this, and self-that. For as 2 Timothy 3:2 states, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves.” Through the “Sacred Enneagram,” it is said we’ll discover that underneath all our failures of our false selves, we’ll uncover our essence—that true self enabling us to make our world a better and more compassionate place.On the other hand, God’s view of our “selves” is that at our core, we are sinners as Romans 3:23 declares, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Therefore, we need to believe not in the power of the Enneagram or the voice heard in contemplative prayer but in a Savior who can save us from ourselves and our sins. Scripture says:For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8,9; emphasis added)In the end, it is through the Word of God and the sacrifice on the Cross by Jesus Christ, not the Enneagram, where we can find out who we are and what we must do. In 1 Corinthians 2:5, Paul tells us:That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.And as Proverbs 9:10 reminds us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom . . .” not the Enneagram! We pray that this enticing tool of deception will be rejected by Christian believers, pastors, and leaders.Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)To order copies of The Enneagram—An Enlightening Tool or an Enticing Deception? click here.*Spiritual direction or spiritual directors are terms used in the contemplative prayer movement (i.e., Spiritual Formation movement). Contemplative spirituality is an ancient mystical prayer practice in which the participant goes into what is called “the silence” by repeating a word or phrase so that the mind is no longer distracted with thoughts. In this altered silent state, one can supposedly hear the voice of God and be spiritually transformed. Spiritual directors are utilized to help the contemplative meditator “discern” the voice and messages received during meditation. Rohr’s statement above reveals to us that the Enneagram and contemplative prayer (both based on mysticism) are very compatible with each other.**The Lama Foundation is tied to a well-known spiritual teacher and New Age Hindu guru Ram Dass who wrote Be Here Now.Endnotes:
- Russ Hudson, The Wisdom of the Enneagram (New York, NY: Bantam, 1999, online edition: https://www.worldcat.org/wcpa/servlet/DCARead?standardNo=0553378201&standardNoType=1&excerpt=true).
- Jonathan Merritt, “What is the ‘Enneagram,’ and Why are Christians Suddenly So Enamored by It …” (Religion News Service, September 5, 2017, https://religionnews.com/2017/09/05/what-is-the-enneagram-and-why-are-christians-suddenly-so-enamored-by-it/).
- Martin and Deidre Bobgan, “The Enneagram versus Christianity Today (PsychoHeresy Awareness Letter, May-June 2017, Vol. 25, No.3, http://www.psychoheresy-aware.org/enneagram.html).
- Mike Oppenheimer, “The Power of Personality” (http://www.letusreason.org/Current42.htm).
- “The Enneagram: An Introduction” (https://cac.org/the-enneagram-an-introduction/).
- Richard Rohr and Andreas Ebert, Discovering the Enneagram: An Ancient Tool for a New Spiritual Journey (now titled The Enneagram: A Christian Perspective) (Chestnut Ridge, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 2016 Kindle edition), Kindle location 239.
- Rich Heffern, “The Eternal Christ in the Cosmic Story” (National Catholic Reporter, December 11, 2009), quoting Richard Rohr.
- Richard Rohr, “The Cosmic Christ” (https://cac.org/the-cosmic-christ-2015-11-05/).
- Rohr/Ebert, The Enneagram, op. cit., Kindle location 5200, p. 228.
- Ibid., Kindle location 5760, p. 256.
- Ian Morgan Cron, The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, Kindle edition, 2016), Kindle location 124, p.14.
- Ibid., Kindle location 182, p.18.
- Ibid., Kindle location 260-268, p. 23.
- Emily McFarlan Miller, “Christians Rediscovering Ancient Enneagram” (Houston Chronicle, October 8, 2016; ).
- Chris Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram: Finding Your Unique Path to Spiritual Growth (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2017), p. 193.
- Jason Byassee,“On the Side of Hope” (https://faithandleadership.com/side-hope).
- Chris Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram, op. cit., Foreword.
- Ibid., p. 32.
- “Priests for Equality,” The Inclusive Bible (UK: Rowman & Littlefield, Publisher, 2007), description on Amazon.
- Chris Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram, op. cit., p. 39.
- Ray Yungen, “The Difference Between the Cross and the “Higher Self” (https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=16339).
- Chris Heuertz, The Sacred Enneagram, op. cit., pp. 108-109.
- Ibid., p. 227.
- Ibid., pp. 228-229.
- Ibid., pp. 229-231.
- “In Memory of Mary Mrozowski”
- Phileena Heuertz, Mindful Silence: The Heart of Christian Contemplation (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2018), p. 23.
- Ibid., p. 174.
- Richard Rohr, “The Perennial Tradition” (December 20, 2015, https://cac.org/the-perennial-tradition-2015-12-20/).
- Cedric Fisher and Nanci Des Gerlaise, The Circle Maker (https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=27394).
- Inside front cover of Road Back to You, endorsement by Mark Batterson.
- https://www.typologypodcast.com/podcast/2019/27/06/episode02-048/lysaterkeurst.To order copies of The Enneagram—An Enlightening Tool or an Enticing Deception? click here.