LTRP Note: The following is an extract from Warren B. Smith’s booklet The Big Picture: How the World and the Church Are Being Deceived: Ten Spiritual Devices.
By Warren B. Smith
Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11)
Many years ago, I was recruited into the New Age movement to help implement its deceptive peace plan. The same devices used to deceive me into accepting its teachings are the same devices being used today to deceive the world—and the church. These devices are preparing everyone for a seemingly “wonderful” peace plan that is being euphemistically described as God’s Dream for the world. The following are ten of these deceptive spiritual devices.
How the World and the Church are Being Deceived: Ten Spiritual Devices
1) Putting Unwarranted Trust in PeopleMy involvement in the New Age was not initiated by an interest in spirituality but by my interest in a waitress in a local downtown restaurant. One day, she mentioned that a friend of a friend of hers was a psychic and was coming to town to do some psychic readings. She asked if I would be interested in seeing this woman and getting a reading. Wanting to demonstrate my being open to spiritual things, and hoping to gain her favor, I agreed to see the psychic. Had it not been for my friend’s endorsement of this questionable practice, I would never have consented to have the reading. However, my natural suspicion of psychics was overridden by her making it seem so normal. Later as a new Christian, I read in the Bible how spiritually dangerous it is to be involved with psychics, We are not to give any regard to those who consult with familiar spirits (Leviticus 19:31). Psychics and things like Ouija Boards, Tarot Cards, meditation, Yoga, and countless other occult practices can unwittingly open doors to a deceptive and evil spirit world.
This same device of putting unwarranted trust in people rather than the Word of God can also be seen in the church today. Just because a friend or relative has been a Christian for years, doesn’t mean that their endorsement of a particular pastor, teacher, book, or spiritual practice should be accepted without any questions. The Bible warns us not to put undue trust in a friend or a guide. Rather, we are to “try the spirits (1 John 4:1) and rightly divide the Word of God regarding whatever we are reading, experiencing, or being told (2 Timothy 2:15). Like the Bereans, we are to search the Scriptures daily to see if these things are really so (Acts 17:11). Trusting other people and not the Word of God is one of Satan’s many deceptive devices.
Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide. (Micah 7:5)
2) Putting Unwarranted Trust in Spiritual ExperiencesDuring my spiritual reading with the psychic, she revealed many things about me that she had no way of knowing. This made her more credible in my eyes and she gained my immediate respect and definite attention. Toward the end of the reading, I felt an intense whirling sensation over my head that vibrated and tingled and felt very strange. I had never experienced anything quite like it. Without my saying anything to her, the psychic said—“Are you aware there is a ball of light over your head right now?” She proceeded to tell me that the ball of light was there because I had “a lot of help from the other side.” When I asked her what the “other side” was, she told me angels, loved ones who had passed on, and other spirits who were interested in my spiritual well-being. She said if I wanted their help in my spiritual life, I had to ask and give them permission to come into my life.
So that night I prayed—“You on the other side, please come into my life. I want to be more spiritual. I want to grow.” In my naivete, what I actually prayed was a reverse sinner’s prayer that was completely contrary to God’s ways. By doing this, I had unwittingly opened a door to the evil spirit world. When I came to the Lord and gained a better understanding of the Bible, I realized the ball of light that appeared in my psychic reading was not good and was not from God. It was obviously a deceptive spirit that came as an angel of light. It was sent to make me feel special and to convince me that I had a lot of spiritual help on “the other side.” And the psychic told me that part of that help might come from “loved ones” who had passed on. This alleged communication with the dead was very common in the New Age, but it is not usually found in the church.
However, Steve Berger, founding pastor of Grace Chapel in Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, claims that he and his wife have had ongoing visitations and conversations with their deceased son Josiah. In his book Have Heart: Bridging the Gulf Between Heaven and Earth, Berger describes some of the conversations they believe they have had with their son. Endorsements by mega-church pastor Greg Laurie, televangelist James Robison, and others listed in the front of Berger’s book seem to give legitimacy to what Berger is teaching—just as the waitress seemed to give legitimacy to my seeing a psychic. But, again, we are not to put unquestioned trust in people rather than the Word of God.
The Bible is very clear that we are not to communicate with the dead. This is the stuff of séances, channelings, spiritist readings, and the occult/New Age. Deuteronomy 18:9-11 forbids communicating with the dead and calls it necromancy. Certain pastors may have solid reputations as teachers and evangelists, but they are seriously wrong to present this kind of teaching to the church. The evil spirit world is only too willing to counterfeit our loved ones through spiritual experiences that play upon our human emotions and our love of family. Providing deceptive spiritual experiences that can open doors to the spirit world is one of Satan’s chief devices.
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. (1 Timothy 4:1)
3) Seemingly “Meant-To-Be” Circumstances That Appear to be From GodLater that same year, I took a girlfriend to Big Sur for a special New Year’s Eve. This rugged California coastal area seemed to be a great way to continue my spiritual pursuits and start the year. Checking into the majestic Nepenthe Bookstore, I was immediately drawn to a book titled Journey Toward the Heart by an Indian master I had never heard of before. His name was Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.
After a series of incredible, seemingly meant-to-be circumstances that arose immediately after purchasing the book by Rajneesh, we serendipitously landed in a mountaintop cabin with nothing but clouds below us and, incredibly, another book by Rajneesh—Only One Sky—sitting on the bedside table. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh—a man I had never heard of before purchasing his other book an hour previous. Everything seemed to be benevolently conspiring to introduce me to this Indian guru. It all seemed so meant-to-be. But the question I never thought to ask was, meant-to-be by whom?
Many pastors, church leaders, and plain everyday folks are fond of saying: “It’s no accident.” “There is a reason for everything.” “It was meant-to-be.” The inference is that whatever they experienced was good and must have been divinely orchestrated by God. Rarely, if ever, does anyone even hint at the possibility of spiritual deception. But many of today’s spiritual experiences are not from God. It may seem to be God or Jesus or the Holy Spirit when it is not. Thus, whatever one is experiencing or being told needs to be tested, prayed about, and rightly divided by the Word of God. And while God can also orchestrate spiritual experiences, the church should always be on the lookout for contrived meant-to-be circumstances arranged by our Spiritual Adversary. These deceptive, seemingly meant-to-be experiences from God are yet another one of Satan’s clever devices.
These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. (1 John 2:26)
4) The New Age Doctrine of “Oneness”In 1980, New Age teacher Marilyn Ferguson’s book The Aquarian Conspiracy was published and became an instant cult classic. In her book that is often regarded as a New Age “Bible,” Ferguson wrote somewhat playfully, with tongue-in-cheek, that a growing number of New Age “conspirators” had “a great heretical idea”1— the notion of “God within”—that God was “in” everyone and everything. As I fell deeper and deeper under the spiritual spell of Rajneesh and my other New Age teachers, this God “in” everyone and everything concept of Oneness seemed so simple and true, and felt so right to my misguided heart.
In a booklet titled Be Still and Know That You Are Not God: God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything,2 I showed how this New Age teaching of God “in” everyone and everything is not only in the world but also in the church. It isn’t just New Age leaders who are proclaiming it—I described how church leaders including Rick Warren, Eugene Peterson, Leonard Sweet, Sara Young, Pope Francis, and William P. Young—among others—have brought this God-“in”-everything teaching into the church.
The Bible says that all of humanity is one blood (Acts 17:26) because we all have an original set of parents—Adam and Eve. But Jesus said what “is born of the flesh is flesh” and what “is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). That is why He then said to “Marvel not” that we “must be born again” (John 3:7). The Bible makes it clear that God and Christ are not inherently “in” everyone and everything. It is only when we believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior and are born again that His Holy Spirit is sent to dwell within us and that we become one in Him. Christ is not in everyone, but we are one in Christ when we believe in Him and are born again—“for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
The New Age “Doctrine of Oneness” that says God is “in” everyone and everything is a lie. It is, perhaps, Satan’s chief device to deceive the world and the church. As seen with His response to the Tower of Babel, God demonstrated that He is definitely not into worldly oneness:
And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. (Genesis 11:6-8)
5) The New Age Doctrine of SeparationWhile attending a massage program at the Sacramento Holistic Health Institute, one of my New Age classmates gave me a book titled Love is Letting Go of Fear by a psychiatrist named Gerald Jampolsky. This little self-help manual was very engaging as he talked of love, hope, faith, gratitude, and forgiveness in a decidedly unique and spiritual way. The author said his book had been greatly inspired by a set of books called A Course in Miracles. I immediately purchased The Course at a local New Age bookstore. I was surprised to see that the books were said to be channeled by “Jesus” to a Columbia Presbyterian Hospital psychologist in New York City named Helen Schucman. Not knowing the Bible, I read and accepted much of what this alleged “Jesus” said and taught. I had no idea that mingled with lofty statements about God and love and the Holy Spirit, this false Christ “Jesus” turned the actual teachings of the Bible inside out and upside down. Emphasizing the word “separation,” he taught, “The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself. There is no separation of God and His creation.”3 Emphasizing the word “oneness,” he stated that “The oneness of the Creator and the creation is your wholeness, your sanity and your limitless power.”4 This counterfeit “Jesus” denigrated the true Christ’s victory on the Cross of Calvary by teaching that “The journey to the cross should be the last ‘useless journey’”5 and that “a slain Christ has no meaning.”6 These teachings reiterated what I had already been learning from Rajneesh and my other New Age teachers—we don’t need an external Savior because we can save ourselves by recognizing that we are all one because God is “in” everyone and everything.
In her book The Revelation, New Age author and futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard quotes the New Age Christ stating that those who oppose the idea of oneness with God are under the “illusion of separation.”7 In A Course in Miracles, the false New Age Christ states, “The mind can make the belief in separation very real and very fearful, and this belief is the ‘devil.’”8 He further states that those who are under the illusion of separation are “dreaming” and need to be “gently awakened” from their hapless dream of “separateness” by God’s “happy dream” of Oneness.9
There is something that should be of great concern to those keeping an eye on how this concept of separation might be coming into the church: On the fifth episode of his TBN television series Restoring the Shack, William P. Young, citing God as his source, stated that the “lie of separation” has prevented the church from being unified, whole, and one.10 That Young would introduce the New Age Doctrine of Separation is not surprising if you read The Shack carefully. The Shack’s “Jesus” openly teaches New Age “Oneness” when Young has him affirm that God is “in” everyone and everything. The Shack’s “Jesus” states, “God who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things.”11 In Jesus Calling, Sarah Young’s “Jesus” also teaches this same New Age Oneness when he declares—“I am above all, as well as in all.”12
A more detailed description of this Oneness vs. Separation heresy is carefully documented in my book False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care? and in my booklet titled Oneness vs. Separation Heresy Now in the Church.13 The New Age Doctrine of Separation disparages and denigrates those who refuse to subscribe to the Doctrine of Oneness. God is, in fact, separate from His creation. He is not in everyone and everything. But Satan’s twisted New Age take on separation has been—and will continue to be—one of his main devices. Using the word separation scripturally and properly, the Bible tells us to “be ye separate” from the world and from worldly New Age doctrines like the Doctrine of Oneness versus Separation.
Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate. (2 Corinthians 6:17)
6) God’s DreamThe term “God’s Dream” has become almost commonplace in the world—and the church. “God’s Dream” is now the subject of numerous Christian books, booklets, sermons, songs, and radio shows. But most people using the term “God’s Dream” don’t realize it is a deceptive New Age term that was introduced over a hundred years ago in a 1916 Theosophical Path New Age magazine article.14 As previously mentioned, the term “God’s Dream” is a crucial New Age concept intimately linked to the New Age peace plan. It is at the heart of everything taught in A Course in Miracles by the New Age “Jesus.” The term “God’s Dream” has been used by the false Christ Maitreya who claims to already be here on Earth waiting for humanity to call him forth. It has been used by New Age channeler and best-selling Conversations with God author Neale Donald Walsch who claims to speak for God. It has been used and publicly promoted by New Age sympathizer Oprah Winfrey. All these references and many others are documented in my booklet God’s Dream: Satan’s Ultimate Scheme.15
The New Age term, “God’s Dream,” is also used by a wide variety of pastors, authors, church leaders, and worship leaders. “God’s Dream” was first introduced into the church by the late Crystal Cathedral pastor Robert Schuller in his 1974 book Your Church Has Real Possibilities.16 It was then exponentially popularized by Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren. It is now commonly used by a wide array of church figures that include Bethel Church pastor Bill Johnson, Shack author William P. Young, Kenneth Copeland, Brian McLaren, Pope Francis, Joel Osteen, Sarah Young, Leonard Sweet, Mark Batterson, Joyce Meyer, Ravi Zacharias, and countless others. Most of them probably have no idea of its New Age origin and how “God’s Dream” is a strategic part of Satan’s New Age peace plan. Curiously, Rick Warren has introduced his own formal P.E.A.C.E. Plan that he has actually titled—“God’s Dream for You and the World.” Over the last several years he has been pushing “God’s Dream” heavily in his sermons and on his radio program—even writing a booklet titled God’s Dream For Your Life. But “God’s Dream” is a false overlapping New Age concept that has now made its way deep into the church. Thanks to Robert Schuller and Rick Warren, the concept of “God’s Dream” has become so widely popularized in church circles that church references now far outweigh the New Age references that once preceded them. “God’s Dream” is one of Satan’s most cunning devices.
Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:32)
7) Not Testing the SpiritsWith Rajneesh, the psychics, and channelers I spent time with, the workshops I went to, and all the New Age books I read—meditation and contemplative prayer were almost always stressed. Being still was supposed to help us attain personal peace and well-being and to hear from God—or what was often called the “Universe” or the “Source.” It was through these meditative and contemplative practices that so many heretical teachings have been delivered into the world by seducing spirits—much of it described as “new revelation.”
Today, there is increased pressure for people in the church to hear the voices of God and Jesus. And while countless books have been written on “how to hear the voice of God or Jesus,” it is hard to find even one that talks about proving the authenticity of who and what they are hearing (1 Thessalonians 5:21)—to “test” and “try” the spirits because there are so many false prophets and deceptive spirits out there in the world (1 John 4:1-3; 1 Timothy 4:1). Sarah Young claims to be getting messages from Jesus, but many of her messages in Jesus Calling have serious New Age implications—like her “Jesus” stating that he is “in” everything—that he is “above all as well as in all.”17 Shack author William P. Young claims to have had conversations with God yet has his “Jesus” teaching the New Age Doctrine of Oneness—God dwelling “in” everyone and everything.18
We can test or try the spirits by measuring or comparing what is being said with the Gospel and the Word of God. If a supposed message (or messenger) from God contradicts God’s Word and the Gospel message, then we know that that spirit is not of God. In the case of the “Jesus” in Jesus Calling and The Shack, where he teaches that God is “in” everything and everyone, this clearly is the teaching of “another spirit” (2 Corinthians 11:4) because it rejects the Gospel wherein God (Jesus) came in the flesh to save man from his sins.
It is yet another one of Satan’s most cunning devices to get Christian leaders and everyday believers to overlook, forget, omit, ignore, or somehow disbelieve in the necessity of testing the spirits.
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)
8) The New StoryNew Age leaders are teaching that we need a “new narrative”—a “new story” to replace what is perceived to be the tired “old story” of biblical Christianity. As mentioned, the “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles teaches the alleged “new story” of the necessity of humanity being “awakened” from its “fearful” ungodly dream of “separation” by “God’s Dream” of “Oneness.” The “new story”—“God’s Dream”—teaches that as humanity awakens to the truth of Oneness, world peace becomes a real possibility. But the new story warns that those who are under the “illusion of separation”—those who do not believe that God is “in” everyone and everything—hinder and prevent world peace through their disbelief. Thus, the new story of “God’s Dream” for the world and the church isolates those who do not hold to the New Age Doctrine of Oneness—like Christians—and will ultimately lead to their persecution. Biblical believers are disparagingly referred to as those who believe the “old story” of separation. But the Bible’s story is not old in that pejorative sense. It is as true today as when it was originally written and recorded. Humanity is not God, and humanity is not one with God. God and His creation are separate. “God’s Dream” is not a new story. Rather it is a cunningly devised fable that is just another one of Satan’s clever devices.
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16)
9) Quantum SpiritualityWhen I was involved with New Age spirituality, Fritjof Capra’s 1975 book The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels Between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism was a New Age classic. Capra contended that quantum physics was in the process of proving that God was a force and an energy field that interpenetrated all creation. And with quantum physics leading the way, a New Age/New Spirituality was gearing up to make both a proverbial and literal “quantum leap” to a “quantum spirituality” and a “quantum Christ”—not the biblical Christ but a New Age “God” and “Christ” who were “in” everyone and everything. Back then, I didn’t know that the Bible warned about those who falsely use science to try and prove their faith (1 Timothy 6:20-21).
Sadly, church figures like Leonard Sweet are joining this march to New Age Oneness by way of quantum physics. In his 1991 book Quantum Spirituality, Sweet openly proclaims his belief in Oneness by quoting Catholic mystic Thomas Merton:
We are already one. But we imagine we are not. And what we have to recover is our original unity.19
Sweet’s New Age sympathies become even more apparent when he states that this Oneness and original unity is based on his belief that God is “in” everyone and everything. He writes that his view of postmodern Christianity—spell that New Age Christianity—“entails a radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation.”20 My former New Age teachers couldn’t have said it any more clearly than what Sweet is telling the church. An ordained Methodist who speaks all over the world, Sweet has led workshops with Rick Warren—and is, indeed, teaching the church a “radical doctrine”—the New Age Doctrine of Oneness. Compounding his New Age sympathies, Sweet refers to the father of the New Age movement—Catholic Jesuit priest Pierre Teilhard de Chardin—as “Twentieth-century Christianity’s major voice.”21 Sweet also talks openly about the importance of “God’s Dream.”22 While Sweet and others are clearly New Age sympathizers, their unbiblical New Age teachings remain uncontested in a church that doesn’t seem to understand what is really going on. Trying to use science to prove something that is not true—God “in” everything—is just another clever device being used by Satan to deceive the church.
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. (1 Timothy 6:19-21)
10) The Planetary Pentecost—a False Last-Days RevivalAs part of the New Age movement, we believed we would be part of a worldwide effort to bring about world peace. The New Age “Christ” states—and we believed—that Armageddon doesn’t have to happen—that there is an “alternative to Armageddon” that he calls the “Planetary Pentecost.”23 It is described as an ultimate revival for the world and the church. It would engender everyone’s hope for “God’s Dream”—for world peace. But there is no alternative to prophecy, and the Book of Revelation is presented as direct prophecy from Jesus Christ (Revelation 1:1-3). The Book of Revelation does not mention any true revival taking place in the latter times. There will be a false New Age revival that will bring on a false New Age “Christ” and a false New Age peace. But in the end, “God’s Dream” will become a New Age nightmare. They will say peace, but there will be no peace until the true Christ—Jesus Christ—actually returns. Dangling the possibility of world peace through a false planetary revival that will include an apostate “church,” this Planetary Pentecost is perhaps one of Satan’s cruelest devices.
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:3)
LTRP Note: The article above is from Warren B. Smith’s booklet The Big Picture.
Endnotes1) Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1970s (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, Inc., 1980), p. 27.2) Warren B. Smith, Be Still and Know That You are Not God: God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2015).3) A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume (Glen Allen, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1975, 1992), (Text) p. 147.4) Ibid., (Text) p. 125.5) Ibid., (Text) p. 52.6) Ibid., (Text) p. 425.7) Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation: A Message of Hope for the New Millennium (Novato, CA: Nataraj Publishing, 1995), p. 233.8) A Course in Miracles, op cit., p. 50.9) Ibid., pp. 377, 584.10) Restoring the Shack television series, Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), March 12, 2017, Episode 5.11) William P. Young, The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity (Los Angeles, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 112.12) Sarah Young, Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004), p. 199.13) Warren B. Smith, False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care? (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, 2011); Warren B. Smith, Oneness vs. Separation Heresy Now in the Church (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2018).14) Katherine Tingley, Editor (Theosophical Path magazine, Volume X, No. 2, February 1916), p. 159.15) Warren B. Smith, God’s Dream: Satan’s Ultimate Scheme (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Publishing).16) Robert H. Schuller, Your Church Has Real Possibilities (Glendale, CA: Regal Books Division, G/L Publications, 1974), pp. 176-179.17) Sarah Young, Jesus Calling, op. cit., p. 199.18) William P. Young, The Shack, op. cit., p. 112.19) Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic (Dayton, OH: Whaleprints for SpiritVenture Ministries, Inc., 1991, 1994), p. 13.20) Ibid., p. 125.21) Ibid., p. 106.22) Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami, Sink or Swim in the New Millennium Culture (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999), p. 34.23) Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation, op. cit., p. 157.
To order copies of The Big Picture—How the World and the Church Are Being Deceived: Ten Spiritual Devices,click here.
(Illustration from cover of The Big Picture booklet.)
To read more material by Warren Smith, including his spiritual biography, The Light That Was Dark: From the New Age to Amazing Grace, visit his website at: www.newagetoamazinggrace.com.
By Berit Kjos
Today’s “progressive” emerging churches have little love for the old certainties that have grounded genuine Christians in God’s revealed truth for 2000 years. They say those precious guidelines don’t fit the new dialectic and collective ways of thinking. Today’s entertainment-driven Christians prefer “feel good” assurances stripped of unwanted references to sin, guilt, or moral boundaries.
In other words, the old delight in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is being replaced with a new emphasis on one’s relationship to the group or “collective.” Many flock to the “emerging” or progressive churches that have expanded their positive message far beyond the old biblical “box.”
Consequently, many churches simply ignore the reality of our omnipotent, all-powerful Savior and King. Such almighty power and authority simply doesn’t fit our times. Too many self-proclaiming Christians are happy to trade His eternal Word for ever-changing truths that match the permissive god of their subjective imagination. “We’re on a journey,” they say, “So nothing can be set in stone.” Always changing, always transforming!
With biblical doctrine set aside, there is no longer a sure anchor for discernment, leaving parents “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine” (Ephesians 4:14) and their children without a foundation for their lives. Meanwhile, pastors, teachers, and popular Christian leaders keep writing books that promote rebellion against Him. For example, a number of years ago popular author and former evangelical Brian McLaren openly rejected, even mocked, the major tenets of the Christian faith. In a 2006 radio interview, he told listeners that the doctrine of Hell is “false advertising for God.”1 To him and many others, there is no need for the Cross as a substitutionary death and an atonement for sin.
McLaren’s award-winning book, A New Kind of Christian, was written as a semi-fictional dialogue, so that readers could experience the thrill of questioning old truths and discovering new truth through the dialectic process. Notice how the introduction touts the postmodern worldview while raising doubts about biblical faith:
I realize, as I read and reread the Bible, that many passages don’t fit any of the theological systems I have inherited or adapted. Sure, they can be squeezed in, but after a while my theology looks like a high school class trip’s luggage—shoestrings hanging out here, zippers splitting apart there. . . .
I read what other people who are having similar experiences are saying, including people writing outside of the religious context—like this from [Buddhist sympathizer] Peter Senge: “In any case, our Industrial Age management. . . . our Industrial Age way of living will not continue. . . . It’s not sustainable in ecological terms, and it’s not sustainable in human terms. It will change. The only question is how. . . .”
I meet people along the way who model for me, each in a different way, what a new kind of Christian might look like. They differ in many ways, but they generally agree that the old show is over, the modern jig is up, and it’s time for something radically new.2 (Emphasis added.)
McLaren sounds strikingly similar to the late New Age teacher Barbara Marx Hubbard when she said, “The old play is almost over.” 3 Hubbard believed there would be a “selection process” that would somehow eliminate those who are slowing down the New Age (Age of Enlightenment) plan. Could Brian McLaren’s emerging church fall into lockstep with New Agers who believe biblical “dogmatic” Christians are the world’s enemy? Very possibly. The New Age and the emerging church both promote a false exalted view of man and a diminished view of Christ’s atonement.
Many popular evangelical leaders helped to bring Brian McLaren’s dream for a “radically new” Christianity to the forefront. And thanks to those early “launchers” of McLaren, he continues being an unbiblical influencer to many, especially young people.
Rick Warren was one of those who recommended McLaren on his original pastors.com website.4 And in emerging figure Dan Kimball’s book, The Emerging Church, Rick Warren and Brian McLaren shared the spot of writing forewords for the book, giving the impression that they were in unison regarding the emerging church. Bill Hybels, founding pastor of Willow Creek, often included McLaren in his leadership conferences.
While these Christian leaders later distanced themselves from Brian McLaren, the indispensable role they played in helping to launch him into fame was undoubtedly significant. In the year 2000, practically no one had heard of Brian McLaren; by 2005, Time magazine named him one of the top 25 most influential evangelicals in America!5 That influence continues to this day.
How does all this relate to our children? Brian McLaren gives us a glimpse in his book, Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices. In that book, he explained that the emerging church must infiltrate the very “institutions that rejected it,”6 saying:
[O]ver time, what they reject will find or create safe space outside their borders and become a resource so that many if not most of the grandchildren of today’s fundamentalists will learn and grow and move on from the misguided battles of their forebears [biblical believers].7 (emphasis added)
In other words, what Brian McLaren has predicted is that our children and grandchildren will move away from the biblical truths we have instilled in them. Rick Warren once said that the older traditional Christians will have to leave the churches or die because they won’t change,8 thus the emphasis in the emerging church is on the youth.
What’s alarming is that Brian McLaren’s vision of infiltration is working. McLaren expresses his high hopes:
At the center, safe space happens. A learning community forms. New possibilities emerge. A new day dawns. If the guardians of our fragmented religious institutions forbid their members to meet in the center [i.e., compromise truth and engage in the dialectic], the members will not be able to comply. They will simply go undercover [talking about emerging figures] and arrange secret liaisons . . . Eventually, the shared resources, vitality, and new possibilities that unfold . . . will penetrate and reinvigorate . . . Trying to stop [this is] a losing game.9
There is an agenda that is after the minds of our children and grandchildren! And it is disguised in seemingly Christian vernacular.
Our children and grandchildren stand in the wake of this spreading deception. If they are not prepared and equipped to follow God and take a stand, they may yield their hearts to this process with little or no resistance.
Never before have our children been surrounded by so many spiritual counterfeits, seductive suggestions, and occult imagery and precepts. And never before has the Christian community been less prepared to resist a spiritual assault on the bride of Christ.
It’s up to us as parents and grandparents to teach our children and grandchildren to stand strong against these deceptions, put on the whole armor of God, and walk by the light God has given us through His Word. We can’t trust church personnel, Sunday school teachers, or youth pastors to fulfill our God-given assignment. But when we do trust God and when we prepare our own hearts, teach His Word, and train our children to follow His narrow way, we will experience a kind of fellowship in our families that far exceeds the fleeting, deceptive fun that the world offers.
In prior centuries, while there were always some who were involved in the occult, North Americans, for the most part, enjoyed relative freedom from the occult forces that tormented so many other parts of the world. The pilgrims and a significant number of other believers trusted God and played a huge role in helping to build a foundation on biblical and moral standards. And God protected this land, so that few were exposed to words and actions that led to the occult.
Today’s emerging world system has called for an unbiblical peace (a global peace that does not include Christ) and a prescribed form of solidarity that has little tolerance for Christians who refuse to compromise. Yet, if we continue in the faith and in trusting Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, He promises never to leave us, and He will surely meet all our needs according to His will. Those who resist the world’s tempting lies in His name will be safe in Him—now and forever!
If we remain firm in our faith, we offer the next generation (our children and grandchildren) a heritage they can carry forth into the future. We need to pass the torch of faith and truth on to them. When Paul and Silas were asked by the jailer, “What must I do to be saved?” they replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:30-31). And although this was not an unequivocal statement that we can automatically pass our faith onto our children, Christian parents need to realize and be encouraged by the fact that our faith, if it is firmly rooted in the Gospel and His Word, has the potential of having a profound effect on the next generation. So, while wolves in sheep’s clothing have come out of the woodwork from both the secular and the professing Christian realms and have invaded the fold, let us be all the more diligent in our efforts to pave the way for our children’s future—a future where they can be well-equipped with spiritual armor to face the various trials and testings of their faith and tribulations that are to come.
This world system denies the message of the Cross and gravitates more and more toward an interreligious global body. That is becoming more apparent and self-evident with each passing day for now laws have been put into place demanding that even the name of Jesus be banned from all kinds of public places. But we must remain vigilant and steadfast in the faith once delivered to the saints! What Jesus prayed to His Father almost 2000 years ago is now His message for us:
I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.—Jesus (John 17:15-18)Endnotes:
2006 interview between Brian McLaren and Leif Hansen, https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/brianmclarenandthecross.htm, (transcript and audio file).Brian D. McLaren, A New Kind of Christian (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 1st edition, 2001), pp. xx-xxi. Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation (Belvedere Tiburon, CA: Nataraj Publishing, 2nd ed., 1995), p. 195.Pastors.com website: Issue #214, July 6, 2005.“The 25 Most Influential Evangelicals in America” (Time magazine, February 7, 2005, http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,1993235_1993243_1993300,00.html).Brian McLaren, Finding Our Way Again (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2008), p. 133.Ibid.“Purpose Driven Resisters—Must Leave or Die” (June 2006, https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/resistersdieorleave.htm).Brian McLaren, Finding Our Way Again, op. cit., p. 139.