How did it begin?
Many think that the Emerging Church movement was started by a bunch of young people who wanted a hip atmosphere at church ... not so at all.
According to an article in the recent edition of Criswell Theological Review, written by Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill, it was the Leadership Network that initiated the Emerging Church movement. Driscoll states:
In the mid-1990s I was a young church planter trying to establish a church in the city of Seattle when I got a call to speak at my first conference. It was hosted by Leadership Network and focused on the subject of Generation X. ... Out of that conference a small team was formed to continue conversing about postmodernism ...
By this time Leadership Network hired Doug Pagitt to lead the team and organize the events. He began growing the team and it soon included Brian McLaren. Pagitt, McLaren, and others such as Chris Seay, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, and Andrew Jones stayed together and continued speaking and writing together as friends....
McLaren, a very gifted writer, rose to team leader in part because he had an established family and church, which allowed him to devote a lot of time to the team. That team eventually morphed into what is now known as Emergent. (Mark Driscoll, "A Pastoral Perspective on the Emerging Church")
Incidentally, in Driscoll's article about the Emerging Church, he left out the one element that counts the most - the Emerging Church's affinity with contemplative spirituality. As I have often said, remove contemplative from emerging and all you have left is coffee, couches and candles.
The Great Controversy (1911), p. 464
Before the final visitation of God's judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time to prepare a people for the Lord's second coming. The enemy of souls desires to hinder this work; and before the time for such a movement shall come, he will endeavor to prevent it by introducing a counterfeit. In those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power he will make it appear that God's special blessing is poured out; there will be manifest what is thought to be great religious interest. Multitudes will exult that God is working marvelously for them, when the work is that of another spirit. Under a religious guise, Satan will seek to extend his influence over the Christian world.
In a previous section, we learned that spiritualism appears beautiful on the outside and will teach a higher form of spirituality. Spiritual formation fits this description. On the surface, it sounds innocent, but as we will see, it is nothing more than a disguised form of spiritualism and is being used to lead people back to Rome. Because it is embraced by all religions, we should be alarmed and question its origin and where it leads. Following are further details on spiritual formation and spiritual direction.
Spiritual formation is the activity of the Holy Spirit which molds our lives into the likeness of Jesus Christ. This likeness is one of deep intimacy with God and genuine compassion for all of creation. The Spirit works not only in the lives of individuals but also in the church, shaping it into the Body of Christ. We cooperate with this work of the Spirit through certain practices that make us more open and responsive to the Spirit's touch, disciplines such as sabbath keeping, works of compassion and justice, discernment, worship, hospitality, spiritual friendships, and contemplative silence.
First United Methodist Church
Spiritual Formation is the process by which people are shaped by God's love and enabled to grow in their faith. We are spiritually formed through practices such as prayer, study, fasting, worship, and other disciplines. There are several programs at First Church which focus on spiritual growth. Here at First Church, we provide resources and information about Spiritual Formation, both in our church and elsewhere.
How is spiritual formation achieved?
- Theological Training
- Certificate Programs in Spiritual Direction
- BA and MA Programs
- Bible Studies
- Independent study/reading the classics
- Corporate worship
- Volunteer service
Practice of spiritual disciplines
- Prayer, the study of scripture, fasting, simplicity, solitude, confession, worship, submission, service, etc.
Ordinary experiences of everyday life
- Work and play
- Family life
Many of these approaches are not questionable, and this is what makes spiritual formation deceptive. Some of those promoting it may not even realize its dangers, because on the surface it appears to be Christ-centered.
If you have become involved in mystical spiritual formation, please read the following:
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
The Review and Herald, May 6, 1862
When those who have witnessed and experienced false exercises, are convinced of their mistake, then Satan takes advantage of their error, and holds it constantly before them, to make them afraid of any spiritual exercises, and in this way he seeks to destroy their faith in true godliness. A fear rests upon the mind, of making any effort by earnest, fervent prayer to God for special aid and victory, because they were once deceived. Such must not let Satan gain his object, and drive them to cold formality and unbelief. They must remember that the foundation of God standeth sure. Let God be true, and every man a liar. Their only safety is to plant their feet upon the platform of truth, to see and understand the third angel's message, prize, love, and obey the truth.
Lighthouse Trails Research has added the Alpha Course to its Spiritual Formation list.... It is the hope of Lighthouse Trails that believers can be made aware of this fast growing spirituality that negates biblical Christianity because of its mystical, panentheistic roots….
“The NEW AGE of Alpha: A critique of the Alpha Course for those who know their Bible”
THE Alpha Course has swept the globe and is being used by an incredibly wide range of groups—including Anglicans and Roman Catholics, Methodists and Seventh Day Adventists. Where other evangelistic initiatives have petered out very swiftly, Alpha has done the opposite. From its roots in the late 1970s, Alpha has grown to stunning proportions today and millions have already participated.
This information comes from the Alpha course website:
Alpha is an opportunity to explore the meaning of life in a relaxed, friendly setting. The Alpha course usually meets once per week for 10 weeks, and includes an amazing one-day or weekend getaway. Each session, people enjoy great food, laughter and learning in a fun and friendly atmosphere where no question about life or God is seen as too simple or too hostile....
During the 1990s, the Alpha course spread–first throughout the UK and then internationally–as more churches and groups found it a helpful way to answer people’s questions about the Christian faith. Now, there are more than 33,500 courses run in 163 countries and the Alpha course is supported by all major denominations.
Alpha also includes a marriage course. Following are some of the SDA churches where the Alpha Course has been offered:
White Memorial SDA Church, Portland, Maine
Ken Dedeker, Minnetonka SDA Church, Minnesota
Grace Adventist Church, National City, California
Torquay SDA Church, Canada
Contact: Pastor Damir Super, Croatia
It is tragic that so many SDA churches continue to use the devil’s methods to lure in the unchurched.
An ancient and contemporary pathway to God, Tom Gallagher, May 28, 2010
“Spiritual direction is an ancient practice in the church and was recovered and renewed by Vatican Council II,” said cofounder Mercy Sr. Janet Ruffing, an author and a professor in the practice of spirituality and ministerial leadership at Yale Divinity School, New Haven, Conn.
Spiritual Directors International (SDI)
SDI explains that it is an interspiritual “learning community committed to advancing spiritual direction around the world” with a membership that “consists of people from many nations and many faiths.” According to SDI, spiritual direction is “the contemplative practice of helping another person or group to awaken to the mystery called God in all of life,” and they respond “to this call by tending the holy around the world and across traditions.”
This website’s spiritual direction bibliography for theses and dissertations on Spiritual Direction and Formation in August 2001 listed the following two SDA pastors: Lyle Arakaki on spiritual direction as a model for assimilating new baptized members in the SDA Church (1997, San Francisco Theological Union) and Derek Morris on nurturing the pastor’s spiritual discipline of prayer through the dynamic of spiritual direction (1987, Andrews University). Michael Edward Dunn (Angwin, California) is listed under the spiritual directors for the SDA Church.
Spiritual Direction was started by mystics and promoted by “Christians.” According to Wikipedia online, it is “the practice of being with people as they attempt to deepen their relationship with the divine, or to learn and grow in their own personal spirituality. The person seeking direction shares stories of his or her encounters of the divine, or how he or she is experiencing spiritual issues. The director listens and asks questions to assist the directee in his or her process of reflection and spiritual growth. Spiritual direction develops a deeper relationship with the spiritual aspect of being human.” God’s words teach the opposite of these practices.
Trust ye not in a friend, put ye not confidence in a guide.
Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
Sermons and Talks, Vol. 2, p. 164
God has been greatly dishonored by His people leaning upon human beings. He has not told us to do this. He has told us that He will teach us, He will guide us. We may come to Him and receive help. "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally," and upbraideth you not for your ignorance.
The Gospel Herald, March 1, 1901
Do not depend upon human beings for spiritual help. Resist the temptation to make flesh your arm. Look to God as children look to an earthly Father. Believe that He loves you and that He will help you, even as He has promised. If you will believe, you will have confidence, trust, reliance, and rich blessings, because you will realize that Christ is the foundation of your faith.
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 381
The promises of God are full and abundant, and there is no need for anyone to depend upon humanity for strength. To all that call upon Him, God is near to help and succor. And He is greatly dishonored when, after inviting our confidence, we turn from Him--the only One who will not misunderstand us, the only One who can give unerring counsel--to men who in their human weakness are liable to lead us astray.
Ibid., p. 487
I shall not dishonor my Lord by encouraging people to come to me for counsel, when they have a standing invitation to go to the One who is able to carry them and all their burdens.
This instruction from the Lord also applies to such programs as Promise Keepers, counseling, and modern psychology.
This type of prayer has no scriptural support. Philippians 4:6 tells us to let our requests be made known to God through prayer. It is to be comprehended communication with God, not mystical meditation with mantras. Matthew 6:7 states that when we pray, we are not to use vain repetitions. This is also a problem with popular songs of today that tend to repeat the same words often or include hypnotic drum beats.
Manuscript Releases, Vol. 18, pp. 101-102
By the expression "vain repetitions" the Saviour meant words without meaning, words oft repeated without corresponding thought or proper understanding, words spoken without true and earnest desire. God is not pleased with a careless, unmeaning repetition of many words. This is what makes many prayers long and tiresome....
Having cautioned His disciples not to use vain repetitions in their prayers, Christ gave them a model prayer. "After this manner therefore pray ye," He said:
"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." [Matthew 6:9-12]
I am instructed to say to all our churches, Pray the prayer that Christ taught to His disciples. Study this prayer; live it; and you will win a crown of life everlasting.
True meditation is to think about or fill our minds with God’s Word, not empty our mind as in Eastern meditation. The quotes below instruct on how to meditate and show us the right type of contemplation and transformation.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 60
God bids us fill the mind with great thoughts, pure thoughts. He desires us to meditate upon His love and mercy, to study His wonderful work in the great plan of redemption. Then clearer and still clearer will be our perception of truth, higher, holier, our desire for purity of heart and clearness of thought. The soul dwelling in the pure atmosphere of holy thought will be transformed by communion with God through the study of Scriptures.
Manuscript Releases, Vol. 15, p. 25
Fill the mind with the great humiliation of Christ, and then contemplate His divine character, His majesty and glory of the Highest, and His disrobing Himself of these and clothing His divinity with humanity. Then we can see a self-denial, a self-sacrifice, that was the marvel of angels.
Lift Him Up, p. 43
The contemplation of the matchless depths of a Saviour's love should fill the mind, touch and melt the soul, refine and elevate the affections, and completely transform the whole character....
Manuscript Releases, Vol. 20, p. 339
There is a rich abundance of precious truths in God's Word--truths which are of vital consequence to the people of God, truths which will fill the mind with fragrant thoughts of heavenly things and provide a solid foundation for character building. Discard fables and vain imaginings. Present only the words, "It is written." Let Jesus take possession of mind and heart.
The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation (Washington D.C.) is one of the leading centers of contemplative spirituality and for training “spiritual directors.” It offers various resources and programs for clergy, lay leaders, spiritual directors, and individuals. They “honor each individual spiritual path” and welcome those who seek to learn the contemplative way. The question is asked: “Do you wish to deepen your spiritual life?” The Personal Spiritual Deepening Program is a resource for anyone wanting to “integrate a contemplative orientation.” This institute was founded in 1972 by Tilden Edwards (an Episcopal priest and author), and Gerald May (1940-2005), an author who practiced medicine, psychiatry, and spiritual counseling. The institute’s mission is to spread the new spirituality prayer to Christianity. Two of its programs offered include the Earth Mystics series and the Group Spiritual Direction Workshop & Retreat. This institute teaches that “contemplation includes a reverence for the Divine Mystery, finding God in all things, or being open to God's presence, however it may appear.” SDAs have trained at this institute and teach its practices to SDA members. We have to wonder why, when pantheistic practices are clearly involved.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, p. 291
Already there are coming in among our people spiritualistic teachings that will undermine the faith of those who give heed to them. The theory that God is an essence pervading all nature is one of Satan’s most subtle devices. It misrepresents God and is a dishonor to His greatness and majesty. Pantheistic theories are not sustained by the word of God. The light of His truth shows that these theories are soul-destroying agencies. Darkness is their element, sensuality their sphere. They gratify the natural heart and give license to inclination. Separation from God is the result of accepting them.
Below are some of the most notable non-SDA mystics and/or proponents of the emerging church movement with some background information.
- Alice A. Bailey (1880–1949)
- Author and teacher of the occult, pantheism, theosophy, esoteric healing, astrology, meditation, psychology, the New Age, and contemplative spirituality. She is a large part of the reason for the New Age and emerging church movements today and originated the term “New Age.” She believed in the “coming Christ” but not the true Christ of the Bible.
- Referred to her togetherness/community mindset as “right human relations.”
- Stated that most of her writings were telepathically dictated to her by a “Master of the Wisdom,” initially referred to only as “the Tibetan,” or by the initials “D.K.,” later identified as “Djwhal Khul.”
- Influenced by Madame Blavatsky, who lived in the 1800s and was the founder of theosophy and dealt in mythology and the supernatural.
- Henri Nouwen (1932–1996)
- Catholic priest and mystic.
- Authored 40 books on spirituality, with the most widely read being Sabbatical Journey; The Way of the Heart; The Wounded Healer; The Life of the Beloved; In the Name of Jesus; and Clowning in Rome.
- Taught at the University of Notre Dame, Harvard University, and Yale University.
- Studied psychology to be able to “better communicate theology.”
- Did not believe that Jesus was the only way to God.
- Believed that all make their own way to God, because God dwells in each human being.
- Very influential in promoting contemplative spirituality and contemplative prayer.
- Promoted Hindu spirituality, stating that “all is One,” that all paths lead to God, and that the God in everything unites everything.
- Endorsed a Hindu book that teaches mantra meditation.
- Taught that leaders of the future must move to the mystical.
- Thomas Kelly (1893–1941)
- Quaker scholar, missionary, speaker, and educator.
- Authored the book, A Testament of Devotion. The back cover states that the book urges us to center our lives on God’s presence, to find stillness, to discover the peace of the inner spiritual journey.
- M. Scott Peck (1936–2005)
- American psychiatrist and author of the self-help book, The Road Less Traveled, which sold millions of copies.
- Wrote on mystical prayer in his book, A World Waiting to Be Born.
- Stated that Zen Buddhism should be taught in all the fifth-grade classes in the U.S.
- Wrote in his book, A Time of Departing, that individuals are to become “totally, wholly God” and that this was promoted by Buddha, Christ, and many others. Later became a “Christian” and promoted Christian mysticism and contemplative prayer.
- Endorsed a book which stated that we should move away from the historical Jesus toward the “cosmic Christ.”
- Major New Age leader.
- Thought the idea of the resurrection of the body to be distasteful.
- Thomas Merton:
- Catholic monk.
- Recently popularized contemplative prayer; interspirituality; New Age thinking, especially Taoism (Chinese witchcraft), Buddhism, and Hinduism. Authored the book Contemplative Prayer.
- Believed that when mankind comes into unity that disease, sickness, poverty, etc. will be done away with.
- Thomas Keating:
- Catholic monk and priest; author and teacher.
- Founded centering prayer in the 1970s, along with William Meninger and Basil Pennington; directs retreats in the practice.
- Wrote the book, Intimacy with God: An Introduction to Centering Prayer, which teaches centering prayer, Lectio Divina, praying the rosary, etc.
- Has attracted tens of thousands in speeches and retreats, spreading the word to a world of “hungry people, looking for a deeper relationship with God.”
- Believes that centering prayer should be a time to let go of all thoughts. He even claims that the Holy Spirit will not “barge in” and that “when we are willing to abandon our very limited human modes of thought and concepts and open a welcoming space that the Spirit will begin to operate in us at this divine level.” This is a common concept in the New Age movement and leaves no room for the Holy Spirit but leaves plenty of room for the spirits of devils.
- Matthew Fox:
- A former priest.
- Believes in ecumenism and New Age mysticism.
- Authored The Coming of the Cosmic Christ and Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet.
- Former president of the University of Creation Spirituality which he developed, since he believes that God and Christ are in all things; lectures, teaches, and is president of Friends of Creation Spirituality.
- Taught at Stanford University, University of Oklahoma, Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Unity Institute in Kansas City and Wisdom University.
- Richard Foster:
- Quaker theologian and has been a professor at Friends University and a pastor of Evangelical Friends churches.
- Best known for his book Celebration of Discipline, which includes the inward discipline of meditation, the outward discipline of solitude, and the corporate discipline of celebration.
- Wrote Streams of Living Water, which examines contemplative prayer, the charismatic “spirit-empowered life,” the incarnational and sacramental life, and that he envisions “a great, new gathering of the people of God” with “a Catholic monk standing alongside a Baptist evangelist together offering up a sacrifice of praise.”
- Founded Renovaré in 1988, a Christian renewal para-church organization. In 2008 Foster retired as president of Renovaré, but remains a member of the Board and Ministry Team. Over the following years, Renovaré held conferences in the U.S. on spiritual formation.
- Along with several other authors, wrote two editions of an NRSV-based study Bible entitled Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible, which focuses on his six disciplines.
- Co-authored the book Longing for God.
- Thad Rutter, Jr.:
- Wrote the book, Where the Heart Longs to Go: A New Image for Pastoral Ministry.
- Believes that a pastoral ministry which is rooted in contemplative prayer will nurture the pastor’s own faith journey and is for the caring of God’s people.
- Neale Walsch:
- Prominent New Age leader promoting a “new reformation” and a “new spirituality,” yet not even a Christian.
- Believes in the “global community” that incorporates all beliefs and which makes everyone right.
- Author known for the New Age bestseller series of books, Conversations with God, including the book, Conversations with God for Teens, with unbiblical answers to questions that he dictated as he listened to an inner voice and includes teaching on the wrong type of meditation.
- Brennan Manning:
- Has been a Catholic priest, friar, an author, and a speaker who leads spiritual retreats and travels worldwide.
- Recommends mysticism, contemplative prayer, psychology, the New Age movement, liberation theology, and a mixture of Catholicism and Protestantism.
- Invited by Malcolm Maxwell to give the Week of Prayer at Pacific Union College a number of years ago.
- Dallas Willard:
- Philosophy professor and author.
- Promotes contemplative prayer and mysticism through spiritual formation.
- Participated in the Ancient Wisdom Conference on mysticism.
- Helped launch the Renovaré Spiritual Formation Study Bible.
- Eugene Peterson:
- A pastor, scholar, author, and poet.
- Wrote over 30 books, including The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (available at ABCs), which is a contemporary paraphrase that includes Marxist, pantheist, and spiritualist thinking. He also wrote the book, The Contemplative Pastor.
- Philip Yancey:
- One of the best-selling evangelical authors. Millions of his books have been sold around the world.
- Columnist and editor-at-large for Christianity Today, which calls the road to maturity the fact that evangelicals are learning from wise teachers in Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. In their November 2004 issue, Yancey wrote, “Perhaps our day calls for a new kind of ecumenical movement: not of doctrine, nor even of religious unity, but one that builds on what Jews, Christians, and Muslims hold in common. . . . Indeed, Jews, Christians, and Muslims have much in common.” On contemplative prayer, he quoted Meister Eckhart: “The quieter the mind the more powerful, the worthier, the deeper, the more telling and more perfect the prayer is.” (“For God's Sake,” Christianity Today). The following comes from Wikipedia online: “Christianity Today is an Evangelical Christian periodical based in Carol Stream, Illinois. It is the flagship publication of its parent company Christianity Today International. . . . The founder, Billy Graham, stated that he wanted to ‘plant the evangelical flag in the middle-of-the-road, taking the conservative theological position but a definite liberal approach to social problems.’ ” This periodical is read regularly by many SDA leaders.
- Speaker at the pro-homosexual American Baptist convention in 2005.
- Gave a presentation at Avondale College SDA Church in October 2001, which was broadcast throughout the South Pacific Division and spoke at Avondale College in 2007.
- Erwin McManus:
- Lead pastor of Mosaic Church in Los Angeles, California. http://mosaic.org
- A worldwide lecturer on leadership, post-modernism, culture, creativity, and change.
- Authored about ten books on emerging church ideas.
- His goal is to “destroy Christianity as a world religion and be a recatalyst for the movement of Jesus Christ.” He also stated, “Some people are upset with me because it sounds like I'm anti-Christian. I think they might be right.”
- Has promoted the Myers-Briggs psychological personality indicator and various other types.
- Founder of Awaken where film makers, humanitarians, artists and poets are involved together with the goal of “maximizing the divine potential” in everyone.
- Promotes contemplative “breathing.”
- Dan Kimball: A pastor and author of several books, including The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations. He promotes spiritual formation, discipleship, the prayer labyrinth, prayer stations, New Age meditation, and “following Jesus without following organized religion.”
- Tony Campolo:
- Pastor, sociologist, public speaker and author.
- Wrote the book, Speaking My Mind, which states that contemplative prayer is the “common ground” between Islam and Christianity.
- Promotes Catholic mystics like Ignatius of Loyola.
- Promotes progressive thought and reform for the evangelical community.
- Believes that the Protestant Reformation left too much Catholic truth behind and that the real problem in this world is “rigid” Christians who believe in Christ’s soon return and are to blame for wars and many other evils.
- In his book, 20 Hot Potatoes Christians Are Afraid To Touch, he writes: “recently, I was a speaker for a large assembly of Seventh Day Adventists. . . .”
- Wrote in the foreword to Adventism for a New Generation by Steve Daily about his positive experiences speaking at numerous SDA universities.
- Presented at the first International Conference on Adventists in the Community.
- In his book, Letters to a Young Evangelical, he states that intimacy with Christ develops gradually through centering prayer.
- Robert Schuller:
- Chairman of the Crystal Cathedral church’s board of directors in Garden Grove, California.
- Retired pastor and founder of the “Hour of Power” worldwide television program.
- Author who promotes psychology and those like Bill Hybels of the Willow Creek megachurch and Henri Nouwen.
- Advocates visualization.
- Chuck Swindoll:
- Evangelical pastor of the Stonebriar Community Church in Texas.
- Founder of the worldwide radio program, “Insight for Living.”
- Head of Dallas Theological Seminary.
- Educator and author of many books, including one on contemplative prayer entitled So, You Want to Be Like Christ? Eight Essentials to Get You There.
- Max Lucado:
- Founder of UpWords, a teaching radio ministry.
- In 25 years of writing, more than 65 million of his books have been sold.
- Reader’s Digest named him “America’s Best Preacher”; Christianity Today called him “America’s Pastor.”
- A DVD called “Be Still” was produced by Lucado, Dallas Willard, and many others and features an interview with Richard Foster, Dallas Willard and others.
- A preaching minister at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas.
- Lucado quotes from a book on Jewish mysticism as well as other mystics and contemplatives, such as Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Merton, Eugene Peterson, and Richard Foster.
- Barnes and Noble bookstores include Lucado’s book Cure for the Common Life under their New Age section.
- Lucado’s books are sold at some ABCs.
- Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen: Authors of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, which is popular with SDAs. Over 80 million copies have been sold. Even though the stories seem uplifting, the authors’ New Age spirituality should lead us to avoid books by these types of authors. Canfield practices yoga, tai chi (a Chinese martial art) and meditation (vipasana which is ancient Buddhist techniques, transcendental which is mantra meditation, along with sound mantra). In addition, he teaches the occult “psychosynthesis” method and has stated that he “felt God flowing through all things.” He also has written and speaks on success principles, including information on metaphysics and meditation. Hansen promotes meditation, and both authors promote occult writers who are channelers and mediums.
Selected Messages, Book 3, p. 232
Just so when infidel authors are studied. These men have sharp intellects, and their sharp ideas are presented, and the mind of the student is influenced by them; they are pleased with their brilliance.
But where did those men obtain their powers of intellect? Where did they get their sharpness? From the fountain of all knowledge. But they have prostituted their powers; they have given them as a contribution to the devil, and don't you think the devil is smart? Many are traveling in the devil's tracks by reading infidel authors. Satan is a sharp being, and they fall in love with his learning and smartness.
The Review and Herald, August 17, 1897
It is not wise to send our youth to universities where they devote their time to gaining a knowledge of Greek and Latin, while their heads and hearts are being filled with the sentiments of the infidel authors whom they study in order to master these languages. They gain a knowledge that is not at all necessary, or in harmony with the lessons of the great Teacher. Generally those educated in this way have much self-esteem. They think they have reached the height of higher education, and carry themselves proudly, as though they were no longer learners. They are spoiled for the service of God. The time, means, and study that many have expended in gaining a comparatively useless education should have been used in gaining an education that would make them all-round men and women, fitted for practical life. Such an education would be of the highest value to them.
At this point in the chapter, you will continue to see the widespread apostasy and spiritualism in the SDA Church and learn about some of the most notable SDA proponents of the emerging church movement.
General Conference of SDA
A cover story on the General Conference website‘s home page for August 11, 2010 discusses how Debbie Higgens has felt called to become the resident director for two years at The Kilns in Oxford, England—C. S. Lewis' home for 20 years where he wrote some of his “most beloved works,” such as The Chronicles of Narnia. Higgens is an Adventist professor from Southern Adventist University (SAU) and has spent much of her career studying and teaching about Lewis. She taught a class on him at Southern and is taking a two-year break. She has a long history with the C. S. Lewis Foundation and has visited The Kilns periodically since the mid 1990s, spending six months there in 2007. She states that she wrote the last two chapters of her dissertation in the office where scholars think Lewis wrote the chronicles of Narnia. Her doctoral committee stated that the last two chapters of her dissertation were her best. While at The Kilns, part of her duties involves overseeing the scholars-in-residence program that allows doctoral candidates from Oxford to reside there while writing their dissertations. Higgens also explains that she hopes to bring the academic side to The Kilns as well as to share the “magic atmosphere” with visitors who tour the home.
Be aware that any of the following is not safe to be involved with.
C. S. Lewis (1898–1963): He was an English author who wrote fantasy, science fiction, and Christian apologetics. He also tutored in philosophy and literature. His writings include:
- The Chronicles of Narnia, which are seven fantasy novels (fairy tales) for children that mix Christian themes with mythology, spells, and magic, and have been adapted for radio and television. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the best known novel.
- The Screwtape Letters, which is a story about letters from a demon to a tempter, advising him on methods to secure the damnation of a man and includes a section where an individual dies and goes to heaven.
In 1955 he admitted that ever since the age of 13 he had trouble with a lust for the occult, due to the influence of a schoolmistress who was involved with it. He became a “Christian” in 1931 and made friends with individuals such as the following:
Charles Williams (1886–1945), who was a “dear friend” and adviser to Lewis; a devout Anglican; a specialist in tarot cards (fortune telling) and Kabbalah (mystical teachings); known as an odd and charismatic man; wrote plays and novels which were often referred to as “supernatural thrillers” about black masses, magical tarot cards, an Antichrist, and necromancy (the dead who speak with the living), and seemed to have a fascination with the occult.
J.R.R. Tolkien (1892–1973), who was a devout Roman Catholic and authored, among other works, Lord of the Rings, which includes rings with magical powers, violence, mythology, fantasy, and religion (still popular today and seen in artwork, music, radio, films, television, videos, games, and literature).
Owen Barfield (1898–1997), who was a philosopher and writer focused on the “evolution of consciousness” and promoted the works of Rudolf Steiner who held wrong views on Jesus and the Second Coming, believed in mysticism, Gnostic elements, spiritual exercises, meditation, reincarnation and karma, and belonged to a Masonic order (a secret society).
Neville Coghill (1899–1980), who was a literary scholar and theatrical producer and director.
During the 1930′s and 40’s, both Lewis and Tolkien were part of a literary group associated with the University of Oxford known as the Inklings. Many assert that both men were closet members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn--an amalgamation of Freemasonry (a secret society which includes Babylonian mystery religions). Among the Golden Dawn’s first initiates was a coroner who allegedly performed necromantic rites (black magic; communicating with the “spirits of the dead” in order to predict the future), while another early member was Aleister Crowley, who dealt in black magic. Lewis and Tolkien were also involved with the following: Theosophy; Eliphas Levi’s teachings (a high level black magic occultist); Enochian Magic (an elaborate system of advanced, Satanic, ceremonial magic); the Kabbalah (highest level of Jewish witchcraft); and medieval grimoire (a manual of black magic for invoking spirits and demons).
Christian Education, p. 245
Literary societies are quite frequently organized, but, in nine cases out of ten, they have proved a damage to souls, rather than a blessing. This is because an alliance is formed with the world, or with a class whose influence and tendency is ever to lead away from the solid, to the superficial, from the real, to the fictitious. Literary societies would be of great advantage, if controlled by a religious element; but sooner or later, the irreligious element is almost certain to gain the ascendancy, and have a controlling influence.
Evangelism, pp. 591-592
Criticism and speculation concerning the Scriptures have opened the way for Spiritualism and Theosophy--those modernized forms of ancient heathenism--to gain a foothold even in the professed churches of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Side by side with the preaching of the gospel, agencies are at work which are but the medium of lying spirits. Many a man tampers with these merely from curiosity, but seeing evidence of the working of a more than human power, he is lured on and on, until he is controlled by a will stronger than his own. He cannot escape from its mysterious power.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 7, p. 84
We are not to unite with secret societies or with trades unions.
Ibid., Vol. 8, p. 27
A power from beneath is working to bring about the last great scenes in the drama,--Satan coming as Christ, and working with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in those who are binding themselves together in secret societies. Those who are yielding to the passion for confederation are working out the plans of the enemy. The cause will be followed by the effect.
The Review and Herald, July 31, 1894
Be afraid of uniting with the world in secret societies, or of being bound in bundles with them.
Selected Messages, Book 2, p. 131
Those who choose to unite with these secret societies are paying homage to idols as senseless and as powerless to bless and save the soul as are the gods of the Hindus.
Manuscript Releases, Vol. 20, p. 286
I have been permitted to look in upon these secret societies, their feasts, their order, their works, and my prayer has been, ‘Hide them from my sight forever. Let me not understand more.’ One thing I do know, that those who remain in connection with them will be burned up with the bundles of tares, one with them in the last day.
Evangelism, p. 622
Those who stand under the blood-stained banner of Prince Immanuel cannot be united with the Free Masons or with any secret organization. The seal of the living God will not be placed upon anyone who maintains such a connection....
Selected Messages, Book 3, p. 85
The Lord also revealed to me Brother Faulkhead's connection with the Free Masons, and I plainly stated that unless he severed every tie that bound him to these associations he would lose his soul.
Manuscript Releases, Vol. 14, p. 10-11
I know from the light given, if you remain connected with the Free Masons, you will surely be bound up with them at last, to receive your portion with them.
With this type of background information, why would the General Conference promote Lewis? This is nothing more than promoting the occult. Tragically, we are now seeing the result of Lewis’ errors being taught for decades in SDA schools.
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.
Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 688-689
Through the agency of evil spirits strange gods were introduced; and because of transgression, the chosen people were finally scattered from the Land of Promise. This history Satan is striving to repeat in our day. God is leading His people out from the abominations of the world, that they may keep His law; and because of this, the rage of "the accuser of our brethren" knows no bounds. "The devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." Revelation 12:10, 12. The antitypical land of promise is just before us, and Satan is determined to destroy the people of God and cut them off from their inheritance. The admonition, "Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation" (Mark 14:38), was never more needed than now.
The word of the Lord to ancient Israel is addressed also to His people in this age: "Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them;" "for all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord." Leviticus 19:31; Deuteronomy 18:12.
The September 16, 2010 issue of the Adventist Review also featured the same information on Higgens and Lewis.
The October 28, 2010 KidsView section of the Adventist Review featured a “Hidden Treasure” word search based on Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It suggested that if the child had not yet read the book that perhaps they would after doing the puzzle. The next page was a children’s calendar that included a photo of Lewis.
At Southwestern Adventist University in Keene, Texas, a 2008 weekend Saxon Lecture Series featured a Lewis scholar, Louis Markos, the English professor at Houston Baptist University. He wrote a book on how Lewis can train us to wrestle with the modern and postmodern world. The series included a Friday night lecture on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and a forums meeting on Saturday afternoon on “Making Sense out of Postmodernism.”
On the Pacific Union College SDA Church website, under “Spiritual Renaissance Retreat,” there were lectures by Louis Markos, with one entitled “Narnia Without Aslan” (the lion character).
Counsels for the Church, p. 210
Shall pagan and infidel sentiments be presented to our students as valuable additions to their store of knowledge? The works of the most intellectual skeptic are the works of a mind prostituted to the service of the enemy; and shall those who claim to be reformers, who seek to lead the children and youth in the right way, in the path cast up for the ransomed of the Lord to walk in, imagine that God would have them present to the youth for their study that which will misrepresent His character and place Him in a false light? Shall the sentiments of unbelievers, the expressions of dissolute men, be advocated as worthy of the student's attention, because they are the productions of men whom the world admires as great thinkers? Shall men professing to believe in God gather from these unsanctified authors their expressions and sentiments, and treasure them up as precious jewels to be stored away among the riches of the mind? God forbid!
The Adventist Chaplain
The July-September 2003 edition of The Adventist Chaplain included information on “spiritual direction” by the editor, Martin Feldbush. He reveals that while serving as a chaplain near Chicago, he took a class in Spiritual Direction at DeAndreis Theological Seminary. He explains that it was his “introduction to the classic ministry form refined through the centuries by Catholic religious and clergy and in recent decades discovered by many Protestants as well.” He also asked two SDA women who were trained as spiritual directors to give an overview of their ministry. They were Delcy Kuhlman and Diane Forsythe. It was then stated that “several spiritual direction training programs are available for chaplains and pastors” and to request more information by visiting http://www.sdiworld.org and taking the navigation bar to “Training Programs and Retreats.” He ended by suggesting that “some of the better-known programs are The Shalem Institute and The Upper Room,” but that there were others as well.
Adventist Single Adult Ministries (ASAM)
ASAM is a part of the NAD of Family Ministries for the SDA Church. Their goal is to “support and nurture relationships for single adults with each other and with other members of the church family.” As you read what follows, you will notice that about the only relationship that is fostered is that with the world. How is that really helping with true relationships? Is not our relationship with God the most important?
A resource provided for the next ASAM convention included the director of Single Adult Ministries of the Worldwide Assemblies of God.
Non-SDA Resources referenced:
- Boundless Webzine: promotes C. S. Lewis
- Saddleback Church
- The Purpose Driven Life
- A “Laugh All Night comedy concert” was promoted. http://laughallnight.com
The Signs of the Times, March 19, 1894
There is need for every soul to study the Pattern, Christ Jesus. Those who follow his methods of labor will have freedom in utterance and earnestness in manner. They will be inspired by the sacred themes of truth.... But let no one think that God will approve of a method which will require a man to act the part of a clown, or like a man who has lost his senses. Such methods as these are wholly unnecessary and inappropriate.
Among the Salvation Army workers such methods as these have been employed; but it is more necessary that they should study and preach the word than act in a sensational way in order to draw the attention of the people. It is the word of truth that, like a strong, golden chain, will bind men to God, where they will learn of the great Teacher. It is the word of God that is to test character. The Lord has precious, conscientious souls who have joined the Army; but they need to advance and receive other and higher truths of the word of God.
That I May Know Him, p. 141
While we are not to be gloomy, but cheerful and happy, there is to be no silliness, but a sobriety in harmony with our faith. Words and actions form character. Therefore our words should be clean, pure, simple, yet elevated. The gift of speech is a valuable talent, and the Lord has no pleasure in hearing low, cheap, degrading nonsense which tastes strongly of vice and revelry. No Christian should condescend to imitate and catch such habits from another.... These evil, silly words are discordant notes and contribute to the happiness of no one. They are a detriment to spirituality. The Word of God forbids them.
Just because a comedian makes a person laugh, does not make them truly happy inside.
The Adventist Home, pp. 521-522
The multitudes are eager for amusement. The mind becomes trifling and frivolous because it is not accustomed to meditation or disciplined to study. Ignorant sentimentalism is current. God requires that every soul shall be cultivated, refined, elevated, and ennobled. But too often every valuable attainment is neglected for fashionable display and superficial pleasure.
The exciting amusements of our time keep the minds of men and women, but more especially the youth, in a fever of excitement, which is telling upon their stock of vitality in a far greater degree than all their studies and physical labors, and have a tendency to dwarf the intellect and corrupt the morals.
The youth are swept away by the popular current. Those who learn to love amusement for its own sake open the door to a flood of temptations. They give themselves up to social gaiety and thoughtless mirth. They are led on from one form of dissipation to another, until they lose both the desire and the capacity for a life of usefulness. Their religious aspirations are chilled; their spiritual life is darkened. All the nobler faculties of the soul, all that link man with the spiritual world, are debased.
Many are eagerly participating in worldly, demoralizing amusements which God's word forbids. Thus they sever their connection with God and rank themselves with the pleasure lovers of the world. The sins that destroyed the antediluvians and the cities of the plain exist today--not merely in heathen lands, not only among popular professors of Christianity, but with some who profess to be looking for the coming of the Son of man. If God should present these sins before you as they appear in His sight, you would be filled with shame and terror.
The desire for excitement and pleasing entertainment is a temptation and a snare to God's people and especially to the young. Satan is constantly preparing inducements to attract minds from the solemn work of preparation for scenes just in the future. Through the agency of worldlings he keeps up a continual excitement to induce the unwary to join in worldly pleasures. There are shows, lectures, and an endless variety of entertainments that are calculated to lead to a love of the world; and through this union with the world, faith is weakened.
Innovative Impact 2010 Pastor’s Leadership Conference
This conference was designed to be a “team thing” geared for pastors and the “key members of their church leadership teams to share and grow together over two days sitting under some of the most insightful leaders in the ‘frontline’ church today.” Those “insightful leaders” include many involved in the charismatic and spiritual formation movements, such as Hyveth Williams, Derek Morris, Fredrick Russell, Carlton Byrd, Roger Hernandez, and others. “Innovative Impact pulls out the stops in making sure that . . . you will encounter Christ all over again, and receive afresh, the ‘Baptism of the Holy Spirit.’ ” There is an increasing tendency by the leadership to reference the baptism of the Holy Spirit. How can these leaders actually believe it is the Holy Spirit when they are borrowing from Satan’s methods? They are inviting a spirit, but it is not a holy one. Again we see signs of a counterfeit latter rain.
Thine own wickedness shall correct thee, and thy backslidings shall reprove thee: know therefore and see that it is an evil thing and bitter, that thou hast forsaken the LORD thy God, and that my fear is not in thee, saith the Lord GOD of hosts.
The Signs of the Times, April 21, 1881
A deplorable state of coldness and backsliding exists in the Christian world today. The Spirit and power of God seems in a great measure to have departed from his professed people, and the enemy of truth rejoices at their weakness and defects. Infidelity is lifting its proud head, and denying the evidences of Christianity, because of the sins existing among professed followers of Christ.
The Upward Look, p. 123
Christ saw Satan patterning after heaven by the use of human association, thus extending the contagion of evil, and He determined to make His church a resisting element. His people are not to borrow the forms and customs of the world, but are to be instinct with the principles which make the church on earth a symbol of the church in heaven, a channel through which heaven's rich blessings can flow.
Partners in Innovation
Partners in Innovation is a missional effort started by the Ohio Conference of SDAs, partnering with other church-related organizations. It is committed to forming the emergence of new ways of doing ministry and missions and to have a “culture of innovation” with “sound theology,” missiology, and other disciplines. They wish to develop communities who will carry faith into the “complex world of the 21st century.”
The Publishing Ministry, p. 102
Some are always straining to get something original. This places them in great danger. They produce something new that is not according to the Word of God, and they have not the discernment to see the real harm that results from their ambition to excel some other one in new and strange productions. Thus error comes to appear to them as truth, and they present it as wonderful new light, when it is an innovation that makes of none effect a "Thus saith the Lord."
Below is a partial list of SDA and non-SDA presenters at the Partners in Innovation conferences from 2005–2010.
James Londis: Received a Ph.D. in Philosophy and an emphasis in religion and ethics at Boston University; director of Ethics and Corporate Integrity, Kettering Medical Center Network with 20 years as a healthcare administrator; religion and ethics professor and Corporate Integrity Officer at a healthcare college; president of a Christian college; a previous pastor at Sligo SDA Church in Maryland.
The following was included in one of the many church resources for the 2005 Partners in Innovation Conference: “A growing number of congregations are realizing that traditional worship (however you define ‘traditional’) will only attract a small percentage of the community around the church. Many non-churched people cannot relate to the tone and culture of our worship services.” One suggestion given to reach the community was to develop an “alternative, innovative, indigenous worship service for and with that group while maintaining the traditional service for those who benefit from it.”
The details of this suggestion are as follows: 1) Since it is “deadly” for church “insiders” to plan worship for non-members of the community because it would be the same as what we already have, ask the community to help plan the worship. That way you will be “much more on target!”; 2) The music needs to “speak to your target group,” “to be a medium for offering the Good News.” “Music is always the glue to worship,” especially innovative worship. The music “doesn’t have to be the music you, as a church member likes. This service is for a new group. If you don’t like that music you don’t have to go to that worship service!”; 3) “As with any change, it is helpful to build congregational support for the launching of this new service. Take the time to prepare your congregation, explaining again and again how a new worship service will help the church move closer to its vision and mission.”
It is obvious from what is transpiring in a growing number of SDA churches that these suggestions have been followed.
Leland Kaiser: The founder and president of Kaiser Consulting (a health care consulting firm located in Brighton, Colorado); co-founder of the Kaiser Institute and Two Worlds Wisdom School; a motivational speaker “known for his ability to change the way organizations think”; an advocate of self-designing communities and organizations; an intuitive, executive coach, and organizational consultant; an author, educator, and pioneer in the field of electronic teaching technologies; a futurist and “acknowledged authority on the changing American healthcare system”; a mentor to many hospitals and healthcare organizations in the U.S.; and a pioneer in tithing programs for hospitals. Kevin and Leanne are his children.
Kevin Kaiser: Co-founder of Kaiser Institute; influential in applied intuition; working to create intuitive organizations; pioneers innovative learning that produces people’s extraordinary intuitive gifts; creator of Kaiser Institute’s Program in Intuition; and a speaker and executive coach.
Leanne Kaiser Carlson: Co-founder and initiatives leader of Kaiser Institute and Two World Wisdom School; an influential health futurist, speaker, and advisor; a writer and a hospital trustee; a Senior Fellow of the Estes Park Institute in the areas of Futures, Innovation, and Wisdom Cultures.
Doug Pagitt: Pastor for Solomon’s Porch (a “holistic, missional, Christian community”); owns businesses in Minnesota; authored Church Re-Imagined and Preaching Re-imagined.
Jon Paulien: Well-known SDA theologian and author; Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Dean of the Faculty of Religion at Loma Linda University.
Rabbi Marcia Prager: Dean of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal Rabbinic Program; rabbi for Philadelphia and Princeton P’nai or Jewish Renewal Communities; authored Path of Blessing and called “one of the best introductions to Jewish Renewal learning and practice.” From her website: Jewish Renewal seeks to “embrace a global vision of the role of all human beings and spiritual paths in the transformation of life.” It sees renewal “as a process reaching beyond denominational boundaries and institutional structures . . . in which Judaism is conscious of its place in an interconnected world.” It is “built on the idea that we live in a transformative moment in time, in which a new paradigm for spiritual life is being developed.” Amidah cards can be ordered from her website. They offer the “ancient nineteen blessings in guided imagery, so you can participate in this soul-expanding journey in a new and inspiring way. The full Hebrew text, when memorized and softly chanted (or ‘davvened’) is a hypnotic mantra enabling the ‘davven-er’ to use its images as aids to deep inner work.” “The Amidah is one of the most powerful meditations in Jewish spiritual practice. These nineteen blessings of praise, hope, holiness, healing, restoration and peace are luminous gateways which guide you in a process of spiritual transformation.”
Philip Jenkins: Professor of History and Religious Studies at Pennsylvania State University; graduate of Cambridge University; published over 20 books on “contemporary religious phenomena”; known best for the highly acclaimed book, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity.
Two features advertised for the 2007 conference were as follows: 1) “Innovations – incremental and radical – are occurring in various contexts. Be introduced to a sampling of these innovations; be inspired by those who are on the frontline, reinventing their way to growth, value, and excellence”; 2) “An experiential, participatory, and communal ‘immersion’ to developing your innovation instincts and abilities.”
Kelly Monroe Kullberg: Founder and director for project development of The Veritas Forum; co-authored best-selling Finding God at Harvard: Spiritual Journeys of Christian Thinkers; authored Finding God Beyond Harvard; taught film and C. S. Lewis at Harvard College; past chaplain of Harvard Graduate School Christian Fellowship.
Julius Nam: Received a Ph.D. in Church History/Adventist Studies from Andrews University; part-time associate professor of religion, Loma Linda University School of Religion; enrolled in Juris Doctor program at UCLA Law (California); known for being an engaging Adventist scholar; active in the American Academy of Religion, Adventist Society for Religious Studies, and The Association of Seventh-day Adventist Historians; taught at Pacific Union College; served as pastor in Korea and the U.S.; a principal in organizing the 2007 scholarly conference on the 50th anniversary of the publication of Seventh-day Adventists Answer Questions on Doctrine; an initiator of “Adventists Against Prop 8”—a small group opposed to California's 2008 “Proposition 8” which banned same-sex marriages—in contrast to the SDA organization’s official position on heterosexual marriage only, with Nam stating that it is “a question of justice” and that we should “lead the way in pushing for equality”; published in magazines, including an interview in Spectrum magazine entitled “In Japan, Adventists find Willow Creek bridge to the unchurched.”
Leonard Sweet: E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew Theological School and Visiting Distinguished Professor at George Fox University; Methodist preacher and worldwide speaker; founder and president of SpiritVenture Ministries; promotes “new light” leaders; author of 600 published sermons, over 100 articles, and 30 books, including The Gospel According to Starbucks; his book, Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic, included a statement from the Jesuit philosopher, Karl Rahner, who stated that a Christian will be a mystic or he will be nothing.
Miscellaneous: Ohio Conference of SDA; Kettering Medical Center Network; The Kaiser Institute; Office of Creative Ministries in the Columbia Union; Versacare, Inc.; Focus PT, Inc.; Center for Creative Ministries and Leadership & Educational Administration Department of Andrews University.
David Neff: Served as editor of a magazine for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (an evangelical and interdenominational campus ministry with over 700 chapters); vice president of Christianity Today International; editor-in-chief of Christianity Today Media Group and Christianity Today magazine, with article topics that include Middle-East peace, environmental concerns, and contemplative prayer.
Suzy Welch: Author, business journalist, commentator, and the former editor of Harvard Business Review; writes (along with her husband) the weekly column The Welch Way; columnist for O – The Oprah Magazine; authored 10-10-10: A Life-Transforming Idea (on self-help). (The Welch Way gives ideas on business management, career success, global competition, mission and values, and how to win in the business world and is in Business Week magazine and the New York Times).
The 6th Annual National Conference on Innovation entitled “Infusion…Where Faith Meets Innovation” was held in Columbus, Ohio and sponsored by the Ohio Conference of SDAs. It was advertised for those who desire transformation, creative change, and purposeful living (similar to the “purpose-driven” movement), as well as living in a “revolutionary” way (means a drastic or rapid change). The following comes from their website:
- Kettering Adventist Health Care Innovation of the Year Award. (See this chapter’s section entitled “Honor of men.”)
- Vervent Innovative Church of the Year Award. (Vervent is the SDA NAD’s new Church Resource Center with innovative products and services, more specifically, resources emerging because of “felt needs” discovered through research with local church leaders.)
Someone on the Vervent forum mentioned how we should not call non-SDAs “lost” but call them “friends.” What does God’s Word say?
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
2 Corinthians 6:14
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?
Can two walk together, except they be agreed?
Christ Triumphant, p. 157
What carefulness should be exercised in the formation of friendship! Companionship with the world will surely lower the standard of religious principle. Solomon’s heathen wives turned away his heart from God. His finer sensibilities were blunted, and he became hardhearted, for he lost his sympathy for humankind and his love for God. His conscience was seared, and his rule became tyranny.
The Great Controversy (1888), pp. 508-509
When Christians choose the society of the ungodly and unbelieving, they expose themselves to temptation. Satan conceals himself from view, and stealthily draws his deceptive covering over their eyes. They cannot see that such company is calculated to do them harm; and while all the time assimilating to the world in character, words, and actions, they are becoming more and more blinded.
Conformity to worldly customs converts the church to the world; it never converts the world to Christ.
The Acts of the Apostles, p. 362
The minister who is a co-worker with Christ will have a deep sense of the sacredness of his work and of the toil and sacrifice required to perform it successfully. He does not study his own ease or convenience. He is forgetful of self. In his search for the lost sheep he does not realize that he himself is weary, cold, and hungry. He has but one object in view--the saving of the lost.
- One hour of college credit available through Washington Adventist University.
"Innovation" is not only in the Ohio Conference but has spread across the U.S. and worldwide.
- Author Book Signings
Each must ask whether the Great Author will be signing their book of life with these words: “. . . he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still.” Revelation 22:11.
The Great Controversy (1888), p. 557
The Book that is to judge him [Satan] and his followers he puts in the shade, just where he wants it....
- Kettering Adventist Healthcare contributed $3,000 as the “Innovation of the Year” award for meeting the following criteria:
- Missional impact as it relates to systems such as church policies, common practices, and social norms.
- Entrepreneurship relating to efficient use of internal and external resources to “make things happen,” and scanning for change and new opportunities.
- Aspiration and growth.
- Sustainability involving revenue and the missional aspirations over time with the ability to deal with challenges in a flexible manner.
- Some of the questions on the award application included the following information:
- What is new in the innovation that is different to how things have been done?
- How is the innovation making a profound change in the traditional system?
- What risks and obstacles were involved in the initiatives?
- Are there similar innovations elsewhere?
- Applications were to be emailed or mailed to the Ohio Conference of SDAs.
- The SDA NAD Church Resource Center contributed $2,000 plus travel expenses for a pastor and two laypeople as a “2010 CRC Innovative Church of the Year” award for meeting the following criteria:
- Due to a “changing society” the church took advantage of opportunities to do ministry in new ways.
- The initiative helped with membership growth, “spiritual growth” and contributed to the “target community.”
The innovation addresses some of the Natural Church Development (NCD) characteristics—an organization that supposedly improves quality in order to improve church growth and has reached 40,000 churches in 70 countries. It promotes emerging church ideas such as a book on the paradigm shift and discipleship resources, Bill Hybels and Willow Creek. NCD’s U.S. partner is ChurchSmart, which is promoted by SDA institutions such as Andrews University through a book by ChurchSmart Resources being required reading for a course entitled “Strategies for Church Growth.”
- The initiative offered the possibility of spreading to other churches.
- The pastor and two laypeople must attend the Partners in Innovation conference.
Applications were to be mailed to the NAD Church Resource Center at the SDA Church headquarters.
Below is a list of speakers for the 2010 Innovation conference.
- Alan Hirsch:
- Speaker topics: “Recalibrating the Church for the 21st Century: Part I –ReJesus, ReDisciple; Part II – ReMission, ReOrganize.”
- Adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, George Fox Seminary, and Wheaton College.
- Author of numerous books mostly on the subjects of missional thinking and discipleship.
- Barbara Bradley Hagerty:
- Speaker topic: “Is There Evidence for God? Dispatches from the Frontiers of Science.”
- Religion correspondent for National Public Radio.
- Reports on science, politics, culture, the intersection of faith, and law.
- Zdravko (Zack) Plantak:
- Speaker topic: “The Leaves are for the Healing of the Nations: Repairers of Broken Walls and Restorers of God’s Justice.”
- Washington Adventist University Theology Department chair and religion professor.
- Served as president of Adventist Society for Religious Studies.
- Lectured worldwide on theology and ethics.
- Authored The Silent Church: Human Rights and Adventist Social Ethics.
- Neil Cole:
- Speaker topic: “Church 3.0: Upgrades for the Future of the Church.”
- Founder and executive director of Church Multiplication Associates (movement of rapidly growing churches which meet at businesses, campuses, and homes worldwide).
- Travels to teach leaders how to develop these churches.
- Served in a smaller church as well as a megachurch.
- Author of many books.
- Samir Selmanovic:
- Ph.D. from Andrews University.
- Attended the Innovation conference in 2009.
- Ordained pastor and missional entrepreneur.
- Founder and co-leader of FaithHouse Manhattan (interfaith community of Christians, Jews, Muslims, humanists, and atheists “for the good of the world”).
- Served as teaching pastor at CrossWalk SDA Church in Redlands, California. It is a typical emerging church today, previously pastored by Morris Venden, and now promotes the wearing of jeans to church, gives permission to laugh at the jokes or videos, drinking coffee, the world’s movies and music, music festivals, competition, raffles, circus shows, mentions connectedness, creativity, and Communion as the Eucharist, suggests feeling and tasting their “Sabbath rhythms,” quotes C. S. Lewis, etc., yet listed in the NAD church directory.
- Authored the book, It’s Really All About God (dedication includes Roy Naden and Brian McLaren; acknowledgments include Raj Attiken, Ryan Bell, Tony Campolo, Jon Dybdahl, Lawrence Geraty, Fritz Guy, Kevin Kaiser, Julius Nam, Doug Pagitt, Jon Paulien, and Monte Sahlin). Early promoters of FaithHouse Manhattan also included Samuel Leonor (chaplain of La Sierra University) and Johnny Ramírez-Johnson (Professor of Religion, Psychology, & Culture, Loma Linda University).
- Helped to develop the emerging church through his work at Emergent Village and in the Re-church Network.
- States that to believe that God is limited to Christianity would be an attempt to manage God.
- Recent endorsements of FaithHouse Manhattan included a monk; the professor of Theology, World Religions and Culture at Union Theological Seminary; the director of Interfaith & Social Justice Initiatives at Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts; and the Humanist Chaplain of Harvard University.
- Leader of “Citylights,” a Christian community.
- Serves on the Interfaith Relations Commission of the United States National Council of Churches.
The online FaithHouse Manhattan announced their October 2010 event entitled “Living Room Samhain: A Season of Harvest, a Circle of Remembrance” with Temple of the Spiral Path. Samhain (pronounced Sow-en) is an ancient Celtic festival celebrated by modern neo-pagan witches. The article stated: “In the US, Wiccans have been an example of a ‘minority’ religion, often met with misunderstanding and at times with hostility. We want to learn about and from them and are welcoming them to Faith House!” They take comfort in the “closeness of the spirits of Nature, our Gods and Goddesses, and especially our Ancestors.” Temple of the Spiral Path represents the family of covens practicing witchcraft, exploring many aspects of Wicca, and anchors its tradition “within the rich tapestry of the Western Mystery Tradition.”
Why would someone with a Ph.D. from Andrews University be involved with witchcraft? That path is a downward spiral to spiritual death. What does God’s Word tell us about fellowshipping with witches?
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.
Why would God’s people want to “experience our neighbor’s faith,” as it states on the FaithHouse website?
Christ Triumphant, p. 157
When the Lord’s people turn from the God of all wisdom, and look to people who love not God, in order to obtain wisdom and arrive at decisions, the Lord will allow them to follow that wisdom that is not from above but from beneath.
The August 2006 Ministry magazine included an ad for the 2nd Annual National Conference on Innovation for October 2006 in Columbus, Ohio at the time the Kaiser family were presenters. It was announced to register in order to secure a spot and included conference contact information. It then included the speakers and topics:
Leland Kaiser, Ph.D, President, Kaiser Consulting: “Bottlenecks & Breakthroughs”; Leanne Kaiser Carlson, Co-founder, The Kaiser Institute: “How to Fund Innovation with Donor/Investor Partners”;Kevin Kaiser, Co-founder, The Kaiser Institute: “Spiritual Capacities of Innovation Leaders.” Also included was a recommendation by a 2005 participant who stated that it was the most relevant, practical and useful Adventist conference that they had ever attended. Sponsors mentioned were Partners In Innovation — The Ohio Conference of SDAs; The Kettering Medical Center Network; Office of Creative Ministries; the Columbia Union Conference of SDAs; The Kaiser Institute; Focus Physical Therapy, Inc.; and Versacare, Inc.
Some protested at the beginning of this movement, but it has continued and is growing worldwide. One example comes from Africa’s Ghana Union Conference of SDAs 2008 GUC News Digest, Issue No. 4, which featured an ad regarding Partners in Innovation. It stated that Raj Attiken (president of the Ohio Conference of SDAs and director for Mission & Strategy) is calling for a “culture of innovation” in worship and outreach in SDA churches in order to be effective and relevant. He is concerned that church members will become too self-absorbed in “protecting truth” and “preserving tradition” and will “slip further and further into inaction and irrelevancy.”
According to God’s Word, it is when we stop protecting truth and preserving the faith of our fathers, that we “slip further and further into inaction and irrelevancy.” Satan twists religion to resemble the opposite of what it is, yet it looks good from the outside and the majority are deceived.
Below is a description from the Innovation website about the 7th Annual National Conference on Innovation called, “Infusion: Where Faith Meets Innovation” to be held in October 2011 in Dayton, Ohio.
The conference will be a three day gathering for “hope-filled, faith-inspired individuals with an almost cellular drive for transformation, creative change, and purposeful living. The sharp, daring, and provocative explorations will expand your thinking, stretch your faith, and compel you to live out your values in a bold and revolutionary way.” Each year participants come from the U.S. and other countries, and a “nationally renowned team of presenters in the fields of faith, spirituality, culture, academia, business and global affairs” come together. This event is always rated by past attendees as “unique, best-in-class, and of high value for their personal and professional lives.”
The Center for Creative Ministry
This is a para-church ministry recognized by the SDA Church in North America and listed under Reconnecting Ministries. It supports local churches “in outreach and nurture ministries by providing resources, information, training, and consulting.” As can be seen in the examples below, it is all about emerging church programs.
- Promotes the 6th annual National Conference on Innovation (2010)
- Includes a quote by Leonard Sweet.
- The Q & A section includes a statement about how their “reach extends around the world, not only to Adventists but to people of all faith groups. On an ongoing basis we are doing research work with 40 faith groups and many other para-church organizations. We welcome and enjoy the collaboration.” What a sad witness to the other faith groups.
- The following words are included in their core values: Jesus; relevance; innovation; love; networking; fun; spirituality; and creativity—all “emerging” terms.
- Resources by Monte Sahlin (promotes spiritual formation; chair of Creative Ministry).
- Ryan Bell, pastor of Hollywood SDA Church in California, is a board member of Creative Ministry.
- Board members come from California, Washington state, Maryland, New York, Florida, and Ohio. Interestingly, those states include many of the progressive SDAs in the U.S.
- Included a photo of Paul Richardson, Director of Center for Creative Ministry, with Raj Attiken, a prominent supporter of the innovation conferences. The caption stated, “It was great to see Raj Attiken, conference president in Ohio, at a leadership conference in August, 2007. Ohio is a progressive professional environment these days due to Raj's leadership.”
Suggested having different types of reconnecting activities for inactive members, such as self-help seminars, small groups, sports leagues, service projects, and classic car rallies.
This innovation movement calls for the greatest alarm from faithful SDAs.
Emerging churches (SDA)
Early Writings, p. 125
God is displeased with us when we go to listen to error, without being obliged to go; for unless He sends us to those meetings where error is forced home to the people by the power of the will, He will not keep us. The angels cease their watchful care over us, and we are left to the buffetings of the enemy, to be darkened and weakened by him and the power of his evil angels; and the light around us becomes contaminated with the darkness.
I saw that we have no time to throw away in listening to fables. Our minds should not be thus diverted, but should be occupied with the present truth, and seeking wisdom that we may obtain a more thorough knowledge of our position, that with meekness we may be able to give a reason of our hope from the Scriptures. While false doctrines and dangerous errors are pressed upon the mind, it cannot be dwelling upon the truth which is to fit and prepare the house of Israel to stand in the day of the Lord.
Christ Triumphant, p. 362
A new order of things has come into the ministry. There is a desire to pattern after other churches, and simplicity and humility are almost unknown. The young ministers seek to be original, and to introduce new ideas and new plans for labor. Some open revival meetings, and by this means call large numbers into the church. But when the excitement is over, where are the converted ones? Repentance and confession of sin are not seen. The sinner is entreated to believe in Christ and accept Him, without regard to one’s past life of sin and rebellion. The heart is not broken. There is no contrition of soul. The supposed converted ones have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus....
The Lord desires His servants today to preach the old gospel doctrine, sorrow for sin, repentance, and confession.... Sinners must be labored for, perseveringly, earnestly, wisely, until they shall see that they are transgressors of God’s law, and shall exercise repentance toward God and faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ....
Listed below are just some of the SDA emerging churches that mix error with truth.
Burbank SDA Church, California
These two websites include the following information for the Burbank church’s 12 step Celebrate Recovery program held each Friday night. It begins with “food, fellowship, and fun.” Next are the large group testimonies and teaching, then the small groups for open sharing. It ends with a 9:00-10:00 p.m. program that meets at the Solid Rock Café to “socialize with group members over coffee and dessert.” Perhaps this church should provide a Celebrate Recovery program on overcoming the coffee-drinking habit.
Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 425
Tea and coffee drinking is a sin, an injurious indulgence, which, like other evils, injures the soul.
One of their blogs included a recovery program on a Friday night with Sheila Raye Charles (daughter of celebrity Ray Charles) who gave her testimony with her contemporary music and that of her father. A link was included to the “Celebrate Recovery Headquarters” at the Saddleback Church.
A November 5, 2007 announcement stated, “This Week at Burbank: A Purpose Driven Church” where the “un-churched may find a home.” According to the official Purpose Driven Church website with Rick Warren, the Burbank church has also been involved in the 40 Days of Community (a part of the Purpose Driven movement).
A February 2010 Pacific Union Recorder article included some of the community events held at this church. An outdoor “Family Fun Festival” occurred in September 2009 with an “outreach focus” that offered carnival-type games and prizes. At Halloween time, a “Christian magician show” was sponsored as a “safe alternative activity” along with handing out glow sticks (details follow). A neighbor said that when she visited the church she liked the feeling she got when no one minded that her kids were “being kids.”
Child Guidance, p. 540
The house of God is often desecrated, and the Sabbath violated by Sabbath-believers' children. In some cases they are even allowed to run about the house, play, talk, and manifest their evil tempers in the very meetings where the saints should worship God in the beauty of holiness. And the place that should be holy, and where a holy stillness should reign, and where there should be perfect order, neatness, and humility, is made to be a perfect Babylon, "confusion." This is enough to bring God's displeasure and shut His presence from our assemblies.
Pete McLeod (an SDA formerly with the Heritage Singers) was invited to perform a magic show, which included “magical mystical sticks.”
McLeod’s background includes 30 years of performing experience, with abilities in song writing, public speaking, magic, comedy, gymnastics, and a Masters Degree in Counseling. After describing a magic trick that he performs, McLeod ends by saying, “I take my bow to thunderous applause.” The following have invited and promoted McLeod: Dan Matthews (co-host of Lifestyle Magazine television show and pastor of Loma Linda University SDA Church); a principal from the Simi Valley SDA Academy; and a manager from Loma Linda University Medical Center. “Your school will scream with laughter” describes McLeod’s Christmas show. One of his contemporary Christian music albums won an Angel award for “Best Album of the Year.” He has also written a book entitled The Magical Journey. It includes 40 illustrated pages of magic tricks described as “secrets and mysteries,” the “secret code of magicians,” and tips on how to perform a magic show.
The Review and Herald, October 13, 1874
Professed Christians engage in feastings and in scenes of amusement which degrade the religion of Jesus Christ. It is impossible for those who find pleasure in church socials, festivals and numerous gatherings for pleasure, to have ardent love and sacred reverence for Jesus. His words of warning and instruction have not weight upon their minds.
The Bible Echo, October 8, 1894
Is it possible to have joy in obeying Christ? It is the only real joy that any soul can have. You may have what you call "a good time," and laugh and joke; but your joy will be only a foolish gratification of a mind that is not well balanced by the Spirit of God. Christ continued, "I have given them Thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." Do you expect that the world will love you when you go contrary to the customs and traditions of the world? Do you expect to be treated better than was the Master of the house?
The “Give & Take” section of the May 20, 2010 Adventist Review included a statement that it does not hurt to use a little biblical humor occasionally and featured a Bible joke. Actually, biblical humor does hurt us. More importantly, it hurts God, because it goes against His Word.
Counsels for the Church, p. 252
We should reverence God's word. For the printed volume we should show respect, never putting it to common uses, or handling it carelessly. And never should Scripture be quoted in a jest, or paraphrased to point a witty saying. "Every word of God is pure;" "as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times." Proverbs 30:5; Psalm 12:6.
Hollywood SDA Church, California
Ryan Bell is the senior pastor with a Master of Divinity degree from Andrews University, and he is currently pursuing his Doctor of Ministry at Fuller Theological Seminary. He writes articles on the missional church and suggests the liberal Spectrum magazine’s Sabbath School commentary as a resource for the adult Bible Study class on Sabbath. Worship services include drama, a contemporary band and casual dress, including jeans. Their worship team is one of the “most active ministries,” and their Hollywood Worship Band leads them in worship almost every week.
The congregation is advertised as being on a missional journey.
A video showed the church’s Ash Wednesday service in a darkened room with candles and incense burning, with the pastor placing a cross of ashes on the members’ foreheads. Ash Wednesday is observed at masses which are Eucharistic celebrations in the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church and by Protestants. It marks the first day of Lent in the Western Christian liturgical year and is a season of fasting, cleansing, and spiritual discipline.
This web page reveals how the Hollywood church celebrates the following seasons throughout the year: Advent, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. It stated that “from Advent until the Day of Pentecost we preach from the lectionary, and during Pentecost/Ordinary Time our services are more thematic and topical.” A lectionary is a reading, especially from the Bible. Notice the following resources:
- Emerging Word: A Creation Spirituality Lectionary: Scripture Readings and Commentary for the Church Year by Donald Schmidt.
- Story Lectionary: A Free Online Resource For the Emerging Church
- Calendar and Lectionary for 2011 with the liturgical year beginning on Advent Sunday 2010, and ending on the eve of Advent Sunday 2011.
- Revised Catholic Mass Lectionary, translated into many languages and incorporating existing or specially prepared translations of the Bible, with readings for national celebrations added as an appendix or incorporated into the main part of the lectionary.
Why this sudden need to use a lectionary? Emergents would answer that it is relevant for the postmodern culture of today. Will they use the same reasoning for giving up the Sabbath when Sunday laws arrive?
The Great Controversy (1888), p. 386
Says Howard Crosby: “...Christians are making a great deal of Lent and Easter and church ornamentation. It is the old trick of Satan. The Jewish church struck on that rock; the Romish church was wrecked on the same; and the Protestant is fast reaching the same doom.”
The Actors/Writers Workshop on Thursday nights in the Community Chapel is for “professionals in the field looking to improve their acting and writing abilities. Anyone that is looking to expand their writing, acting or directing abilities are more than welcome to come on out and have a good time with us!”
Community partners included Emergent Village and Allelon (a movement of missional leaders).
During “holy week,” the church invites anyone to “journey with Christ towards the cross with daily readings, and worship on Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.”
It was announced that on a Saturday a group conversation and lunch would be held hosted by their “Peace and Justice” organizer, who develops ways of getting involved in the neighborhood community. It is interesting to note that one website includes information on The Institute for Peace and Justice Education and the Summer School for Emerging Leaders in Conflict Prevention and Transformation, with workshops to support long-term peace.
...saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the LORD.
The Hollywood church is also proud to be the recipient of the 2010 Innovation of the Year Award and the Innovative Church of the Year Award.
An Adventist Review article included the following: “Loving Babylon--the first ever gathering of the re:church network-challenged both conference attendees and the church as whole to take on the adventure of mission to big cities.” The three-day conference included 60 participants from across the U.S., 15 volunteers from the local church, and 10 speakers. Ryan Bell was one of the conference organizers. Experienced church planter Ed Dickerson was given the re:church Issachar Award at the end of the conference. Bell explained that “re:church is a network of supporting friendships among missional leaders committed to transformation and the shaping of the Emerging Church. God is doing a new thing in our midst--that there is an Emerging Church that we are only just beginning to see. We believe that He is calling leaders to listen, challenge and form His church for a new generation.”
Evangelism, p. 512
When professing Christians reach the high standard which it is their privilege to reach, the simplicity of Christ will be maintained in all their worship. Forms and ceremonies and musical accomplishments are not the strength of the church. Yet these things have taken the place that God should have, even as they did in the worship of the Jews.
The Lord has revealed to me that when the heart is cleansed and sanctified, and the members of the church are partakers of the divine nature, a power will go forth from the church, who believe the truth, that will cause melody in the heart. Men and women will not then depend upon their instrumental music but on the power and grace of God, which will give fullness of joy. There is a work to be done in clearing away the rubbish which has been brought into the church.
Beltsville SDA Church, Maryland
The church’s pastor is Kermit Netteburg. Here is information from their November 2010 bulletin:
- A Christmas social included a vespers, then “Christmas goodies” and a Christmas movie with “fun for the whole family.”
- A Christmas silent auction hosted by Takoma Academy “TABoosters” in Maryland. Participants could buy tickets, sponsor the auction, or shop for “great gift items like luxury vacations, spa treatments, Redskins [football] tickets, and more.”
Another bulletin included these events: a Song Fest, Sermon Skit, Scripture Skit, puppets, and the “Beltsville Ballers” basketball teams playing at a middle school.
Sligo SDA Church, Takoma Park, Maryland
The senior pastor is Charles Tapp. The information below comes from their website.
- Promotion of Philip Yancey as well as the 12 step recovery/regeneration program.
- Kid’s church includes “lots of music, drama and stories.”
- Children’s Street Ministry, which presents a “radical example of Christianity in action” and includes puppetry, face painting, balloon sculpting, drama/mime, and clowning. The ministry goes into a community and “builds relationships while having fun and showing the love of Jesus in action.”
A true Christian will find it difficult to imagine Jesus approving of puppets, face painting, mimes, and clowning to build relationships and show His love in action.
The following comes from their December 2005 bulletin with the title “Sligo Sabbath Celebration: Third Week of Advent” and a sermon by Kermit Netteburg.
- Lighting of the Advent Candle
- An outreach and social day for the youth with a coffee and food drive where they would give away socks that were donated, then “food, fellowship, and fun” at the “ESPN Zone” (a sports bar and grill restaurant.)
- A reminder to sign up for the Washington Wizards game (basketball), an event open to all high-school youth.
- An announcement about Sligo’s “International Christmas Festival.”
- Walk Through Bethlehem: Jesus is our Hope interactive Christmas play at the General Conference of SDAs. Purchase of tickets required. http://www.bethlehemwalk.info
From a February 2007 bulletin:
- Puppet practice
- An announcement about Sheri Jackson receiving her music training at Oakwood College and the School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana, and that she was the 2006 winner of the Annapolis Opera Competition and was preparing for performances abroad.
Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 459-460
Many of the amusements popular in the world today, even with those who claim to be Christians, tend to the same end as did those of the heathen. There are indeed few among them that Satan does not turn to account in destroying souls. Through the drama he has worked for ages to excite passion and glorify vice. The opera, with its fascinating display and bewildering music, the masquerade, the dance, the card table, Satan employs to break down the barriers of principle and open the door to sensual indulgence. In every gathering for pleasure where pride is fostered or appetite indulged, where one is led to forget God and lose sight of eternal interests, there Satan is binding his chains about the soul.
Evangelism, p. 510
The long-drawn-out notes and the peculiar sounds common in operatic singing are not pleasing to the angels. They delight to hear the simple songs of praise sung in a natural tone. The songs in which every word is uttered clearly, in a musical tone, are the songs that they join us in singing. They take up the refrain that is sung from the heart with the spirit and the understanding.
From an August 2005 bulletin:
- An announcement about a “Hiding Place” meeting each Wednesday night in the Youth Room and that it is a “Christian ‘hangout’ spot for youth with live music, food, games, and fun.” They feature a different genre of music each week and that particular week they had a block party.
Campus Hill SDA Church, Loma Linda, California
This church promoted the following:
- Men’s 12 Step Group
Al-Anon Program – a Spanish 12-Step
Fridays: Celebrate Wholeness – “If you’re struggling with habits, hangups and hurts, a twelve-step program begins with a free light meal . . . praise music, testimonies, instruction and break-out sessions for men and women.”
- Folk music, pop guitar, drumming, and cultural dances.
- “Come and enjoy an evening of music with a young, talented octet from South Korea. The Golden Angels [contemporary music] are visiting our church after being featured at the SDA General Conference Session in Atlanta, GA.”
- This link shows a video of the November 21, 2009 church service with hula dancing: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RJXIWnbDuBU
- This link shows a video of their December 9, 2008 “The Majesty of Christmas” program with sheep on the platform and camels walking down the aisle:
Living Stones SDA Church, La Crescenta, California
This church’s “core values” include these typical emerging church terms: discipleship; fellowship; unity through diversity; authenticity; God matures us within community; cultural relevancy; innovative; creativity; praise; and a friendly and accepting environment. They explain that their church supports small groups “for the benefit and spiritual growth of its members” and recommend being a part of this “life-changing experience!” Details follow.
Following is information the church provided for their “holistic small groups” or “cell groups” taken from the “facilitators’ guide/Introduction to Crash Groups: Christianity at Work Through Community.” The reasoning behind this is that “the disciples were a support system to each other, even after Jesus ascended to heaven” and life to them was about “living together in the way that Jesus taught them to live.” Therefore, the hope is that through this system the “crash group” can achieve this too. Each group should consist of 6 to 12 people who meet weekly for 10 out of 12 weeks. The program consists of weekly gatherings, one-on-one fellowship, and working for the community. “Tools” are provided to make the program “as effective as possible.” The group is to be “like a family”; “confidentiality and reliability are crucial to the feeling of security for every member.” A system of “W’s” can be used to “guide the flow of the meeting”: welcome, word, worship, and witness.
The welcome is to be a time of fellowship, a time of getting to know each other. They are to get into pairs and ask one of the following two questions: “How are you doing . . . really?” or “What is the one question you don’t want me to ask you right now?” A new question is brought to the group of new pairs at the next meeting, such as finding out “everyone’s dream vacation destination.” Casual answers are not to be allowed. It is to be a time to “be real with each other,” talking about struggles and blessings, and “holding each other accountable in whatever way we might wish,” a time to “hear each other’s ‘life story.’ ” It is stressed that “confidentiality and complete acceptance of every person in the group is crucial.”
For the Word time, “the sky is the limit as far as what can be used.” Suggested ideas were to show a video; go to http://nooma.com (video website with Rob Bell, pastor of the non-SDA mega-church, Mars Hill Bible Church, in Michigan that promotes contemplative prayer and the emerging church; nooma comes from the word pneuma, meaning breath or spirit) or go to http://www.damah.com (a film festival website; damah means to imagine); read a chapter from a book “that has moved you”; study a challenging section of the Bible; or discuss a “different concept of God you have come across recently.”
Worship time ideas included: “Spend a significant time in silence,” “listen and meditate on a song playing on a stereo and how it relates to your walk with God”; or “try different prayer exercises, both modern and ancient,” such as http://www.sacredgateway.org (a place for online contemplative prayer with help from “modern Jesuit writers”) or the online prayer labyrinth at http://www.yfc.co.uk/labyrinth/online.html. It is an “online translation of the Cathedral Labyrinth created by London alternative worship groups Grace, LOPE, and Epicentre” and toured United Kingdom cathedrals from 2001-2003. Youth For Christ hosted the tour. The original is described as “an interactive installation for spiritual journeys.” It consisted of a pathway on the floor for visitors to follow. “During this journey participants pause and listen to a piece of music and a meditation. They also undertake some symbolic action or ritual.”
During the worship time, it was also suggested to “use any of the arts . . . to create a worship-type atmosphere” and that it may be necessary “to turn out all the lights so as not to have any distractions.”
The witness is a time to organize a trip and an outreach project. The trip can be “camping, going to an amusement park or museum, or anything that the group might be interested in” and “is best if it is at least an overnight stay.” In the past, groups “have been known to fly across the country or even visit other exotic destinations.” The outreach project should be something that “builds up the community” and “will be enjoyable for everyone.” At the end of the witness, “go around the room and ask this simple question to every person individually: ‘Are you willing to pay the price?’ ” This means that the Crash Group must be a high priority. “It isn’t some cult-like weirdness, but a sincere and thoughtful decision to love each other in the group no matter what the cost. An affirmation of this question is required for acceptance into the group.”
The ending of the weekly “gathering” should include prayer. “It may seem a bit silly at first, but it is important. This is best done while in a circle either holding hands or with your arms around each other.” Before leaving, “everyone must get a hug from each other.” It was also encouraged for members to “bring friends to come and hang out at the weekly gatherings.”
Comments by participants included:
- “Talking to guys going through the same things I was and having the same trials was really helpful.”
- “Crash groups have profoundly impacted my spiritual life. They have provided a place where I can be utterly honest with other people about my struggles, shortcomings, failures. . . .”
- “Crash Groups combine a laid back atmosphere with something deeper.”
The individual pairs “should meet with each other outside of the weekly gathering before the next meeting. It does not have to be anything serious, and can take as much time as just grabbing some coffee or lunch in the afternoon.” The group is supposed to be “trying to live life together as a family.” “Because of this dynamic only one weekly meeting will not typically work. So this gives a chance to pull together even tighter.”
The facilitator guide ends with “may your Crash Group be a process of life changing transformation. . . .” Below is a list of concerns regarding this type of meeting.
- The confidentiality factor, especially in the sharing of personal sins. This is very similar to confessing to a priest and is unbiblical, unless the person has been affected by that sin.
- Turning out the lights.
- Fun, travel, and amusement are stressed.
- Why would prayer “seem a bit silly”?
- The familiarity of physical contact as a “family” is stressed, such as holding hands, arms around each other, and hugging.
- The mention of meeting for coffee.
The Crash Group is named after Rob Bell’s “The Crash” and can be found at this website: http://www.atthecrash.com. The use of the word “crash” is quite appropriate. If their emerging beliefs are not repented of, they will “crash” and not survive to the kingdom, because of the Satanic deceptions. Yes, Crash Groups is a “cult-like weirdness.” It resembles the beginnings of a “secret society” and is the perfect “testing ground” to see who will fall for contemplative prayer, etc.
Here is a write-up on one of Rob Bell’s “noomah” videos called “Bullhorn”:
It begins with a “nerdy evangelist in a white shirt” who is “photocopying hellfire-and-brimstone tracts and packing up a bullhorn as he prepares to shout at people on street corners.” There is now a second preacher, “a very different kind of clergyman” who is sitting on a city street bench in a t-shirt and sandals. It is Rob Bell at 34 and looking “like that cool guy in Verizon ads with glasses and spiky hair,” pastor of “a hot new church for twenty somethings.” He talks “straight and fast about a loving kind of God who accepts everyone ‘just the way they are.’ ” As if addressing the “hellfire preacher,” he says: “Bullhorn guy, I don't think it's working. . . . I think it's making things worse. I don't think this is what Jesus had in mind.” The video ends with Bell saying “No, the whole point of Christianity is to experience God's love, to love one another and never to scare or threaten people.”
This is an example of not only disrespect and false theology but the beginning of persecution of faithful evangelists, just as the Spirit of Prophecy predicted many years ago.
Counsels for the Church, p. 356
The coming of Christ is nearer than when we first believed. The great controversy is nearing its end. The judgments of God are in the land. They speak in solemn warning, saying: "Be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh." Matthew 24:44.
But there are many, many in our churches who know little of the real meaning of the truth for this time. I appeal to them not to disregard the fulfilling of the signs of the times, which says so plainly that the end is near. Oh, how many who have not sought their souls' salvation will soon make the bitter lamentation: "The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved"!
Many other churches are doing the “holistic” small groups, including the Orangevale and Vallejo Central SDA Churches in California.
Miracle Temple Worship Center, Baltimore, Maryland
The Miracle Temple Worship Center falls under the emerging/charismatic church category. Below are some of its practices.
- Includes “Regeneration: 12-Step Recovery.”
- “Discipleship” classes are held for newly baptized members.
- The home page mentions “helping our members in becoming Kingdom People NOW.”
- Advertised as “one of the fastest growing Adventist churches in the Baltimore metropolitan area.”
- In 2005 Pastor Fredrick Russell (who serves as a columnist for the Adventist Review), initiated the First Annual Innovative Impact Pastor's Leadership Conference, bringing in pastors from around the world to Miracle Temple in order to learn how to “grow their local ministries.” The current pastor is Errol Stoddart. http://www.innovativeimpact.org
- Children’s Church: This is a new trend in which children are separated from their family during the worship service. This church’s program for children ages 4-11 is called “KidzSpace” and was advertised that the goal for the children was to “have fun while praising God!” The teachers share the gospel in a “refreshing and innovative manner.” It is a time of “high-energy, high-impact and brimming with activity.”
- Small Group Leadership Training: Includes “training and discipleship development,” which included a workshop on the subject of “Life Changing Small Groups” as well as Pastor Stoddart’s seminar topic “Destined Discipleship.”
- Total Praiz Dance Ministry: This ministry will be having Praise Dance rehearsals for children between the ages of 6-12 years every 1st and 3rd Sabbath of each month. At such a young age, the children are already being indoctrinated.
- Prayer meeting: It was stated that they have “truly seen miracles happen at these services.” They have “called on Jehovah Rapha and seen people healed.” Calling on God as Jehovah Jireh, they “have seen financial breakthroughs,” “addictions stopped and people who were imprisoned set free!”
This is a perfect example of the counterfeit latter rain—the work of the enemy.
Maranatha, p. 168
There will be conversions many, after a peculiar order, but they will not bear the divine signature. Immorality will come in, and extravagance, and many will make shipwreck of faith.
Why do SDA pastors long for what the world has? The SDA Church has been given the purest, richest truths and yet the leaders are not satisfied with it. They want something they believe is better. It is the typical case of the blind leading the blind. Because they cannot see the precipice ahead of them, they are going over the edge to perdition.
The Paulson Collection of Ellen G. White Letters, pp. 270-271
I would that all our people might see the inconsistency of those who profess to be God's commandment-keeping people, a peculiar people zealous of good works, thinking that they must copy after the world's pattern, in order to make their own successful. Our God is stronger than any human influence. If we will accept Him as our educator, if we will make Him our strength and righteousness, He will work in our behalf.
Prophets and Kings, p. 660
"They that forsake the law praise the wicked." Proverbs 28:4. When those who are uniting with the world, yet claiming great purity, plead for union with those who have ever been the opposers of the cause of truth, we should fear and shun them as decidedly as did Nehemiah. Such counsel is prompted by the enemy of all good. It is the speech of timeservers, and should be resisted as resolutely today as then. Whatever influence would tend to unsettle the faith of God's people in His guiding power, should be steadfastly withstood.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, pp. 210-211
In the time when His wrath shall go forth in judgments, these humble, devoted followers of Christ will be distinguished from the rest of the world by their soul anguish, which is expressed in lamentation and weeping, reproofs and warnings. While others try to throw a cloak over the existing evil, and excuse the great wickedness everywhere prevalent, those who have a zeal for God's honor and a love for souls will not hold their peace to obtain favor of any. Their righteous souls are vexed day by day with the unholy works and conversation of the unrighteous. They are powerless to stop the rushing torrent of iniquity, and hence they are filled with grief and alarm. They mourn before God to see religion despised in the very homes of those who have had great light. They lament and afflict their souls because pride, avarice, selfishness, and deception of almost every kind are in the church. The Spirit of God, which prompts to reproof, is trampled underfoot, while the servants of Satan triumph. God is dishonored, the truth made of none effect.
The class who do not feel grieved over their own spiritual declension, nor mourn over the sins of others, will be left without the seal of God. The Lord commissions His messengers, the men with slaughtering weapons in their hands: "Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary. Then they began at the ancient men which were before the house."
Here we see that the church--the Lord's sanctuary--was the first to feel the stroke of the wrath of God. The ancient men, those to whom God had given great light and who had stood as guardians of the spiritual interests of the people, had betrayed their trust.
- Harvest Festival Concert: Features Gerald Scott & Co., the Miracle Temple Community Mass Choir with liturgical dance and music and “giving our highest praises to our God!”
- “Turkey Roll Gospel Skating Party”: All were invited to the “ultimate gospel skating party” with the “hottest gospel music from top gospel artists.” It was stated that it would be a “praise-filled event!” and that they should eat their “turkey” then go “roll it off at the party!”
- The photo gallery for a Spring Retreat revealed a program teaching “Affirming Practices – Ideas from Jewish Sabbath Traditions,” which included information on a Friday evening “Blessing of Children” and a Saturday evening “Havdalah Ceremony.” A table included challah bread, a cup of “wine,” two candles, etc. Havdalah is the Jewish ceremony that marks the end of the Sabbath or a festival that includes the blessings over wine, candles, and spices. Challah is a loaf of leavened egg bread that is usually braided and eaten by Jews on Sabbath, holidays, and other ceremonies.
In the September 9, 2010 issue of the Adventist Review, Fredrick Russell writes an article entitled “We Have the Who, Now for the What,” in which he refers to a book by Jim Collins.
The book Faith Undone by Roger Oakland reveals that Collins “took a course by Michael Ray called Creativity in Business in 1982. The course (and the book named after the course) takes ‘much of its inspiration from Eastern philosophies, mysticism, and meditation techniques.’ The books talks about ‘your wisdom-keeper or spirit guide—an inner person who can be with you in life’ and says, ‘We meditate to unfold our inner being.’ The book also presents Tarot cards. Collins calls the course ‘profoundly life changing’ and says ‘[I] would not be where I am today, with the wonderful life I’ve been given, without that course.’ Collins was so inspired by Ray’s course that he wrote the foreword for Ray’s 2004 book, The Highest Goal. In that book, Ray tells readers to ‘practice emptying your mind,’ ‘experience not thinking,’ and ‘meditate regularly.’ Other quotes in the book include those of Eastern religion gurus such as Ram Dass, Jiddu Krishnamurti, and Swami Shantananda. Buford’s website not only carries an endorsement for Jim Collins but also a number of articles by or about those who promote mysticism as well.” Why would an SDA leader promote a book by someone who believes in Eastern mysticism?
In a 2005 Adventist Review article entitled “Sold Out to God,” Pastor Fredrick Russell was featured in an interview. At the time, he was the senior pastor of the Miracle Temple Worship Center. Currently he is the president for the Allegheny West Conference of SDAs and has started a company called the True North Leadership Group.
The Adventist Review article discussed how Russell wanted to change his midweek prayer service because “nothing was happening.” So he made a visit to the Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York City—a non-SDA charismatic church. He was impressed that there were 2,000 people in attendance at the prayer meeting. Since when is high attendance a true indicator that God is working? He stated that at a certain point, the prayer warriors “began to pray over the lives of the people in the audience” and “One brother prayed over me. He prayed things into my life that only God would know.”
A typical prayer service at Miracle Temple includes the following:
- The lights are lowered.
- Two screens are on with soft music playing.
- A praise and worship team “ushers you into the presence of God” for about 15 minutes.
- A pastor gives a “teaching word” for about 15 minutes.
- A period of about 25 minutes to share praise reports.
- After an offering and announcements, there is a time of intercessory prayer.
- Corporate prayer is offered.
- Ends with about an hour for people to pray while seated and listening to piped in music. This includes pastors standing up front so members can come up and mention personal things to the pastors. (This resembles confession to a priest.) Prayer warriors pray with people throughout the congregation. The pastor usually stays until 11:00 p.m. so that people can “continue in the presence of God.”
Russell recommended the following books:
- Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire (about the “Spirit”) by Jim Cymbala, senior pastor at Brooklyn Tabernacle.
- Any book written by E. M. Bounds (1835-1913), a Methodist minister; evangelist; revivalist; author; army chaplain; lawyer; a “teacher on prayer”; wrote "Power Through Prayer" and many other books on prayer.
- The God Chasers by Tommy Tenney, who writes on prayer but is a Charismatic into emotions and manifestations; believes that “God is everywhere in everything” (pantheism); promotes mystics; and downplays the Bible.
- Prayer Warriors by Ron Halvorsen, Sr., a retired SDA pastor and evangelist.
Atlanta Berean SDA Church, Georgia
This is another emerging/charismatic church. Carlton Byrd is the senior pastor and the new Associate Speaker/Director of the Breath of Life Television Ministry. He received a Master of Divinity Degree and the Doctor of Ministry Degree at Andrews University. The following points may sound impressive. However, while not all these may be a problem, when put together they raise concerns.
- Byrd’s honors and achievements:
- Received the 2007 “Chosen Pastor Award” for Atlanta’s Gospel Choice Awards, which recognizes the Atlanta area’s outstanding pastors for their “exceptional leadership and community involvement.”
- Named as a resident for the 2008 and 2009 “Who’s Who in Black Atlanta.”
- In 2008, he was inducted into the Martin Luther King Board of Preachers at Morehouse College in Atlanta.
- Served as a guest minister on TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network).
- Church attendance has doubled under his leadership.
- The worship services are called “Sabbath Celebration.”
- In 2009 the church was awarded a $5.2 million grant from HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) in order to build a Senior Citizens’ Housing Facility with 50 apartments.
Counsels on Health, p. 290
God calls for men whose hearts are as true as steel, and who will stand steadfast in integrity, undaunted by circumstances. He calls for men who will remain separate from the enemies of the truth. He calls for men who will not dare to resort to the arm of flesh by entering into partnership with worldlings in order to secure means for advancing His work--even for the building of institutions.
- Byrd encouraged the members to “pray for the power of God” and the “outpouring of God’s Spirit” on their church family.
- The church was named the NAD’s 2009 Innovative Church of the Year for the SDA Church.
- Byrd desires to lead others through an “innovative, seeker-sensitive, Christ-centered ministry.”
- During the 59th SDA General Conference Session in Atlanta, Georgia, the Berean church, along with Byrd and the minister of music, hosted the “Spring Into Praise Choir Festival,” which was Adventist-founded six years ago (www.SpringIntoPraise.org). Their mission statement includes the following: to bring together SDA music organizations such as ministers of music, choir directors and members, and praise teams/dancers; to facilitate each choir member to be part of a “first class mass choir” that covers “all music genres” enabling them to “better serve their local church”; to invest in “future musical greats” by providing scholarships to students who have “acumen for the arts.” Their graphic displayed a group with raised hands toward a dove in the sky and the words “Spring Into Praise,” which sends a charismatic message.
- During the General Conference Session, the Berean Invitational Basketball Tournament was held in the Berean Christian Junior Academy gymnasium. Participation included guest teams from across the country.
- “The Mark Thompson Show,” was a scheduled event for a Saturday night—a “Christian Fun Show for All Ages featuring Christian Ventriloquist, Mark Thompson.” He is advertised on his website as an international favorite, “doing silly things along with the puppets” while teaching about a God who loves them, as well as using contemporary music. The character cast includes a zany country disk jockey; a wacky hypochondriac bird; a crafty and mischievous young man; a very emotional younger sister; and the world's smallest trumpet playing tiger. His act is promoted as fast paced, entertaining with high energy, funny and hilarious with comedy and games. Topics include salvation and discipleship, and his programs include “Family Day Celebrations” and “Kids Day Celebration.”
The Voice in Speech and Song, p. 104
Christ did not employ illustrations that would create amusement and excite laughter.
In the instruction of the divine Teacher, there was no illustration used that would leave the least shadow upon the tablets of the soul. His words were of the purest and most elevated character. He never stooped to utter that which was comical, in order that He might attract an audience.
Community Praise Center SDA Church, Alexandria, Virginia
This church has over 1,000 members. Its website includes the following:
- Information for the “2nd Base Ministry” (sports term) with “events and structures to celebrate and serve” those beginning their “journey of discipleship.”
States that SDA worship styles differ greatly, that some churches are very formal, (sing hymns and anthems along with an organ or piano), others are “laid-back” and feature praise music with guitars or a small band, others are more “exuberant expressions of praise,” and that whatever the style, all SDA churches are worshiping the same God. Unfortunately, that statement comes from the General Conference of SDAs at this website: http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/neighbor/index.html. If a person studies and believes God’s instructions, he will understand that not all SDA churches are worshiping the same God. If a church worships against His Word, such as with Christian rock music or in a charismatic format, it is not the Creator of the universe that is being worshipped.
- Includes Ellington's Christian Café at the church with the purpose to provide a “Christian social venue for Christians” in that area, where “Christian artists (musicians, poets, dancers, mime, drama, comedy, and picture artists) can Reach-Out,” and “Reach-In to inspire, uplift and encourage the Body of Christ;” a 2008 ad for a café event: performances by Momentum award nominee, Alyce Metallo (contemporary gospel), Drew Davidsen (jazz guitarist), and recording artist from the church, Angela Bryant-Brown (contemporary praise music) with “great food and great fun” and ticket purchases up to $15 each. This type of event at an SDA church is patterned after other denominations.
- Provides a Youth Church twice a month, a Youth Prayer Meeting with Bible study and a movie clip “which sparks a vibrant rap session,” a Drama Team, Mentoring, Basketball, missionary trips abroad (including the Drama group traveling to Bermuda). The young people were invited to join the youth group as they “celebrate what it means to be a young Christian.” Sadly, most do not know what it means to be a Christian.
- Listed as the 2006 eChurch of the Year Winner.
It is disheartening to know that most churches in the Washington, D.C. area and beyond are very similar to this church.
City Temple SDA Church, Dallas, Texas
This church’s Young Adult Ministries includes gospel plays. The church also organized its first Junior Bible Bowl Team in 2004 and has won the Federation and Conference level championships since they began. The Bible Bowl now includes the Pathfinders organization, and an Adult Bible Bowl was started. A group of young men from the Ypsilanti SDA Church in Michigan performed a mime routine entitled “I’m a Warrior” at the City Temple SDA Church. http://www.religiousworks.tv/videos/426/dlj-mime
The Review and Herald, October 13, 1874
Should Christ come among the assembly who were absorbed in their plays and frivolous amusements, would the solemn melody of his voice be heard in benediction, saying, "Peace be to this house"? How would the Saviour of the world enjoy these scenes of gaiety and folly?
Grace Temple SDA Church, Ft. Worth, Texas
A “Champions in the Word” 2008 National Bible Bowl XXVI Junior Youth championship game was held in the “hallowed halls” of this church. The event was written in sports-announcing terminology, including the scoring. At the end of the game, applause continued as a tie was announced. The competition resumed, then a buzzer sounded at the finish, and the winner was announced. About 32 teams had come to Fort Worth, Texas to compete for the “coveted spot” as champions.
In 1979 a pastor and youth ministry director who became the conference president had desired a way to lift the spirituality of the youth and encourage them to study God’s Word, so “through the impress of the Holy Spirit,” he created the game. He moderated the final game of the adult division, and the photographer was the president of the Southwest Regional Conference. The photos displayed individuals with very large trophies and medallions. Learning the Bible is not about knowing the most trivia and turning it into a game. It is about following and sharing all its truth in preparation for Christ’s return. The games do not foster spirituality but rather a competitive spirit and encourage the addiction. We are only fooling ourselves if we say differently. Ballgame championships are bad enough, but when the Bible is cheapened in this way, it is appalling. Additionally, it is a desecration to hold a rivalry in a church sanctuary.
College View SDA Church, Lincoln, Nebraska
Their Young Adult Sabbath School class is called “Next ADVENTure” and is advertised as a Jesus-centered, lively and progressive Sabbath School.
Advertised events included:
- A concert by a non-SDA contemporary southern gospel quartet called “Forgiven” at a Baptist church worship hour on a Sunday.
- A concert by a non-SDA southern gospel group called “The Chosen Ones” at an SDA church on a Sabbath evening.
- An Adventure Club “registration party” for any who want to be a part of a “fun ministry” with “awards, cool stories and silly games”. . . “and we want to build our lives for Christ.” These two scenarios are far from having much in common with building lives for Christ.
Co-op City SDA Church, Bronx, New York
The following information comes from the bio section of the Yahweh’s People website done by Anthony DeMore, an elder at the Co-op City SDA Church.
- Revelation 14:6-8 (first and second angels’ messages) are quoted.
- Stated that Yahweh’s people (God’s people) are “preaching, teaching and taking the Gospel to the street, to every Nation, Kindred, Tongue and People with hard edge uncompromising Christ centered lyrics.”
- Explained that Brother DeMore is calling Christians to “stand-firm on the foundation of truth, which is Christ” in a time “when truth is called error and error is heralded as truth”; said that “just as the raw unwavering truth of Christ has always been controversial,” that his album “is sure to have heads buzzing,” that it is not for “the Christian who is faint of heart” but rather a “buzz saw of truth cutting deep into the spiritual marrow of all who will hear it”; ended by comparing it to “double-edged, Holy Spirit fire, warriors grab your sword (the Bible), Gospel hip-hop. It’s FIRE!!”
- His “resume”: 1) Preaching and teaching at the Co-op City SDA Church for about six years; 2) Before coming to Christ in 2000, founder and lead vocalist of a hip-hop, metal band called “AD”; 3) Toured Europe and recorded two CDs; 4) Is a public school teacher, poet, screenwriter, and an award-winning playwright.
- Advertised that his “arresting music immediately grabs you, and holds you with its power and urgency” and is delivered with “lyrical grit and old-school Christian fearlessness.”
- The biography ends with these words: “Yahweh’s People is life music, come out of the dark into God’s light music, that raw simplistic God is love-truth music, God can resurrect you-free the slave-break all chains music, God is coming back for every nation, kindred, tongue and people music. This is Holy-Spirit-God calling you to change music, this is music that once you hear it, you will want to see and hear the Brother preach and proclaim the Name of God like only he can, live and direct. Yahweh’s People… Our time is now. This is truly music with a message for the last days!”
The sad part of this is that rap “music” was already being promoted by the Adventist Review about 20 years ago. An SDA rap group was featured in a cover article that stated they were the SDA Church’s “best missionaries.”
Eight Mile Rock SDA Church, Bahamas
In August 2009 this church advertised its 1st Annual Talent Show. It stated that since all its church members had talent they could now “show it off.” The categories included: vocal, instrumental, and drama.
North Wembley Community SDA Church, United Kingdom
This church advertised the following events:
- A “Creative Community Worship” in the afternoon on the second Sunday of each month. It is a “relaxed atmosphere” with arts and crafts, refreshments, practical workshops and praise and worship. It stated “there is something for everyone in the family.”
- The pathfinders are “currently, in faith, taking drumming lessons and one of their goals is to represent the borough of Brent at the opening of the 2012 Olympics.”
- A “Community Fun Day” at a park that included football, cricket, and rap music. It was asked, “When was the last time you saw young Asian men from the community spontaneously rapping in front of a mixed audience of friends, family community members with Adventist onlookers, to rapturous applause?”
- “Church on the Street for Brixton: Drummers ready!” Those words started the Youth Day Brixton Drum Corps march through the streets followed by the children of the church and at times a large group from the community to “highlight the need to defeat drugs and knife crime and was encouraged by the Brixton police who have struck up a friendship with the Brixton Church.” Besides passing out tracks and booklets, the church members also mobilized their praise team to “sing songs that got everyone moving.” The audience chose their favorite songs and the members were “happy to oblige.” There were also individual singers and a mime group.
- The church plans to “take the message of salvation” to the community “by the grace of God” in “more profound ways in the future.” With what they have already done, true Christians can only imagine what “more profound” would entail.
- The Scottish mission delivered two “very powerful drama performances” at the 10th Trans-European Division Camporee in Finland. The second drama was performed on the “International Evening” and depicted salvation in a “creative and contemporary way.”
Avondale Memorial SDA Church, Australia
- One option for the Sabbath School group Bible study includes “De-Caf (for adults in a smaller, more informal setting).”
- Song Service includes contemporary Christian songs.
- Special Items can include a drama performance.
- Children's Church done for children by children twice a year is “interactive and engaging” and includes drama.
Collegedale SDA Church, Tennessee
This church uses the following programs:
- Celebrate Recovery, in which it was stated that the “guidelines maintain strict confidentiality to create a ‘safe place’ where you can take off the ‘mask’ and be real and honest without fear.” Confidentiality is a primary principle of the program, and when it comes to fallible human beings, confidentiality can be broken.
- Listed under the Spiritual Abilities Inventory was “Entertaining ability: to perform, act, speak, magic.”
- Group Life/GroupLink small groups with links to http://www.smallgroups.com through Christianity Today, which included, under their online Store section, Assessment Packs with these titles: Spiritual Formation in Small Groups; Christian Education and Spiritual Formation; and Spiritual Disciplines Assessment Pack. Another recommended website was http://www.touchusa.org, which included “The Spiritual Formation Backpack,” a complete set of discipleship resources, and the “Children's Spiritual Formation Bundle,” a “one-of-a-kind discipleship series for children grades 1-3.” It did not take long for the emerging church teaching to reach very young children. Under the Spiritual Formation (Discipleship) section was listed 12 books for adults, 9 for children, and 2 for youth.
- Andy Nash and his wife lead “Connect,” Collegedale Church's multi-generational, contemporary, informal worship service, where “music is a priority.” Nash also teaches journalism at Southern Adventist University (SAU). Connect has a weekly “Connect Arts” ministry that includes a girls’ worship-ballet for ages 4 to 11 and is taught by an SAU student. The Connect leadership team is implementing some new ideas. In a November 18, 2010 Adventist Review article, Nash described some of Connect’s “fresh approaches” to supplementing the preaching as follows: 1) For their Gospel of John series a member built an arch and etched a new name for Jesus each week, such as the Good Shepherd; 2) For the Philippians study they released balloons in the parking lot to symbolize their joy and freedom in Christ; 3) The Esther study ended with a Purim celebration, an Esther drama, Jewish dancing, and a Jewish potluck. Nash stated that “one struggling cook joked that she was going to buy a cake and write ‘Jewish’ on it.”
- The SonRise Resurrection Pageant is an “interactive, put-you-there-at-the-scene trip through Christ's final days leading to His death and resurrection.” The cast is composed of over 500 church members and SAU students. The Collegedale church has presented the “walk-through” pageant since 1996. It begins in the church sanctuary and continues across SAU’s campus on the Saturday of Easter weekend. “Casual dress and comfortable shoes are encouraged for the leisurely, less-than-a-mile walk.”
- The Collegedale Adventist Youth in Action (CAYA) is mostly about playing ballgames, such as volleyball tournaments, as well as picnics, outings, and community service. CAYA community study guide resources include these websites: http://group.com with Sunday school curriculum, small groups, leadership conferences, and retreats; http://www.simplyyouthministry.com with Sunday school curriculum, small groups, and discipleship. The CAYA soccer website advertised soccer as an activity they will use for the youth to achieve a spiritual, physical, and socially healthy environment for their kids. The website artwork included a drawing of Jesus playing soccer. It must be noted that God does not approve of such a drawing, since He does not approve of competitive sports. http://sites.google.com/site/cayasoccergocougars
Fresno Westside SDA Church, California
The Pacific Union Recorder featured an article about this church’s Sabbath morning activity in May 2010. The event was sponsored by West Care California and the Mayor’s Gang Prevention Initiative as well as the church. It was Fresno’s Safe Community Partnership Strategy Initiative and was entitled “Bringing Broken Neighborhoods Back to Life.” Pastor Earl Canson stated that “partnering with city officials, other denominations and community organizations allows our church members to reach out and heal.” While a praise band performed, “neighborhood residents explored the more than 30 health education and services booths.” Additions to the health fair offerings were give-a-ways of food and clothing; a prayer booth; Bible stories and other activities for the children; a small exhibit of the Old Testament Tabernacle; and “plenty of good hot food kept the neighbors coming.” They could also attend a “special” Sabbath school program inside the sanctuary. Canson gave a short message from the bandstand and, along with local church elders, laid hands on and prayed over the Fresno mayor and police chief.
It must be plainly stated that while it is good to “reach out and heal,” this activity was not only promoting ecumenism, but it was not the proper time. It made extra work on the Sabbath and was a distraction to the worship services, causing an irreverent atmosphere. If Jesus had walked past this scene, He surely would have said, “Take these things hence.” This is nothing more than a bribe to get the community into the sanctuary. What will the churches think of next to raise the membership figures?
Laying on of hands
The February 2010 Recorder stated that invitations were sent to the President of the United States and his cabinet, the U.S. Congress and Senate, governors, mayors, world leaders from every nation, etc. because they wanted to have the youth lay hands on them as well as pray for the leadership in order to impact the world. The quotes below reveal that the laying on of hands is only appropriate for those entering the gospel ministry.
1 Timothy 4:14
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
Presbytery: a body of elders in the Christian church; all the pastors of churches.
The Acts of the Apostles, p. 89
This advice was followed, and by prayer and the laying on of hands, seven chosen men were solemnly set apart for their duties as deacons.
Ibid., p. 110
God will send forth into His vineyard many who have not been dedicated to the ministry by the laying on of hands.
Ibid., p. 160
Before being sent forth as missionaries to the heathen world, these apostles were solemnly dedicated to God by fasting and prayer and the laying on of hands. Thus they were authorized by the church, not only to teach the truth, but to perform the rite of baptism and to organize churches, being invested with full ecclesiastical authority.
Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
Ecclesiastical: consecrated to the service of the church and the ministry of religion.
The Acts of the Apostles, p. 162
At a later date the rite of ordination by the laying on of hands was greatly abused; unwarrantable importance was attached to the act, as if a power came at once upon those who received such ordination, which immediately qualified them for any and all ministerial work. But in the setting apart of these two apostles, there is no record indicating that any virtue was imparted by the mere act of laying on of hands. There is only the simple record of their ordination and of the bearing that it had on their future work.
Counsels on Health, p. 540
The work of the true medical missionary is largely a spiritual work. It includes prayer and the laying on of hands; he therefore should be as sacredly set apart for his work as is the minister of the gospel.
Daughters of God, p. 102
Women who are willing to consecrate some of their time to the service of the Lord should be appointed to visit the sick, look after the young, and minister to the necessities of the poor. They should be set apart to this work by prayer and laying on of hands.
Forest Lake SDA Church, Apopka, Florida
This website is for the church’s collegiate and young adults. They are about “authenticity, devotion, passion.” Dany Hernandez, who is their pastor, stated “Here’s the deal with DEEPER . . .”
- We are “passionately seeking an encounter with God.”
- We call it a “Gathering.”
- We “don’t worry about what people are wearing” or the “color of their hair,” or “what you had for breakfast because after all, didn’t Jesus say ‘Come as you are?’ ”
- “The last thing you’ll notice is a group of people in desperate need of a savior.”
- “At DEEPER we take off our masks understanding that no one is perfect except God.”
Hernandez ends with the words “Encounter, Connect, Ignite.” When he prays and “preaches”, it is very casual. Theatrical skits are performed by the young adults. All these terms and activities are the perfect recipe for an emerging church. If the group at DEEPER are not in “need of a savior,” then the Savior cannot save them. If they do not believe that perfection can be attained in this life, then it will not happen for them. They have forgotten that with God all things are possible.
New Hope SDA Church, Fulton, Maryland
Here is part of the description for the church logo that is green in color: “ ‘Going green’ is to live and work in ways that protect and replenish the environment.” While we are to care for what God has given us, we must be careful not to get involved in the world’s New Age environmental philosophies.
“Restore” is a “young adult worship gathering that was birthed out of a GODencounters event” hosted at New Hope. “Many of the attendees and leaders from that event decided that gathering together for worship and fellowship on a regular basis seemed to be a worthwhile idea.” It includes “food and fellowship at Restore Café followed by inspirational Worship by Rick Anderson, Jr. and band and an inspirational message.” The announcement included a photo of a doughnut and coffee.
“Food, fun and fellowship for young adults.” This was an invitation for young adults to “come with food and leave with friends!” at Food Friendzy, which takes place after the Sabbath worship service at the home of a host.
New Hope stated that “the wind of the Spirit is stirring in the hearts of prayer intercessors and prayer leaders, who have stepped and are stepping out of the crowd.” Their prayer ministry includes Prayer Warriors who are “available to pray with you after our Saturday services” at the front of the auditorium.
Ignite is a “prayer meeting for kids and adults” and the place “where we journey to the very heart of God. This journey includes speaking God's Word, Testimony, Drama, Dance, Praise, Worship and other varieties of talent that God has blessed His people with. We believe that every prayer need can be answered with a revelation of God's love.” Contrary to their beliefs, drama, dance, and other displays of “talent” are not gifts of the Holy Spirit. Wednesday evenings “is your time to allow God to Ignite His presence in you.” A photo showed members participating in laying on of hands. Quite a few of the website photos included men and women wearing jewelry.
New Hope’s Visual Arts includes multi-media presentations that “play a large part in the worship experience” including song lyrics, sermon slides, announcements, “cool videos,” and dramatic lighting. The Worship and Creative Arts Ministry at this church is advertised as “the best place for you to use the gifts God has given you if you are an artisan.” They “minister” at weekend services and other key events through music, liturgical dance, video and drama. Their hope is to passionately work together to “enhance the worship experience at New Hope in a powerful and imaginative way.” Actually, they are degrading the worship experience, providing no hope of enhancement unless they do away with the drama and dance. They state that the purpose of New Hope Dance Restoration Ministry (NHDRM) is to “Praise and Exalt the name of our Lord Jesus Christ with the dance, and to make His praise Glorious.” Instead they are praising and exalting the name of Satan. They “desire to create an atmosphere that invites God’s presence” into their midst with their “joyful expressions of praise.” They are really creating an atmosphere that invites the presence of demons. They believe the praise and worship services are enhanced through their “bold movements inspired by the Spirit of God,” that it will teach “how to experience true praise and worship unto Him in the dance. It’s all about God!” God believes their worship services are degraded through their bold movements inspired by the spirit of Satan, that it teaches how to experience the praise and worship to the devil, and that it is all about the god of this world.
The ad concludes by summarizing that if individuals join the NHDRM, they can expect to grow in their relationship with God; find “new freedom in expressing meaningful praise and worship to God”; receive “continual revelation of God’s purpose for your praise expression in dancing”; receive a “spiritual breakthrough for yourself and others as your obedience allows the anointing of the Spirit of God to flow freely”; and receive “a new body as we continue in weekly dance rehearsals and a lifestyle of praise and worship unto the Lord.” A faithful SDA would conclude by summarizing that if individuals join the NHDRM, they can expect to grow less and less in their relationship with God; find a new bondage in praising and worshiping the devil; receive continual revelation of Satan’s purpose for their dancing; receive the world’s pain as their disobedience allows the anointing of Satan’s spirit; and receive a body that does not bring praise and worship to the true God—unless they repent.
The following are leaders at the New Hope church:
- Rajkumar Dixit is an associate pastor over Community Development and Administration at New Hope. He has been involved in Christian development and non-profit leadership for over ten years and spends much time “forging relationships with civic and community leaders.” Dixit also lectures and speaks frequently “on a wide range of topics related to leadership, church administration, worship, and branding” in religious and non-profit communities. He earned a doctoral degree with a concentration in leadership from the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. and authored the book Branded Faith. Among other ideas, the book instructs on how to change the image of your church from a negative focus, such as speaking against homosexuality, to a positive focus of how to help in different community projects. It is a dangerous idea to think that talking against sin is negative. If that is the case, then we must ignore the Bible. His book also includes a foreword by Brian McLaren. Following is a quote regarding Dixit by McLaren: “Rajkumar Dixit loves the church, and he's in it up to his elbows - pastoring, leading, studying, thinking. He has correctly identified one of the truly pivotal issues the church must face this century, and he writes with clarity and passion to help Christians, church leaders, and denominational leaders move wisely into action. ~Brian McLaren, activist, author”
- Ann Roda is responsible for families and children at New Hope. Her three goals in life are to first "be still and know God” (contemplative prayer?), the second to be “a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ,” and the third “to lose those last annoying 7 pounds.” Before entering Pastoral Ministry, she spent fifteen years in a corporate career. Roda loves to “hang out with her husband, bike, study history, travel, eat Thai food and sit with a hot cup of coffee surrounded by good folk and good conversation.” Her husband is a Chaplain Director with Adventist Health Care.
- Rick Anderson, Jr. is the pastor for Worship and Creative Arts. He grew up in a “solid Christian home where music was always an essential element of family worship. His parents, both Christian educators, led a Christian singing group at the High School they taught at and Rick grew up on the front row of their concerts, singing at the top of his lungs.” He studied Communication Technology and Religion at Southern Adventist University, and grew as a worship leader. After ministry at a church plant in San Francisco, Anderson came to New Hope “where he believes that God has big things in store.” He and his wife “love spending time with friends and family, exploring the outdoors, traveling to exciting places, and cheering for any pro sports team from New England!”
- Dave Gemmell is a pastor for Young Adults and is the Associate Director of the NAD Church Resource Center (CRC). His role at CRC is “to tell the story of healthy churches” in the NAD through seminars, web sites, online newsletters, DVDs, and film. He received a Bachelor in Theology from Pacific Union College and Ministry degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary and the Andrews University Theological Seminary. Gemmell pastored in the San Francisco Bay Area, Hawaii, and for the Las Vegas Mountain View Church. Two of his grown children are instrumentalists at New Hope. “In his spare time he dreams of kitesurfing.”
- Brian Wight, the Media Director and Producer at New Hope, “comes from a long line of ministers, educators and artists.” He studied Health and Fitness at La Sierra University, Kinesiology from California State University in Long Beach, and Spiritual and Pastoral Care at Loyola University (a Jesuit, Catholic University) in Maryland. Wight served as a chaplain at Washington Adventist Hospital, the Associate Producer for “Morning In America,” a syndicated political talk radio show, and was the On Air Radio Host for “Sounds of Contemporary Gospel,” a local gospel music segment for a Christian radio station. He has also worked in television and film, has been a teacher, and is the creator of Enhance Productions, a film production house “dedicated to Christian themed productions.” His other interest is sports.
- Timothy Nelson is a lay pastor and the Musicians Director. He has sung “for most of his life and has been a drummer for over 18 years.” He is the Dean of Men at Washington Adventist University, and is pursuing a Masters in Counseling Psychology.
It was advertised that this church is “exploding with growth.” Just like the megachurches? With all the above details on the leadership and activities at New Hope, this church is not following God’s plan for a church. Until the necessary changes are made, it would be appropriate to change its name to the No Hope Non-SDA Church.
Mountain View Church, Las Vegas, Nevada
The following is typical of an emerging church:
- Advertised as “A Seventh-day Adventist Community of Faith.”
- Mission: “To transform the unchurched into mature disciples of Jesus Christ”
- Newsletters which include:
- A section for joking and comic style artwork.
- A little encouragement and humor from C. S. Lewis.
- A movie review section for parents.
- Recommends the following website, which is ecumenical and promotes Christian rock music and comedy: http://www.realworldparents.com/starters.
- Wednesday Night Power Hour to study “The Journey.”
- An Alcoholic's Anonymous 12 Step Group
- Sabbath “Encounters” drama.
- Sabbath morning performance of Bible parables by a non-SDA professional actor and advertised as a “terrific ‘seeker friendly’ program.”
- A devotional from Faith That Works by Morris Venden.
- A candlelit communion service.
- A worship department that seeks individuals to fill the following positions:
- Drama team members “to bring stories and sermon illustrations to life.”
- Drummers who are “high-impact percussion musicians” as part of a praise music worship team.
- Lighting technicians to “set the moods for worship.”
- Stage managers to help “create pleasing stage arrangements for worship and other services.”
Regarding his church, the pastor stated that he wants each member to be “saturated with the Holy Spirit and on fire for allowing ourselves and our church to be tools in God's hands to do His work.” He will be waiting a lifetime unless he and his members repent of the apostasy, because the Holy Spirit will not come under the present condition.
Pioneer Memorial SDA Church, Michigan
This is the Andrews University campus church with Dwight Nelson as the senior pastor. Notice the following practices and events and ask yourself if this is one reason the university is in spiritual trouble. If you are a true SDA Christian, you will answer with a yes.
Andrews University Campus Ministries Radio (CMRadio) plays modern praise songs and Christian rock music.
A bulletin announcement included information on a Couples Agape Celebration.
The “Different Ways to Pray” section under “Leader Resources” has listed “Prayer Models for Small Groups” where these suggestions were given.
- “Popcorn prayer”: “Begins with tiny seed words and thoughts that gradually expand and bounce off others, exploding in prayer and praise until the burst subsides and the room is full of God’s presence. This prayer, as opposed to ‘sentence prayer’ or ‘conversation prayer’ uses only single words, names or short phrases. Prayers can ascend in any order, and even be overlapped.”
- “Learning to Be Silent”: “Silence in our lives isn’t always peaceful; silence can be frightening” as quoted by Henri Nouwen.
- “Touch and Agree”: “Touch, as a physical act, is well-documented for its soothing and healing properties. When you touch and agree, you surround someone in your group who has a special need, or is about to embark on a special mission. Pray for them while resting hands on their shoulders and head. It’s a tangible symbol that you all agree in asking God to be with them in a special way.” Again, we see here a charismatic activity that belittles the act of laying on of hands. That act is to be reserved for ordaining deacons, deaconesses, elders, pastors, medical missionaries, and Bible workers. Nowhere in the Bible or Spirit of Prophecy is it used in any other way.
- Prayer Walking: It was stated that prayer walking could be done with a group in a “very natural setting, stopping at various places for prayer and reflection” or “done around a campus or in town pausing at different places for prayers of intercession.”
- Lectio Divina: This is a very ancient method of praying and meditating over Scripture. It can be used very effectively in groups. The emphasis is on hearing God’s voice speak to you through His Word.
Whatever happened to the good old-fashioned “get on your knees” type of prayer? Has that become boring to the “postmodern culture”? If so, their spirituality needs to be re-examined.
“Small Group Values” included these emerging terms.
- Openness: to be “authentic in relationships, sharing our feelings, struggles, joys and hurts.”
- Safety and Confidentiality: to “keep in confidence what is said in the group.”
- Evangelism: to “expand the community of believers.”
- Multiplication: “To see more people connected in Christian community, growing in relationship with Christ.”
Relationships are being stressed here, which are important. However, we must remember that this is also seen as the third stage of the “sacred path” in the prayer labyrinth. In regard to the confidentiality, we must point out again that we are to trust only in Christ, not man.
The “Spiritual Body Building” section under “Leader Resources” has a “Nine Dots” exercise in which it is stated that it illustrates the need for “new solutions to old problems,” that sometimes we need to “think outside” our “current framework to find better solutions,” to “break out of the walls of our mental box to find God’s answers in today’s challenges.” It concludes by saying that “to implement God’s vision for church we will also have to overcome some of our preconceived ideas of ‘how to be church.’ ” This is an “out of the box” scenario with a desire to give up traditional methods of church worship services, etc.
Southeast SDA Church, Cleveland, Ohio
Features from this church have included:
- Concerts with contemporary gospel recording artists and Grammy award winners.
- Ecumenical meetings with those of other religions.
- The “Creative Movement Ministry” that uses “creative movement to encourage and fulfill a worship experience that exemplifies love, expresses gratitude and joy,” and glorifies God through “expressive movements.”
- An April 2009 Southeast Spirit newsletter advertisement of a massage therapist who also does reflexology, polarity, and Reiki.
Glenvale SDA Church, Australia
This church includes singing of contemporary Christian songs as well as drama performances. Also there are links provided for “Christian satellite TV channels,” which are an ecumenical blend of interfaith networks as follows:
- EWTN Global Catholic Network.
- Focus on the Family, whose founder is James Dobson, possibly the most influential Christian leader in the U.S. He is an evangelical author and psychologist. No longer with Focus on the Family, he now has a radio broadcast, “Family Talk with Dr. James Dobson.”
- The Apostolic Oneness Network, founded by the Christ Apostolic Temple, Inc. Fellowship (CATIF).
- JCTV Christian youth network, with music video countdown shows, interviews with top artists, and today’s top concert performances and festivals. Also included are action sports, award shows, movies, variety shows, reality series, comedy shows, talk shows, and more.
- The Church Channel, a multi-denominational religious network.
- The God Channel, whose vision statement is to “present world class anointed, prophetic, supernatural content . . . reconciling man, woman and child with God by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Just the name alone of the channel is blasphemous. God’s name is being used today as if it was trivial.
- Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), advertised as the most watched faith channel in the U.S. and the world’s largest religious network that appeals to a variety of Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant denominations. Programs include testimonials from famous celebrities, sports figures, and ministers, exciting movies, contemporary Christian music. For teens and young adults, it’s anything from “muscle men to hot music videos . . . Christian programming that speaks their language.”
Daystar Television Network, “with an extensive blend of interdenominational and multi-cultural programming.” http://glenvale.adventist.org.au/christian-tv
It would be better to not provide any satellite channels than to include those that teach untruths and the world’s ways. This is a sad example coming from an SDA church.
Coastlife Adventist Church, Australia
A sample worship service topic at this church was entitled “Core Values – Relevance, Authenticity.”
The goal at Coastlife is to “help every person find their place in God’s service, whether it is cutting sandwiches at the Family Fun Days or playing guitar in one of our worship bands.” So what is wrong with their Family Fun Days? The answer is in this ad:
Saturday, July 10, 2010 at 1pm to 3pm
Family fun day – free ball games, jumping castle and face painting is being provided by the Coastlife Adventist Church.
This was held at a local park and repeated again on Saturday, January 8, 2011.
Child Guidance, pp. 533-534
Parents, above everything take care of your children upon the Sabbath. Do not suffer them to violate God's holy day by playing in the house or out-of-doors. You may just as well break the Sabbath yourselves as to let your children do it, and when you suffer your children to wander about and suffer them to play upon the Sabbath, God looks upon you as Sabbathbreakers.
The parents may take their children outdoors to view God in nature. They can be pointed to the blooming flowers and the opening buds, the lofty trees and beautiful spires of grass, and taught that God made all these in six days and rested on the seventh day and hallowed it. Thus the parents may bind up their lessons of instruction to their children, so that when these children look upon the things of nature, they will call to mind the great Creator of them all. Their thoughts will be carried up to nature's God-- back to the creation of our world, when the foundation of the Sabbath was laid, and all the sons of God shouted for joy. Such are the lessons to be impressed on the minds of our children.
We are not to teach our children that they must not be happy on the Sabbath, that it is wrong to walk out-of-doors. Oh, no. Christ led His disciples out by the lakeside on the Sabbath day and taught them. His sermons on the Sabbath were not always preached within enclosed walls.
Other church announcements included the following:
- “A revolution is a fundamental change in power or organizational structures that takes place in a relatively short period of time. We all need a revolution in our lives from time to time – a changing of old ways, a turning around to face God again, a line in the sand. Revolution is a week of spiritual transformation that takes place each year at Coastlife.” This year Revolution will feature Eddie Hypolite from England and “whether it’s upbeat worship, food and friends or challenging messages, Revolution promises to change your life.” Revolution will then “finish with a bang on Saturday night with a party and Barn Dance with Peter Dixon (blues and classic rock music). If the 300 people at the Barn Dance last year were anything to go by, it’s a night not to be missed. Come along to Revolution this year and be prepared to grow out of sight!”
- “Superhero Day” was the title of a Kids Church, which included music and puppets. A thank you was given to those who invested in the “spiritual development of our kids!”
According to God’s plan for church worship and Sabbath-keeping, the spirituality at Coastlife is at an all time low.
Escondido SDA Church, California
This church advertises “You don't have to dress up. Just come as you are.”
It is also very active with ecumenical community outreach projects, such as the following:
- “A Christmas-time outreach displaying a live scene of Bethlehem,” partnering with the Methodist Church “by providing actors, greeters and snacks. Over 1,200 visitors take the tour each year.”
- “Each spring our church joins with other churches and agencies in a walk to raise awareness and needed funds for those suffering from hunger and poverty world-wide.”
- Partners with youth leaders from the Methodist and Episcopal churches to “provide a community Easter Sunrise Service, weekly summer beach days, Back-to-School BBQ and Thanksgiving weekend celebration (including Can Hunger! food drive).”
- “We have also participated in such events as block parties. . . .”
- “Interfaith Community Services (ICS) – We partner with over 400 other faith groups through one central agency to provide basic needs to those regaining self-sufficiency.”
- “Our church and academy serves a public school specifically for homeless children in San Diego.”
- “Our church participates with other faith groups and the City of Escondido in a prayer event at City Hall on the designated Day of Prayer in May each year.”
- “Summer Student Internship”: A 6 to 8 week discipleship training program for high school and college youth; includes a prayer tour in Los Angeles. . . .
- . . . and much more.
While it is commendable to help those in the community, would it not be better for SDA churches to conduct their own programs rather than unite with those of other religions, which causes ecumenical problems and lack of accountability?
There is a trend today in the SDA churches to be zealous in feeding the homeless on the streets, yet ignoring their own SDA church members. We can only conclude that it is because those who practice this trend are either ignorant of their priorities or are seeking to gather recognition with the world, to say, “Look what I’m doing!” Should we not help our worthy members first before helping those on the street who do not care about spiritual matters, but are simply looking for a handout? Yes, we are to feed the hungry, but we are also expected to use common sense in the process. We cannot afford to focus more on feeding stomachs than on feeding spiritually.
As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Our Father Cares, p. 54
In a special sense Christ has laid upon His church the duty of caring for the needy among its own members. He suffers His poor to be in the borders of every church. They are always to be among us, and He places upon the members of the church a personal responsibility to care for them. As the members of a true family care for one another, ministering to the sick, supporting the weak, teaching the ignorant, training the inexperienced, so is the “household of faith” to care for its needy and helpless ones.
It is the duty of each church to make careful, judicious arrangements for the care of its poor and sick.
Any neglect on the part of those who claim to be followers of Christ, a failure to relieve the necessities of a brother or a sister who is bearing the yoke of poverty and oppression, is registered in the books of heaven as shown to Christ in the person of His saints.
Ye Shall Receive Power, p. 82
What a reckoning the Lord will have with many, very many, who present the words of Christ to others but fail to manifest tender sympathy and regard for a brother in the faith who is less fortunate and successful than themselves.
Many will allow a brother to struggle along unaided under adverse circumstances, and in thus doing they give to one precious soul the impression that they are thus representing Christ. It is no such thing; Jesus, who was rich, for our sake became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich. That He might save the sinner, He withheld not His own life. The heart of Christ is ever touched with human woe.
Welfare Ministry, p. 105
Wherever the truth has been proclaimed and people have been awakened and converted, the believers are at once to unite in exercises of charity.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, p. 550
Should our whole attention be directed to relieving the wants of the poor, God's cause would be neglected. Neither will suffer if His stewards do their duty, but the cause of Christ should come first.
For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
Counsels on Diet and Foods, p. 102
What you need is less temporal food and much more spiritual food, more of the bread of life.
Education, p. 150
Genius, talent, sympathy, even generous and kindly deeds, may thus become decoys of Satan to entice souls over the precipice of ruin.
There is also a new trend in the SDA organization to be more community service oriented. While we are to reach out to our communities and be of service, we wonder why the following underlined words are used by Adventist Community Services International (ACSI), which is under the Sabbath School and Personal Ministries (SSPM) Department of the General Conference of SDAs.
This website stated that ACSI “promotes an incarnational ministry that well represents Jesus’ method of proclaiming the Gospel.” Its vision is that every SDA church be a “transforming agent in its community, following the method of Jesus to bring help and hope through ministries of compassion in His name (see Luke 4:16-21; MH 143).”
Those statements remind us of information gleaned from the following website.
- The word “incarnational” is heard in most denominations and postmodern churches. “It’s at the heart of the new, experiential form of Christianity -- the transformative movement attempting to unify the world under the banner of the evolving ‘Church.’ ”
- It fits into Rick Warren’s worldwide P.E.A.C.E. Plan and Brian McLaren's Kingdom of God.
- “The new emphasis is primarily on collective experience and unifying community service. To avoid conflict, the true gospel -- including the ‘offense of the cross’ -- must be banned along with other divisive Scriptures.”
- According to Jim Montgomery from the movement, DAWN (Discipling a Whole Nation), the Lord seemed to be telling him, “See to it that I, the Lord, truly become incarnate, as you have been suggesting, in every small group of people on the earth.”
- The beginning workbook for the Renovaré Spiritual Formation Groups is based on these six major dimensions: Contemplative (The Prayer-Filled Life); Holiness (The Virtuous Life); Charismatic (The Spirit-Empowered Life); Social Justice (The Compassionate Life); Evangelical (The Word-Centered Life); and Incarnational (The Sacramental Life).
- The following statement by Leonard Sweet was in response to why he has stated that the church needs to use pop culture as a way to share the gospel: “Because it's the Roman road; it's the road people are traveling on; it's the dominant global culture. For the church not to speak to pop culture, not to use images that come from it and sounds that come from it, smells that come from it, well ... that's not being very incarnational ... In order to incarnate Christ into the culture that is there, then we have to look to redeem pop culture.”
Adventist Urban Congress
This NAD-sponsored congress was held at Oakwood College in Alabama on July 22-27, 2007. It was the “first major gathering in NAD in more than 100 years to be focused on the needs of urban communities.” The theme was “Transforming the City: Urban Ministry in the New Millennium.” It was also open to people of all religions. About 200 “urban practitioners” in the NAD and beyond attended the congress. It was cosponsored by the Bradford-Cleveland-Brooks Institute for Continuing Education in Ministry, Oakwood College, Columbia Union College, NAD Evangelism Institute, Philanthropic Services for Institutions, Ministerial Association, and Adventist Community Services. Speakers included Ron Sider, well-known advocate for the poor and professor at Eastern University in Pennsylvania; Barry Black; E. E. Cleveland; Charles Bradford; Gaspar Colon, Washington Adventist University (WAU) Dean of the School of Arts and Social Sciences, professor of Theology, and director of the Center for Metropolitan Ministry at WAU; Monte Sahlin; Zdravko Plantak; more than 40 pastors from the Allegheny East Conference; and others. The event included workshops in “program development, networking, partnerships, fund raising, wholistic ministry, public policy and social justice theology.”
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 4, pp. 551-552
It was not the purpose of God that poverty should ever leave the world. The ranks of society were never to be equalized, for the diversity of condition which characterizes our race is one of the means by which God has designed to prove and develop character. Many have urged with great enthusiasm that all men should have an equal share in the temporal blessings of God, but this was not the purpose of the Creator. Christ has said that we shall have the poor always with us. The poor, as well as the rich, are the purchase of His blood; and among His professed followers, in most cases, the former serve Him with singleness of purpose, while the latter are constantly fastening their affections on their earthly treasures, and Christ is forgotten. The cares of this life and the greed for riches eclipse the glory of the eternal world. It would be the greatest misfortune that has ever befallen mankind if all were to be placed upon an equality in worldly possessions.
The NAD sponsored the second urban congress on August 30-September 2, 2009 at the Dallas First Adventist Church in Texas. While it is good to help the poor, the advocates of this congress are headed in the wrong direction. Have they not learned from history what happens when people get involved in social justice with the world?
Below is a list of SDA institutions and denominational leaders, with their past or present positions, who were or are supportive of spiritual formation. (This is not a complete list.)
- Nikolaus Satelmajer: Associate Secretary, General Conference Ministerial Association; past editor of Ministry magazine.
- Jon Dybdahl:
- Earned a bachelor's degree in theology from Pacific Union College in 1965; earned a master's degree in systematic theology and a master of divinity degree from Andrews University; in 1981, completed a doctorate in Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary.
- A pastor, evangelist, theology professor, college administrator, and author of Hunger: Satisfying the Longing of Your Soul. This book was advertised in the January 2011 Adventist World Revival and Reformation resources section, page 21.
- Past president of Walla Walla College.
- At Andrews University (AU): a professor of world mission and involved in the training of ministers worldwide, holding the position of a pastoral practitioner in the Doctor of Ministry concentration entitled “Discipleship & Spiritual Formation,” teaching “CHMN 705 Theological and Historical Perspectives on Spiritual Growth.”
- Martin Feldbush: Adventist Chaplaincy Ministries (ACM) director, pastor, religion teacher, healthcare chaplain, chaplain with Association of Professional Chaplains.
- O. Jane Thayer: Associate Professor of Religious Education as well as professor and pastoral practitioner of “Discipleship & Spiritual Formation” at AU.
- Roger Dudley: Professor emeritus of Christian Ministry and director of the Institute of Church Ministry, Andrews University; Director, Adventist Information Ministry.
- John Jenson: Pastors the South Bay-Redondo Adventist Church in Torrance, California, which includes traditional and contemporary worship services; beach party/worships; a website that has a link for reviews of new eGames which promote violence, magic gems, other gods, possible ancestor worship, rude humor, sexual themes, strong language, fantasy magic, occult, witches, gambling, and alcohol.
- Jerry Moon: Associate Professor and Chair, Church History Department at AU; Editor, Andrews University Seminary Studies; teacher of Spiritual Formation Practicum course at AU.
- Susan Zork: Professor of Religion at AU; currently taking course work toward a Ph.D. in Theological Curriculum and Spiritual Formation; attended the Renovaré International Conference “The With-God Life; The Dynamics of Scripture for Christian Transformation”; Denver, Colorado, June 2005.
- Winston Ferris: Adjunct Professor, Religious Education & Spiritual Formation at AU.
- Delcy Kuhlman: Adjunct Professor, Spiritual Formation at AU.
- Derek Morris: Adjunct Professor, Spiritual Formation, Andrews University and Southern Adventist University; pastored at Forest Lake SDA Church in Florida; authored The Radical Prayer and The Radical Teachings of Jesus; new editor of Ministry magazine.
- Steve Case:
- Taught “CHMN 720 Current Issues in Youth and Young Adult Ministry” at AU.
- An author and international speaker to youth and youth leaders; has been a youth pastor and seminary professor.
- Writes a column for Insight magazine.
- President of Involve Youth; spoke at 2009 Youth Leadership Development Summit in which the program schedule included a quote by Lao Tzu, a Chinese Taoist philosopher and the father of Taoism.
- Promotes these youth activities: rap music, skits, familiarity with the opposite sex, sports and competition, tournaments, senseless games, amusement parks, joking, downplaying the health message, prayer walks, and small group solitude.
- Randal Wisbey: President, La Sierra University (first director of Center for Youth Evangelism).
- Monte Sahlin:
- Ordained pastor having served in small and large congregations.
- Currently serving as Director of Research & Special Projects at the Ohio Conference of SDAs.
- Professor and pastoral practitioner for “Discipleship & Spiritual Formation” at AU.
- A senior consultant at the Center for Creative Ministry.
- Chairman of the board for the Center for Metropolitan Ministry at Washington Adventist University.
- Served at the General Conference of SDAs in church ministries, media projects, social needs and issues, research and development, and as a regional vice president.
- A prolific author of books and articles.
- Worked as director, board chairman or strategic consultant of more than 100 “innovative, community-based” ministries, church plants and nonprofit organizations.
- An adjunct faculty member at the Campolo Graduate School at Eastern University in Pennsylvania; on the steering committee of the Cooperative Congregational Studies Partnership.
- Awarded an Outstanding Public Service Award by the U.S. government; participated in the Presidents' Summit on Volunteerism as well as the preparatory gathering of 50 representatives of the nonprofit sector at the White House.
- Allan Walshe: Taught “The Personal Practice of Spiritual Formation” and “CHMN 720 Current Issues in Youth and Young Adult Ministry” at AU; past president of New Zealand Pacific Union Conference of SDAs; served as director of family ministries for the South Queensland SDA Conference.
- Bill Knott: Editor and executive publisher of the Adventist Review and Adventist World and served as associate editor; pastored in both small and large churches; speaks at conventions, conferences, retreats and camp meetings worldwide; professor and pastoral practitioner of “Discipleship & Spiritual Formation” at AU.
- Kenley Hall: Adjunct professor of Research and Writing at AU; listed as a possible speaker on “Discipleship & Spiritual Formation” at AU in 2011.
- A. Allan Martin: An author; professor and pastoral practitioner of “Discipleship & Spiritual Formation” at AU; sponsored participants for the 2010 IMPACT Atlanta; curriculum coach for GODencounters; promotes drama and humorous speakers, the George Barna Group, and other emerging church resources for youth.
- Joseph Kidder: Professor and pastoral practitioner of “Discipleship & Spiritual Formation” at AU.
In Kidder’s class, required reading includes The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard. Full participation is required in a one-day Spiritual Retreat in order to “introduce students to the value of spiritual retreats, discipleships, small groups, and bonding with like-minded spiritual pilgrims.” Three hours each week is to be spent in the Practice of Spiritual Disciplines. Kidder travels worldwide to give seminars and train pastors, leaders, and members in spirituality, evangelism, church growth, and leadership.
- Richard Davidson: Professor and pastoral practitioner of “Discipleship & Spiritual Formation” at AU; authored dozens of articles for theological journals; chaired the Old Testament department at AU; former president of the Adventist Theological Society.
- Heather Crews: Serves as Pastor for Church Life at Keene SDA Church in Texas; currently pursuing Doctorate of Ministry in Leadership and Spiritual Formation through George Fox Evangelical Seminary; served as an Associate Pastor before attending AU for her Master of Divinity; pastored two churches with ministry focus on lifestyle evangelism, worship and spiritual formation; hobbies include reading everything from literature to theological treatises and training in karate; states that her “burning passion is to make Christianity relevant inside the current culture.” http://www.keenechurch.com/index/pastors
- Duane Covrig: Professor of Leadership and Educational Administration as well as religion and ethics at AU; gathered resources for Partners in Innovation conferences; taught in educational leadership at the University of Akron, Ohio; taught religion at Loma Linda University (LLU); researcher at LLU and the University of California, Riverside.
- Yat Ang: Member of 2005 In-Residence Cohort for Global Mission Leadership (for doctor of ministry at Andrews University); gathered resources for Partners in Innovation conferences while in the leadership program at AU.
- Carol Tasker:
- While at AU, attended the 2001 North American Professors of Christian Education (NAPCE) Annual Conference, giving a research presentation entitled “Spiritual Formation Class - An Unexpected Journey for Pastors in Training” on Saturday, October 27. The theme for NAPCE 2001 was “Spiritual Journey and our Communities of Faith.” “The conference focused on the richness of the spiritual journey found in diverse expressions of the Body of Christ and explored implications for personal and corporate growth.” It also “explored the journey to spiritual maturity in four communities. African, Asian, Hispanic and Willow Creek Community Church experiences were described and explored throughout the conference.” NAPCE is an evangelical, ecumenical organization.
- While at AU in 2001/2002, gave a dissertation entitled “The impact of intentional learning experiences for personal spiritual formation on seminary students.”
- Colin Renfrew:
- Renfrew is director of Discipleship and Spiritual Development for South Queensland Conference of SDAs in Australia. He is the editor of Spiritually Formed, a “bi-annual journal exploring Christian discipleship in the context of spiritual formation.” http://www.signsofthetimes.org.au/authors/colin-renfrew
- In an article in the South Pacific Division Record entitled, “Connected to the vine,” Renfrew writes: “Posturing toward God involves the time-honoured disciplines of the Christian life. To the Spirit-filled Christian these disciplines are like breathing and are an indispensible part of each day. Prayer, Bible contemplation and study, fasting, solitude, submission, service, worship and celebration are just some of the disciplines practiced in turning toward the life in our great God and Father.”
- Miroslav Pujic:
- Pujic is the director of the Global Mission Centre for Secular and Postmodern Studies and of Media Ministry for the Trans-European Division of SDAs. He also works to “increase awareness of emergent culture among members and pastors and offers the LIFEdevelopment discipleship pathway “as a model for reaching postmoderns.” During one seminar church members responded positively, “showing that they are very motivated to adjust the church activities to a postmodern level; that music, lectures, group and club activities, and communication at large may be adjusted also.”
- In the May 17, 2008 issue of the South Pacific Division Record, an article entitled “South Qld [Queensland] ‘re:frames’ faith sharing” describes an April 2008 training weekend called Re:Frame, which was led by Pujic. More than 150 church members, pastors, and leaders of the SDA Church in South Queensland attended the first-ever event in Australia. Renfrew, who helped to write the article, stated that “At the heart of the Centre's ministry lies a vision to assist Adventists to understand emergent culture, provide tested and effective discipleship models, and create authentic resources to evangelise in postmodern culture.”
- Pujic is the director of the Global Mission Centre for Secular and Postmodern Studies and of Media Ministry for the Trans-European Division of SDAs. He also works to “increase awareness of emergent culture among members and pastors and offers the LIFEdevelopment discipleship pathway “as a model for reaching postmoderns.” During one seminar church members responded positively, “showing that they are very motivated to adjust the church activities to a postmodern level; that music, lectures, group and club activities, and communication at large may be adjusted also.”
The following are advisors and readers for projects and dissertations on spiritual formation:
- Victor Figueroa Villareal, Professor of Theology, University of Montemorelos (SDA), Mexico
- Raymond Pichette, Vice President of Pastoral Ministries, Potomac Conference of SDAs, Virginia
In June 2010, Roy Adams, as Associate Editor of the Adventist Review (now retired), published an article on the emerging church movement. He begins by stating that he first heard about it in April 2008 and gave it little attention because the idea seemed harmless to him. However, about a year later a retired SDA administrator called Adams because he was alarmed at the “growing negative impact” of the emerging church movement. An alarm should be sounded. Additionally, why was Adams just finding out about it in 2008 when it was already active in the Ohio Conference of SDAs since at least 2005 and was being promoted by the General Conference of SDAs in 2001?
After looking into the emerging church movement, Adams came to the conclusion that an alert should be sounded, but not an alarm, and that it is something to be watched, because it may have some good ideas for churches in this postmodern era. He believes it may just be a passing fad just like the New Age movement. Unfortunately, the emerging church movement is here to stay just like the New Age ideas, as can be seen in the sampling above of SDA emerging churches. It is part of Satan’s plan to bring about a one-world religion, and since he hates the SDA Church more than any other, he has attacked it viciously. Additionally, if it is just a passing fad, then what God has shown us in His Word, especially in The Great Controversy, is not true. Adams should know better.
The emerging church movement is still being promoted worldwide and is growing rapidly. How disheartening to know that Satan brought these very practices into the remnant church and most were not and perhaps still are not aware of it. It is interesting that Newsweek noticed this almost twenty years ago, while many Christians and SDAs are ignorant to this change.
Newsweek magazine, January 6, 1992, p. 44: “. . . silence, appropriate body posture and, above all, emptying the mind through repetition of prayer—have been the practices of mystics in all the great world religions. And they form the basis on which most modern spiritual directors guide those who want to draw closer to God.”
One only has to walk into a bookstore and look through the self-help, personal growth, health, and New Age sections to notice the numerous books on mysticism. It reveals that it is the main spirituality worldwide and is a concentrated effort to restructure our society.
A popular seminar speaker and transcendental meditation practitioner, John Gray, authored the bestseller, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus as well as How to Get What You Want and Want What You Have. In the latter book, he wrote how quickly and easily people are “moving into the mystical realm.”
Selected Messages, Book 1, p. 202
We need not the mysticism that is in this book [The Living Temple by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg]. Those who entertain these sophistries will soon find themselves in a position where the enemy can talk with them, and lead them away from God.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 6, p. 132
The study of God's word should take the place of the study of those books that have led minds into mysticism and away from the truth. Its living principles, woven into our lives, will be our safeguard in trials and temptations; its divine instruction is the only way to success. As the test comes to every soul, there will be apostasies. Some will prove to be traitors, heady, high-minded, and self-sufficient, and will turn away from the truth, making shipwreck of faith. Why? Because they did not live "by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." They did not dig deep and make their foundation sure.
When the words of the Lord through His chosen messengers are brought to them, they murmur and think the way is made too strait. In the sixth chapter of John we read of some who were thought to be disciples of Christ, but who, when the plain truth was presented to them, were displeased and walked no more with Him. In like manner these superficial students also will turn away from Christ.
Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand.
James Coffin, senior pastor of the Markham Woods SDA Church in Longwood, Florida, also wrote on the emerging church movement in the Adventist Review in June 2010. In his conclusion he is asking where the emerging church is headed. He should know where it is headed, and the question should be asked where we as individuals as well as the SDA Church are headed as the majority become more involved in every “wind of doctrine.” It does not need to be a “learn-as-we-go venture” as Coffin states. The Lord has already shown enough to SDAs in order that they can be certain how to be Christians and how to run the SDA organization, without using the ideas outside their faith.
At this website, Rey Descalso, Associate Director of the Center for Secular/Postmodern Mission for the General Conference of SDAs and the Youth/Associate Pastor of Markham Woods Church, recommended the book Postmodern Pilgrims: First century passion for a 21st century world by Leonard Sweet.
Jim Appel, Associate of the Center for Secular/Postmodern Mission, recommended the book A New Kind of Christian by Brian McLaren.
James Coffin has also been a director of the Center for Secular/Postmodern Mission.
Fernando Canale also wrote on the emerging church movement in the June 2010 Adventist Review. He is a professor of theology and philosophy at Andrews University. He first describes what the emerging church movement is like in the evangelical churches. They suggest adapting worship services for the postmodern culture, in hopes of attracting the secular youth, nonbelievers and even believers. This may include these practices:
- Music from heavy rock to traditional hymns.
- Ancient rituals.
- Spiritual disciplines.
- Contemplative prayer and prayer stations.
- Celebrating the liturgical Christian season, such as Easter.
- Celebrating the Eucharist.
- Partaking of Jewish traditions.
- Sermons optional, minimized or shortened, heavily illustrated with visuals or multiple presenters, and storytelling.
The Review and Herald, December 22, 1904
Weed out storytelling from your discourses, and preach the word. You will then have more sheaves to bring to the Master.
Each item mentioned in the list above has taken place in various SDA churches. Canale states that these all “emerge” from postmodern culture, contemporary charismatic worship, Catholic liturgy, or Eastern spirituality (New Age) and that a major overhaul of theology is under way. He explains how one emergent suggests surrendering all absolutes (philosophical and biblical) to embrace Christian tradition and the postmodern culture. He shows how this movement embraces theological pluralism, relativism, and Roman Catholic ecumenism.
Canale explains that the movement comes from Pentecostalism and Catholic mystical spirituality. He can be commended for stating that if the SDA Church continues to play follow the leader that new generations of SDAs will go back to Rome, that the gospel and the remnant church are at stake, and the SDA leaders should begin a biblical reformation. However, it is dangerous to state as he did that we should assess everything in the emerging church resources in light of the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy and use only what is good. Two problems to that include the fact that each person may decide differently what they think is good and as they assess the resources, they can be snared into error.
We see the habit of SDA leaders minimizing the dangers that confront the Church and mixing truth with error, saying just enough to try to pacify those who are alarmed. There is also a tendency to allow what it takes to keep the membership figures growing and the money coming in.
This is just one example of the Adventist Review promoting emerging churches. An article entitled “The Wausau Church Story” by Bill Bossert, tells what his church did to gain more members. At the time he pastored The Shepherd’s House: An Adventist Community of Love, an SDA church in Wausau, Wisconsin. He is now pastor of The Edge Christian Worship Center in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. The article references how they purchased the following two books to help their church grow: Dan Kimball’s book, The Emerging Church, for each elder and the book by Brian McLaren, More Ready Than You Realize, for each of the personal ministries committee members. The Edge church also “worships the Lord using many heartfelt contemporary Christian music themes.”
There used to be a time when a person could recognize an SDA church simply by its name. However, it is becoming a trend now to leave the Seventh-day Adventist name out, with more focus on it being a “community” church. Will this make it an easier transition to a Sunday-keeping church?
In an article on reorganization, the Review and Herald Publishing Association mentioned their experiencing “years of mounting financial loss.” Could it be due to the errors that are printed and therefore God is not pouring out a blessing? Are they repeating the same mistakes from the past that caused the 1902 fire to totally destroy the publishing house? The following words of Ellen White echo in our ears. These same words apply as well to Pacific Press Publishing Association.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 8, pp. 91-92
The presses in the Lord's institution have been printing the soul-destroying theories of Romanism and other mysteries of iniquity. The office must be purged of this objectionable matter. I have a testimony from the Lord for those who have placed such matter in the hands of the workers. God holds you accountable for presenting to young men and young women the fruit of the forbidden tree of knowledge. Can it be possible that you have not a knowledge of the warnings given to the Pacific Press on this subject? Can it be possible that with a knowledge of these warnings you are going over the same ground, only doing much worse? It has often been repeated to you that angels of God are passing through every room in the office. What impression has this made on your minds?
You have given matter containing Satan's sentiments into the hands of the workers, bringing his deceptive, polluting principles before their minds. The Lord looks upon this action on your part as helping Satan to prepare his snare to catch souls. God will not hold guiltless those who have done this thing. He has a controversy with the managers of the publishing house. I have been almost afraid to open the Review, fearing to see that God has cleansed the publishing house by fire.
The Lord has instructed me that those who cannot see the wickedness of co-operating with Satan by publishing his falsehoods might better seek some work in which they will not ruin our youth, body and soul. There is danger that the standard of truth and righteousness will be so lowered that God will bring His judgments upon the wrongdoers.
It is high time that we understood what spirit has for years been controlling matters at the Review and Herald office. I am horrified to think that the most subtle phase of spiritualism should be placed before the workers, and that in a way calculated to confuse and perplex the mind. Be assured that Satan will follow up the advantage thus given him.
Satan truly has followed up the advantage given him, as can be seen today in the spiritualism that has entered our SDA institutions.
John Markovic wrote on the emerging church movement in the March and May 2010 issues of Ministry magazine. He is the associate professor of modern European and church history at Andrews University. His article is paraphrased and condensed as follows: 1) It is hard to define the emerging movement; 2) Emergents should be handled gently; 3) My students read (by choice) the emergents works and some attend emergent worships; 4) Based on what others tell me, the emerging movement is affecting Protestant churches and the SDA Church, being promoted by the “progressives”; 5) There are others who do not like changes and expect the pastors to defend the “established worship practices and theology”; 6) We need to update our worship, yet keep it biblical; 7) The emerging call to be authentic Christians is able to reach society where traditional Christians do not; 8) Yet the emergents challenge certain doctrines which are not necessarily biblical; 9) Leading emergents teach that we should not be critical, divisive, and judgmental; 10) God asks us to reason together, to correctly handle the truth, and to test the spirits. . . .
While it is good that Markovic defends the Scriptures and mentions the need to overcome sin, he goes into details of what is involved in the emerging church movement and completely ignores the fact that it is going on right in the midst of Andrews University and the rest of the SDA Church. His conclusion is disappointing, because it does not sound an alarm. He is part of the problem, especially in leading students down a dangerous path. Once spiritualism is delved into, it is hard to get out of it, just like any other addiction.
In the April 2008 issue of Ministry magazine, Bruce Manners writes about SDA spirituality and quotes Eugene Peterson and Henri Nouwen. The article covers relationships, worship, and communication in the form of the “spiritual disciplines of reading and listening, of journaling and meditation, of shouting (inwardly, if you prefer) and silence. . . .” He also mentions solitude and practicing the “presence of God.” Next Manners quotes a Rabbi, strongly emphasizes the spiritual disciplines as a way to obtain an “experiential relationship with God,” and ends with a quote by Richard Foster.
In August 2009, Bobby Moore (pastor, Highline SDA Church, Burien, Washington) wrote an article in Ministry magazine entitled “Making space for God: Contemplation as praxis.” He mentions the following, which has been paraphrased:
- Benedict of Nursia’s “rule” allows for a “spiritual rhythm” in the daily routine to assist “practicing the presence of God” through different spiritual disciplines such as solitude. [Benedict of Nursia (480–547) founded Western Christian monasticism, was a “rule-giver” for monks, and founded twelve monk communities.]
- Dallas Willard’s book, Spirit of the Disciplines, explains how the “rule” helps us to make “space” for the Holy Spirit and to observe the disciplines that Christ used.
- Henry David Thoreau wished to “live deep.” Thoreau was a philosopher who believed that intuition was important.
- In order to be released from the “busyness” of life, “seek to give one’s self to the moment,” as this is the “beginning of contemplativeness” which provides space for God.
According to author Kees Waaijman, contemplation is entering into a space to “observe the movements of the divine.” As we do this, we will see God move in “ways we have never noticed.” [Waaijman was a friar, a professor of spirituality, and a director of a Catholic institute in the Netherlands, who wrote on the manifestations of spirituality.]
- Living contemplatively “shifts the paradigm radically,” has eternal benefits, and goes against conventional wisdom. It means to ignore the “tyranny of the urgent,” to live “in rhythm with nature,” and to be compassionate. It is a “planned journey” with flexibility. Intrusions are opportunities to glimpse the Divine.
- Pray for others so that “God’s grace will operate in their lives” in order that “Jesus will be continually glorified.” Be aware of Christ’s presence in each person you meet. [Unfortunately, the presence of Christ may not be in every person you meet, since it is up to the individual to choose Christ.]
- “Develop a contemplative lifestyle” with meditation and living in rhythm with God. As you “include space for Him, your passion for an effective ministry will increase—resulting in Christlikeness for yourself, your family, and your parishioners.”
- To help remind himself to pray in the middle of the day, Moore carries five smooth, colorful stones in his right pocket. As he prays, he removes one and rubs it in his fingers. When finished praying, he places it in his left pocket. Does he not realize that this routine can very easily lead to using a rosary?
Signs of the Times (Australia)
For years the Australian Signs of the Times has included many articles and front cover photos of celebrities. God’s people were never instructed to glorify the world’s superstars.
He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.
How can the world be taught to be a peculiar people if we feed them with what they already have? How can we remain a peculiar people if we continue to borrow from the world? Below are three examples of Signs articles which show the periodical’s downward trend that has led to spiritualism. Sadly, this is the case in most SDA periodicals.
A November 2004 article entitled “Stillness is Golden” included the following information:
- We can increase our “creative energy,” our sense of purpose and “connection with the Divine,” our “focus, contemplation and peace” through “stillness, solitude and silence.” “Be still, and know that I am God” from Psalm 46:10 was quoted, along with other verses on quietness and rest.
- Stillness can be helped through the external physical exercises such as walking, swimming, dancing, and visual contemplation of such items as a fireplace, candle flame, water feature, or flower arrangement.
- Our increasing awareness of the character of God reveals “our conscious and unconscious motivation” and “brings about powerful releases within us,” which leads to “transformational healing.”
In order to “start living fully,” introduce stillness practices, such as the following: 1) While performing daily tasks, be aware of touch, smells, colors, temperatures, rhythm, etc. as modeled by “Brother Lawrence” (1611-1691), who was a Catholic monk; 2) Spend ten minutes of “silent stillness” in a natural setting, focusing on everything sensory in nature around you; 3) With your eyes closed, allow past daily events to “stream past your consciousness,” cherishing the “life-giving moments you missed” and remembering the painful moments with forgiveness and tenderness; 4) In a quiet place, spend twenty uninterrupted minutes in wordless contemplation of the Divine and being receptive and hungry to connect and letting distracting thoughts “float past you without following”; 5) Centering prayer is a method that encourages you to “refocus on God” by “internally saying [repeating] one of the names of God that you relate to.” [This is an example of taking God’s name in vain.]
- A quote from Silence on Fire: The Prayer of Awareness by William Shannon, a Roman Catholic priest, in which he describes “wordless prayer” when we experience our dependence on God and “our awareness that we are in God.” [In that same book, Shannon wrote that “the goal of all true spirituality is to achieve an awareness of our oneness with God and with all of God’s creation.” In his book, Seeds of Peace, he states that contemplative spirituality has widely replaced the spiritual worldview of many in Catholicism and that “we are in God, but we don’t seem to know it” and “we are in paradise, but we don’t realize it.” He believes that “separate identities disappear in the All Who is God.”]
“People from many spiritual streams are embracing stillness” and sadly, Christians, in their “flurry to do good works, may be the ones most likely to miss out on these life-giving practices.” [However, in trying to stress inner peace and rest, even quoting Bible verses on examples from Jesus, the article borrows again from another contemplative mystic author, Thomas Kelly.]
Further recommended reading included other contemplative authors. The end of the article promoted “Stillspace,” an independent and non-denominational Christian ministry, and the online prayer labyrinth at http://www.yfc.co.uk/labyrinth/online.html. If the reader wished further information, he was to write the author of Signs Publishing Company.
A Book Review in November 2004 recommended as good reading A Retreat With Henri Nouwen: Reclaiming Our Humanity by Robert Durback. Yet as we have already learned, Henri Nouwen was a Catholic priest and mystic. The book also quotes Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk and mystic.
Another Australian Signs article of December 2005 by the editor, Nathan Brown, features his thoughts on the movie version of C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Brown also promotes FaithHouse Manhattan. The article concluded with a movie review by Chris Blake, who stated that “compared to typical Hollywood fare, Narnia is bracing entertainment with a fine spiritual message. It’s definitely worth a watch.”
General Conference of SDAs
SDA theologians and educators met for the Conference on Religious and Theological Education at the General Conference of SDAs in 2003, where a “list of 28 formal recommendations came out of the meetings.” One included urging all ministerial training schools to “include a class in experiential spiritual formation in their curricula.”
Adventist News Network
At the end of a February 2004 Adventist News Network article entitled “Church, Congregations Increase Focus on ‘Spiritual Formation,’ ” it stated that in September 2001, the SDA world church created the International Board of Ministerial and Theological Education (IBMTE). It is to give “guidance and standards” in training pastors, theologians, evangelists, chaplains, teachers, and other denominational employees in spiritual formation in all 13 regions of the church worldwide.
How tragic that the Baptist website quoted below finds it necessary to write about SDA leaders who are promoting the emerging church movement. There will be sincere, faithful Christians of other denominations who will join the purified church during the Loud Cry and take the place of those SDAs who have been unfaithful.
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=2136 (December 31, 2009)
In 2007, Lighthouse Trails posted an article titled Church, Congregations Increase Focus on “Spiritual Formation.” [referenced below] The article, released by Adventist News Network, showed how the emphasis of contemplative/spiritual formation was moving into the Seventh-day Adventist organization. The article stated that “this subject [spiritual formation] is receiving serious emphasis in Adventist institutions, as well as in local congregations.” The following Lighthouse Trails research reveals that Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan is promoting contemplative spirituality (i.e., spiritual formation) through a new concentration in their Doctor of Ministry degree program. An October 2009 Andrews newsletter, put out by Kenley D. Hall (Andrews DMin Project Coach) explains that “Discipleship & Spiritual Formation” and “Youth and Young Adult Ministry” will begin in February 2010 (see brochure).
According to the syllabus of one of the courses in the Andrews spiritual formation program, contemplative mystic proponents will be used to teach students this coming February. In CHMN 705 Theological and Historical Perspectives on Spiritual Growth, professor Jon Dybdahl is using a number of contemplative authors to “Demonstrate a continuing maturity in Christian formation, personal growth and ministry.” This maturity in Christian formation is typical language by contemplatives, who teach that true maturity can only come through spending time in contemplative silence. Richard Foster has been a pioneer in laying out this “maturity” doctrine. So it is not surprising that Dybdahl is turning to Foster for guidance. Other contemplatives being used in the class are: J.P. Moreland (Kingdom Triangle) and Peter Scazzero. A “short spiritual retreat” will also take place during the course. Scazzero’s book, Emotionally Healthy Spiritually (the book being used at Andrews), is a who’s who of contemplative mystics and panentheists; some of those he points readers to are Basil Pennington, Tilden Edwards, Henri Nouwen, Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, and several others.
In J.P. Moreland’s book, Kingdom Triangle (also used in Dybdahl’s class at Andrews), Moreland talks about a maturing process that takes place through “spiritual formation.” Moreland tells readers that a “treasure of deep, rich knowledge of the soul” can be found in the writings of the Desert Fathers, Henri Nouwen, and Richard Foster, (p. 153). Of course, all three of these sources ultimately point followers to eastern-style meditation (i.e., mantra-style). A four-part series Moreland did for Focus on the Family … substantiates that Moreland is embracing contemplative spirituality where he suggests that “Catholic retreat centers are usually ideal for solitude retreats.”
Jon Dybdahl’s contemplative propensities are strongly presented in his 2008 book, Hunger: Satisfying the Longing of Your Soul. In Hunger, Dybdahl favorably instructs on contemplative practices such as lectio divina, visualization (p. 64), the Jesus Prayer, and breath prayers (p. 52). Dybdahl explains in his book that in his “not-so-secret quest for God,” he turned to Quaker Thomas Kelly’s book A Testament of Devotion. It is Kelly, a panentheist, who said that within every human being is a “Divine Center,” a “secret sanctuary” (from A Testament of Devotion). This “secret sanctuary” Kelly is speaking of is what he calls “abiding Light behind all changing [life] forms.” He says: “In that Current we must bathe. In that abiding yet energizing Center we are all made one’ (p. 38).” Dybdahl says in Hunger that Henri Nouwen “intensified” his “craving” for “God’s presence.” (p.12) But the presence that Nouwen is speaking of is the same as that of mystics, and it is this mysticism that led Nouwen to reject Jesus Christ as the only path to God at the end of his life (Sabbatical Journey). Dybdahl’s book is brimming with references to contemplative mystics: David Benner, Morton Kelsey, Adele Alberg Calhoun, Tilden Edwards, Richard Foster, Ken Boa, and Brother Lawrence. (also see this critique on Hunger) [http://spiritualformationsda.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/hunger-critique3.pdf]
Another person who will be teaching at Andrews DMin in spiritual formation is Ben Maxson, pastor at Paradise Seventh-day Adventist church in Paradise, California and adjunct professor at Andrews University. Maxson will be teaching Mentoring for Discipleship & Spiritual Formation. In an article by Maxson titled “Renewing our Minds,” he says that the “spiritual disciplines” (the tools of spiritual formation) help one develop “intimacy with God,” and he encouraged practicing “the presence of God.”
One of the other spiritual formation courses in Andrews Theological Seminary’s DMin program on spiritual formation, taught by Allan Walshe, is The Personal Practice of Spiritual Formation. While the course’s syllabus is not currently posted online, we can partly identify Walshe’s contemplative propensities elsewhere. In an article featuring Walshe at a New Zealand conference, Walshe quotes contemplative pioneer Dallas Willard in referring to “intimacy with God.” This intimacy with God to the contemplative can only be obtained through going into the silence through meditation.
The DMin program on spiritual formation isn’t the only avenue through which contemplative is being implemented at Andrews. The youth ministry degree program is also involved with contemplative spirituality and emerging spirituality. In CHMN 720 Current Issues in Youth and Young Adult Ministry, professors Steve Case and Allan Walshe are using Emerging Church figure Shane Claiborne as well as emergent Youth Specialties author Chap Clark’s book, Deep Justice in a Broken World. The book is about the emerging kingdom on earth theology and turns to such figures as liberal/emerging theologians Jim Wallis and Tony Campolo.
Thus, as is usually the case, when a college or seminary begins to incorporate contemplative prayer, eventually they begin to open up to Emerging Church ideas – it is virtually inevitable. And this is the vehicle that drives our concerns. Those who practice contemplative prayer will move more and more toward an interspiritual outlook. Contemplative prayer (i.e., mysticism) is not just some obscure subculture – it is exploding across the Western religious spectrum.
There is much talk about “intimacy with God.” However, if you try to obtain it through contemplative prayer, you will eventually gain intimacy with evil spirits.
He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
Empower Ministry Conference
In 2007 the Empower Ministry Group‘s 5th National Leadership Conference was held at La Sierra University Alumni Center, with Jon Dybdahl and Jon Paulien as speakers. This ministry group was organized in 2002 as a group of Korean-American youth and young adult pastors—a “ministry-support organization for next-generation Asian-American Adventist leaders.” The focus of the conference was spiritual formation and Revelation. Dybdahl led the conference with a full-day “retreat.” It was stated that “those who attended Andrews University in the 1990s will recall the powerful impact that Dybdahl’s Spiritual Formation class had on their lives. Many will also remember the daylong retreat that was part of that course. On the Sabbath of the weekend, Dybdahl will guide us through that special experience and teach us how to lead such a retreat.” Paulien gave a Revelation Seminar based on his “Simply Revelation” DVD and his book The Deep Things of God. It was stated that his seminar promised to be “an excellent introduction and overview of a ‘new’ approach to the Bible’s most controversial book.” The conference closed with a worship feature by Hyveth Williams. It is a fearful thought to think of all those who are being deceived by these three leaders. The “retreat” they are involved in is “retreating toward Egypt.”
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 5, p. 217
The church has turned back from following Christ her leader, and is steadily retreating toward Egypt. Yet few are alarmed or astonished at their want of spiritual power. Doubt and even disbelief of the testimonies of the Spirit of God is leavening our churches everywhere. Satan would have it thus.
General Conference Sabbath School/Personal Ministries
This department stated: “Sabbath School is discipleship through religious education—and so much more. In seeking to meet the spiritual formation needs of its members, it features emphases in fellowship, outreach, Bible study, and mission and provides a rich spiritual environment in practical, everyday settings. In Sabbath School, there’s something for everyone and everything for you and for people all around you!”
North American Division of SDAs Evangelism Institute (NADEI)
This institute mixes truth with error by using some of the emerging church resources and techniques, such as the book by Bill Hybels, entitled Courageous Leadership as well as ChurchSmart resources. Joseph Kidder, among others, is on the teaching staff. Part of the intensive training is “Kingdom Values.” The Purpose Driven Church by Rick Warren in English and Spanish is promoted under the Resource Center’s “Natural Church Development/Inspiring Worship” section. The irony is that the worship is not inspired by God when it is promoting Rick Warren’s ideas. The book Overcoming Resistance to Change is under the “Church Growth/General” section. The promoters of these programs must be perplexed at how to win over faithful members. Change is not a problem, unless God’s laws or principles are being changed, and that is the case in the emerging church movement.
The Adventist Review featured the NAD’s third annual Women Clergy Conference in October 2006 in Indiana, which focused on spiritual leadership, nurturing and mentoring. Ruth Haley Barton, from The Transforming Center in Illinois, provided resources for pastors and began the conference with a presentation. The coordinator of the conference was Dúane Schoonard, associate pastor of the Collegedale Adventist Church in Tennessee, and associate ministerial secretary for the NAD.
Southeastern California Conference
A dissertation by Sandra Roberts at Claremont School of Theology in 2006 was entitled “Postmodern's ‘most wanted’: Using a spiritual formation process of volunteer youth leadership development in a Seventh-day Adventist conference.” The purpose of her study was to “develop, implement and test a spiritual formation process of leadership development among volunteer youth leaders in the Seventh-day Adventist middle judicatory office of Southeastern California Conference in a changing cultural climate of postmodernism.” Meetings with leaders included encouraging the practice of spiritual exercises. “The thesis of the project is that implementing a spiritual formation process of leadership development is a necessary shift in . . . training local church volunteer youth leaders to most effectively lead ministries to youth and young adults with an emerging postmodern world view which values authentic spirituality over other qualities and skill sets of leadership.”
The information below is taken from an Andrews University brochure which announced the new Doctor of Ministry concentration entitled “Discipleship & Spiritual Formation” and advertised as “Changing the People Who Change the World.”
- It began in February 2010 in Orlando, Florida with a teaching intensive for the first module taught by Jon Dybdahl and Monte Sahlin; at Andrews in May 2011 by Allan Walshe and Bill Knott and/or Kenley Hall; at Loma Linda in February 2012 by Ben Maxson and A. Allan Martin; at Andrews University in February 2013 by Joe Kidder. These intensives include reading the “best literature in discipleship and spiritual formation.”
- What is it? A theological and theoretical understanding of discipleship and spiritual formation, integrating the leader’s “personal spiritual transformation with the skills involved in one on one spiritual mentoring.” Strategies and resources will be developed for pastors to help their congregations to nurture discipleship, spiritual growth, and caring outreach to their communities, as well as teaching “devotional practices and patterns of life” that “shape and define who we are as disciples of Jesus.”
- What will the program enable you to do? 1) Articulate an SDA perspective on this subject; 2) understand and integrate the devotional habits (spiritual disciplines) into your own life and ministry; 3) demonstrate continued growth in spiritual leadership; 4) assist church members who struggle with consistency and depth in their “journey with God”; 5) train “spiritually mature” and “relationally gifted” people as spiritual mentors; 6) Shape the church into an “authentic community” involved in evangelism through “loving and maturing relationships.”
- The professors and pastoral practitioners in this course include: Jon Dybdahl, Ben Maxson, Joe Kidder, A. Allan Martin, Allan Walshe, Jane Thayer, Richard Davidson, Bill Knott, Monte Sahlin, and others.
- Carry out a “biblically and theologically faithful” practice of this subject, both corporately and individually.
- Discern truth from counterfeit, due to the “growing number of non-biblical spiritualities.”
Why would Andrews University or any other SDA institution bother to teach this course when there are a “growing number of non-biblical spiritualities”? If you expect new pastors to teach “biblically and theologically faithful” practices on this subject in spite of the fact there are so many problems, why bother teaching it to begin with? Why not just produce an SDA-safe course using the Bible and Spirit of Prophecy based on historic beliefs, rather than promote the reading and teaching of so many non-SDA emergents and New Agers? Otherwise, the pastors become confused and deceived, spreading their errors and confusion worldwide.
This website link is no longer available but showed the course offered for SDA seminary students at Andrews University and taught by Jon Dybdahl: CHMN 705 Theological and Historical Perspectives on Spiritual Growth. The mission statement mentions that the Discipleship and Spiritual Formation Concentration involves understanding discipleship and spiritual formation, including modeling and mentoring. The course aim includes knowledge on “being” and self-reflection. Hunger: Satisfying the Longing of Your Soul by Dybdahl and Streams of Living Water by Richard Foster were required reading, with Steps to Christ as the only Spirit of Prophecy book out of eleven books.
Trans-European Division of SDAs
The Trans-European Division encompasses Europe, the Middle East, two northern countries of Africa, and Pakistan. The following information is a result of this division’s response to the Revival and Reformation Committee of the General Conference of SDAs as well as the division’s 2010-2015 initiative: It was stated that “. . . as we enter a new five-year plan for mission, Tell the World, we commit ourselves . . . to support and promote the following initiatives to encourage our churches and organisations to make spiritual growth in life and godliness our first work. . . .” These initiatives include: 1) Prayer; 2) Bible reading; 3) “Study and apply the biblical disciplines for spiritual growth,” stress management, to enhance relationships, etc.; 4) Being “engaged in at least one outreach or mission project,” which includes small group, church planting projects, etc.; 5) “Participating in spiritual worship, celebration and fellowship” through a small group, church plant, etc.
Additionally, this division’s Media Productions includes Hollywood-style videos.
This division also has a training program called “Relay: Institute of Youth Evangelism,” which includes “Foundations of Youth Discipleship & Leadership,” a unit of education worth 30 credits and with “learning outcomes” that cover understanding the “spiritual disciplines included in discipleship. Some of the subjects offered are 1) Psychology; 2) Discipleship and mentoring strategies; 3) “Youth culture and material relevant to leadership in that context”; 4) Youth Innovative Initiatives. Practice includes “making disciples” and “designing discipleship pathways,” as well as “introducing spiritual discipline practices.” Also included is a group project “demonstrating discipleship and mentoring skills working with planning, communication and empowerment.” Two of the recommended books are Taking Discipleship Seriously: A Radical Biblical Approach by Tom Sine (encourages churches to become agents of change) and Mass Culture Eucharist and Mission in a Post-modern World by Pete Ward. Electives include “Evangelism in a Post Modern Context”; “Creative Youth Ministry”; and “Spiritual Formation.” Newbold College (SDA college in the United Kingdom) was listed as one of the venues out of 12 others that conduct the Relay training.
Singapore Mission of SDAs
Adventist Crossroads is a quarterly report of news and information for SDAs done by the Singapore Mission Communication Department. In 2000 Adventist Crossroads posted online information on Natural Church Development as well as cell church and small groups for the Evangelism Institute of the NAD. It ended by making this statement: “The potential this approach has to offer has gotten our pastors all excited. The individual commitment in the cell group allows one to experience the fullness of true community in Christ. It allows Christian ministry to flourish. It empowers and develops individuals. It nurtures friendship, spirituality and healing. If you belong to a church which is getting excited with plans to organise cell-groups you are on track. If you have not heard about this cutting-edge technology of doing church, look out for it. It will be coming your way soon.”
“Cutting-edge technology” is a good way to describe Satan’s modern methods of “doing” church.
Iceland Conference of SDAs
The Adventist Review featured an article entitled “Re-Formation in Iceland” written by Gavin Anthony, who is the director of Youth and Discipleship for the Iceland Conference of SDAs. It revealed that this conference is “building its discipleship model” around spiritual formation. To learn more, the article referenced the http://www.reflectingjesus.org website. It is filled with promotion for prominent emerging church leaders, ideas, and resources outside of the SDA Church. In June 2008 Anthony wrote that he was on his way to Andrews University to “start a PhD in spiritual formation and discipleship.”
South Bavarian Conference of SDAs, Germany
Wolfgang Dorn is a youth pastor for this conference and states that because of our postmodern condition, the future of our Church in the western world “depends highly on our ability to adapt to postmodern thinking” and to respond to the suggestions of Jon Paulien and others. He stated that “this involves changes in many areas” and “moving in this direction” is “for the sake of lost people.”
That direction will cause many to be lost. Common sense tells us that many are using postmodernism as an excuse to bring new theology and new worship practices into the churches. Sinful practices may meet our desires and take care of our feelings, but only truth will meet our needs. To believe that because we are in a postmodern society means we must have postmodern churches compares to believing that since most of the world is breaking God’s laws, the churches might as well do the same, well, maybe just break five of the Ten Commandments and then we will gain more members. Postmodernism is nothing more than evil increasing.
And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
The Review and Herald, June 12, 1888
The natural, selfish mind, if left to follow out its own evil desires, will act without high motives, without reference to the glory of God or the benefit of mankind. The thoughts will be evil, and only evil, continually.
While Rick Warren, Dan Kimball and Dr. Robert Webber and others may be excited about the “Emerging Church” and the direction it is presently headed, I am concerned the “Emerging Church” may actually be a re-emergence of what has already occurred in church history. If the pattern continues expect to see evangelical Protestants become more and more Roman Catholic.
This conclusion makes sense in light of what is written in the prophecies of Revelation and in the book The Great Controversy by Ellen White. It shows how easily evangelical “Protestants” (including backslidden SDAs) will give in to a national Sunday law. It is also a sign that Christ’s return is not far away. God’s faithful need to warn others how to recognize Satan’s subtle deceptions and how to remain faithful to God’s truth in these last days.
Here are just a few examples of the use of prayer stations in SDA institutions:
- In 2006 Forest Lake Academy featured a 24/7 Prayer Room which was advertised as a “radical call for the next generation to rise up in passionate, persistent and powerful prayer to change lives, families, communities and nations.” Included were candles, cushions, music, art, worship and “interactive prayer stations to help make your prayer time enjoyable. Prepare to experience God!” It was explained that “prayer can come through various forms.” If the art supplies were used, they were instructed to clean up when done, and they could write experiences in the prayer journal. The original 24/7 Prayer Room started in 1999 in England with a student-led prayer vigil and has spread into 100 plus nations. It is an international, interdenominational movement of prayer, justice, and mission.
- Andrews University describes their prayer stations as places around campus where students can pray together at different times during the school day. It is thought of as a “spiritual awakening, a way to connect to God and to fellow students,” a “jump-start” for the day, and a “testimony for those who witness it.” Campus Ministries included an ad for “S.P.A.R.K. (Share, Prayer, Ask, Receive, Know).” It is a ministry that supports “small group prayer” on the Andrews University campus through programs that include “sidewalk prayer stations and prayer tag.”
- The November 2009 Pacific Union Recorder displayed a photo of an ACTS Prayer Path created by the women’s ministries at the Auburn church (Northern California). It included different stations for “adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication” (A.C.T.S.). This is an ancient pattern for prayer.
- In April 2008, the Adventist Health/West corporate office in Roseville, California held a “Walk-through Meditation.” A few tables were set up in a room with items such as pictures, poems, icons, a cross-shaped picture frame, flowers, candles, a finger prayer labyrinth, a radio playing soothing New Age music, and four picture frames that included these words: “God’s loving smile is upon you; God’s gracious smile is upon you; God’s welcoming smile is upon you; God’s tender smile is upon you.” This sounds wonderful, but it is conditional for each individual.
Messages to Young People, p. 75
You have a spotted record in Heaven. The sins you have committed are all registered there. God's frown is upon you, and yet you appear destitute of feeling; you do not realize your lost and undone condition. At times you do have feelings of remorse; but your proud, independent spirit soon rises above this, and you stifle the voice of conscience.
Also included were handouts with the following type of information:
- A summary on forgiveness from the book Forgive for Good by Frederic Luskin. His techniques resemble spiritual practices honored by monks in monastic communities for centuries.
- A description of prayer labyrinths and suggestions for using one.
- Instructions for station 1 and spiritual health self-assessments for stations 2 through 5, based on “Healing the Four Dimensions of Spiritual Pain in the classical Sacred Art of Living and Dying tradition,” which included the following:
- Station 1 – Where is the Hurt?: “The purpose of this self-paced, walk-through meditation is to knock the ‘dis’ out of ‘disease,’ and restore to each visitor a sense of ease.” [There is nothing sacred about God’s people being at ease with mysticism. Forgetting His instructions brings on the disease of sin.]
- Station 2 – Healing With Meaning and Purpose: “With deep cleansing breaths quiet yourself and take a moment for reflection or prayer.”
- Station 3 – Healing Through Forgiveness: “Inhale deeply, and then breathe out a prayer for self-awareness. Breathe in once more, and once again exhale fully as you open your heart toward healing kindnesses.”
- Station 4 – Healing Through Connectedness/Relatedness: “With more deep cleansing breaths, continue to search your heart, giving yourself time for reflection or prayer.”
- Station 5 – Healing With Hope: “As you prayerfully inhale and exhale, prayerfully contemplate: How am I in the depths of my being?”
Adventist Health/West states that one of their “values” is the “health care heritage” of the SDA Church. Mystical promotion has nothing to do with the heritage of God’s remnant Church. Adventist Health worldwide is a long way from God’s health plan.
My Denomination Does Not Promote New Age Spirituality Through Spiritual Formation Programs!
When allowed to run its course, the end result of embracing this spirituality is a complete paradigm shift—not only away from the simplicity found in Christ, but altogether away from the fact that Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth, and the only life.
To a man, Evangelical contemplatives all profess belief in Christ.
But all prominent, admitted, contemplatives—all—as in every single one—stress that they have finally come to the understanding that God is in all things.
This is an admission, whether they own up to it or not, that, in their refined, revised, contemplative, opinion, Jesus is no longer the only way.
There is no way God can be in everything and only in those who belong to his son at the same time. The two ideas are mutually exclusive—each diabolically opposed to the other.
The end result of contemplative spirituality is Panentheism.
The spiritual formation that has come into Christian organizations, in its many different facets, is nothing more than spiritualism. Ellen White predicted that there would be an omega of apostasy. The alpha of apostasy was based on pantheism. Does it not make sense that the omega is also based on pantheism?
In order to experience complete spiritual formation, we are taught that we must partake in certain disciplines or exercises. Faithful Christians will have nothing to do with paganism.
For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.
The emerging church movement is drinking from the stagnant waters of this world. The SDA Church does not need the world’s errors to grow their churches or individually. The emergents believe their source of spiritual water comes from a deep well. However, the deepest spirituality comes from sanctifying obedience to the truth in God’s Word. The Lord has already given the remnant church His truth and methods. Borrowing from the world is not teaching pure truth. It is defeating the real purpose of evangelism. Remember, God’s laws, principles and standards for worship never change.
Let us also remember that the true messages will not be popular. It is only the minority who will hear and respond. How can the world hear the truth if it is not shared? The SDA Church can use thousands of evangelism programs and preach for another thousand years, but if it is not the whole truth, it is useless. God is waiting for the “loud cry” of the undiluted three angels’ messages, not the loud cry of modern praise or rock music.
If the SDA Church blends with Satan’s plan, it will lose the respect of true Christians. Already other religions are writing against the Church’s borrowed methods. The Church should be embarrassed and ashamed. It owes the world an apology. If there is repentance, the Lord will enable it to quickly finish the work. It is time for those in a Laodicean condition to awake and show the world what the whole truth really is. The messages sent of God through Ellen White have been despised or belittled. God is trying to bring those precious messages back to life. They were given as an advantage and people act as though it is to their disadvantage.
Many are saying that there is a need to modernize spiritual terms for the postmoderns and the unchurched. While the words should be kept simple enough for people to understand, in the process, we cannot throw out the King James Version of the Bible and Ellen White’s writings. God expects individuals to study to understand it through the help of the Holy Spirit. Trying to make truth relevant is not an excuse for SDAs to water down doctrines. God has provided those truths just as they are for our happiness, true success, and for our eternal salvation. If we reject that truth, it is our loss. If we join in the emerging church movement to reach the world, the world has reached us.
The Review and Herald, January 31, 1893
We are not to cringe, and beg pardon of the world for telling them the truth. We should scorn concealment. Unfurl your true colors to the gaze of men and angels. Let it be understood that Seventh-day Adventists can make no compromise. In our opinions and faith there must not be the least appearance of wavering. The world has a right to expect something of us, and will look upon us as dishonest, as hiding our real sentiments and principles out of policy, if we present even the semblance of being uncommitted.
The majority of SDA Church members are trapped in the falsehoods of new theology, celebration, and the New Age and emerging church movements. Only repentance can give the freedom to escape the trap and truly begin to walk with Christ toward the real kingdom not of this world.
Counsels for the Church, pp. 348-349
We are now living in the great day of atonement. In the typical service, while the high priest was making the atonement for Israel, all were required to afflict their souls by repentance of sin and humiliation before the Lord, lest they be cut off from among the people. In like manner, all who would have their names retained in the book of life should now, in the few remaining days of their probation, afflict their souls before God by sorrow for sin and true repentance. There must be deep, faithful searching of heart. The light, frivolous spirit indulged by so many professed Christians must be put away. There is earnest warfare before all who would subdue the evil tendencies that strive for the mastery. The work of preparation is an individual work. We are not saved in groups. The purity and devotion of one will not offset the want of these qualities in another. Though all nations are to pass in judgment before God, yet He will examine the case of each individual with as close and searching scrutiny as if there were not another being upon the earth. Everyone must be tested and found without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
Solemn are the scenes connected with the closing work of the atonement.
It is interesting to note that the emergents cover every world faith except true SDAs. May we be found in that number who stand by the Word of God, live it, and “shout it” to the world. When there are a people (144,000) who do this, the real church will emerge—the church triumphant.
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
The emerging church leads right to Roman Catholicism, helping to fulfill what has been prophesied in the Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy, which tell us that Protestantism changes, not Rome.
The Signs of the Times, February 19, 1894
It is a backsliding church that lessens the distance between itself and the Papacy.
Last Day Events, p. 179
Many will stand in our pulpits with the torch of false prophecy in their hands, kindled from the hellish torch of Satan....
Some will go out from among us who will bear the ark no longer. But these can not make walls to obstruct the truth; for it will go onward and upward to the end.
Testimonies for the Church, Vol. 1, p. 577
The scene was changed. The company now presented the appearance of a Catholic procession. One bore in his hand a cross, another a reed. And as they approached, the one carrying a reed made a circle around the house, saying three times: “This house is proscribed. The goods must be confiscated. They have spoken against our holy order.”
Is the emerging church movement the beginning of this prophecy? It certainly looks that way. The omega is here today. It truly is “of a most startling nature.” It reveals how short time is on this planet. The fast-fulfilling prophecy stated below can be seen in the emerging church movement.
The Great Controversy (1888), pp. 588-589
Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome. The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of spiritualism; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience.
As spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity of the day, it has greater power to deceive and ensnare. Satan himself is converted, after the modern order of things. He will appear in the character of an angel of light. Through the agency of spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed. And as the spirits will profess faith in the Bible, and manifest respect for the institutions of the church, their work will be accepted as a manifestation of divine power.
The line of distinction between professed Christians and the ungodly is now hardly distinguishable. Church members love what the world loves and are ready to join with them, and Satan determines to unite them in one body and thus strengthen his cause by sweeping all into the ranks of spiritualism. Papists, who boast of miracles as a certain sign of the true church, will be readily deceived by this wonder-working power; and Protestants, having cast away the shield of truth, will also be deluded. Papists, Protestants, and worldlings will alike accept the form of godliness without the power, and they will see in this union a grand movement for the conversion of the world and the ushering in of the long-expected millennium.
Many SDAs are trivializing the importance of personal study of the Bible and Ellen White’s writings, of repenting and preparing for Christ’s imminent return.
Selected Messages, Book 1, pp. 138-139
In order to increase our spiritual endowment, it is necessary to walk in the light. In view of the event of Christ's soon coming, we must be vigilantly working to prepare our own souls, to keep our own lamps trimmed and burning, and to urge upon others the necessity of getting ready for the coming of the Bridegroom. Watching and working must go together; faith and works must be united, or our characters will not be symmetrical and well-balanced, perfect in Christ Jesus.
Ibid., Book 2, pp. 16-17
The Holy Spirit of God alone can create a healthy enthusiasm. Let God work, and let the human agent walk softly before Him, watching, waiting, praying, looking unto Jesus every moment, led and controlled by the precious Spirit, which is light and life.
The end is near. The children of light are to work with earnest, persevering zeal to lead others to prepare for the great event before us, that they may be able to resist the enemy because they have allowed the Holy Spirit to work upon their hearts. New and strange things will continually arise to lead God's people into false excitement, religious revivals, [charismatic services] and curious developments. Let them keep advancing, with their eyes fixed alone upon the Light and Life of the world. Know that everything that is called light and truth in the Word of God is light and truth, an emanation from divine wisdom, not an imitation of Satan's subtle arts [emerging churches]. The light of God's wisdom will be to every true, steadfast, contrite soul as a lamp to his feet.
Ibid., Book 1, pp. 186-188
Jesus said: "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent" (John 17:3). All that was done and said had this one object in view--to rivet truth in their minds that they might attain unto everlasting life. Jesus did not come to astonish men with some great announcement of some special time when some great event would occur, but He came to instruct and save the lost. He did not come to arouse and gratify curiosity; for He knew that this would but increase the appetite for the curious and the marvelous. It was His aim to impart knowledge whereby men might increase in spiritual strength, and advance in the way of obedience and true holiness. He gave only such instruction as could be appropriated to the needs of their daily life, only such truth as could be given to others for the same appropriation.
He did not make new revelations to men, but opened to their understanding truths that had long been obscured or misplaced through the false teaching of the priests and teachers. Jesus replaced the gems of divine truth in their proper setting, in the order in which they had been given to patriarchs and prophets. And after giving them this precious instruction, He promised to give them the Holy Spirit whereby all things that He had said unto them should be brought to their remembrance.
We are in continual danger of getting above the simplicity of the gospel. There is an intense desire on the part of many to startle the world with something original, that shall lift the people into a state of spiritual ecstasy, and change the present order of experience. There is certainly great need of a change in the present order of experience; for the sacredness of present truth is not realized as it should be, but the change we need is a change of heart, and can only be obtained by seeking God individually for His blessing, by pleading with Him for His power, by fervently praying that His grace may come upon us, and that our characters may be transformed. This is the change we need today, and for the attainment of this experience we should exercise persevering energy and manifest heartfelt earnestness. We should ask with true sincerity, "What shall I do to be saved?" We should know just what steps we are taking heavenward.
Ibid., Book 1, p. 189
The times and the seasons God has put in His own power. And why has not God given us this knowledge?--Because we would not make a right use of it if He did. A condition of things would result from this knowledge among our people that would greatly retard the work of God in preparing a people to stand in the great day that is to come. We are not to live upon time excitement. We are not to be engrossed with speculations in regard to the times and the seasons which God has not revealed. Jesus has told His disciples to "watch," but not for a definite time. His followers are to be in the position of those who are listening for the orders of their Captain; they are to watch, wait, pray, and work, as they approach the time for the coming of the Lord; but no one will be able to predict just when that time will come; for "of that day and hour knoweth no man." You will not be able to say that He will come in one, two, or five years, neither are you to put off His coming by stating that it may not be for ten or twenty years.
Ibid., Book 3, p. 339
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, was ever prophesying the coming of the Lord. This great event had been revealed to him in vision. Abel, though dead, is ever speaking of the blood of Christ which alone can make our offerings and gifts perfect. The Bible has accumulated and bound up together its treasures for this last generation. All the great events and solemn transactions of Old Testament history have been, and are, repeating themselves in the church in these last days. There is Moses still speaking, teaching self-renunciation by wishing himself blotted from the Book of Life for his fellow men, that they might be saved. David is leading the intercession of the church for the salvation of souls to the ends of the earth. The prophets are still testifying of the sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow. There the whole accumulated truths are presented in force to us that we may profit by their teachings. We are under the influence of the whole. What manner of persons ought we to be to whom all this rich light of inheritance has been given. Concentrating all the influence of the past with new and increased light of the present, accrued power is given to all who will follow the light. Their faith will increase, and be brought into exercise at the present time, awakening an energy and an intensely increased earnestness, and through dependence upon God for His power to replenish the world and send the light of the Sun of Righteousness to the ends of the earth.
Ellen White describes exactly the “new organization” that is seen in the SDA institutions which promote New Theology and the New Age and emerging church movements.
Maranatha, p. 203
We cannot now step off the foundation that God has established. We cannot now enter into any new organization; for this would mean apostasy from the truth.
Manuscript Releases, Vol. 11, p. 248
It is hard for those who have been charmed by seductive, flattering, soul-destroying theories to see where these theories will lead, or to discern, wherein their spiritual eyesight has been defective.
Ibid., Vol. 8, p. 345
There will be seducing spirits and doctrines of devils in the midst of the church, and these evil influences will increase; but hold fast the beginning of your confidence firm unto the end.
Satan and his angels will appear on this earth as men, and will mingle with those of whom God's Word says, "Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils" (1 Timothy 4:1).
When these spiritualistic deceptions are revealed to be what they really are--the secret workings of evil spirits--those who have acted a part in them will become as men who have lost their minds.
Selected Messages, Book 1, pp. 204-205
The enemy of souls has sought to bring in the supposition that a great reformation was to take place among Seventh-day Adventists, and that this reformation would consist in giving up the doctrines which stand as the pillars of our faith, and engaging in a process of reorganization. Were this reformation to take place, what would result? The principles of truth that God in His wisdom has given to the remnant church, would be discarded. Our religion would be changed. The fundamental principles that have sustained the work for the last fifty years would be accounted as error. A new organization would be established. Books of a new order would be written. A system of intellectual philosophy would be introduced. The founders of this system would go into the cities, and do a wonderful work. The Sabbath of course, would be lightly regarded, as also the God who created it. Nothing would be allowed to stand in the way of the new movement. The leaders would teach that virtue is better than vice, but God being removed, they would place their dependence on human power, which, without God, is worthless. Their foundation would be built on the sand, and storm and tempest would sweep away the structure.
Who has authority to begin such a movement? We have our Bibles. We have our experience, attested to by the miraculous working of the Holy Spirit. We have a truth that admits of no compromise. Shall we not repudiate everything that is not in harmony with this truth?
...the errors that have been coming in must be met.
If you are involved in any of the movements that have been mentioned, repentance and returning to biblical truths is your only salvation.
The Desire of Ages, p. 354
God is dishonored and the gospel is betrayed when His servants depend on the counsel of men who are not under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Worldly wisdom is foolishness with God. Those who rely upon it will surely err.
The Signs of the Times, December 1, 1881
As the men of Israel witnessed the corrupt course of the priests, they thought it safer for their families not to come up to the appointed place of worship. Many went from Shiloh with their peace disturbed, their indignation aroused, until they at last determined to offer their sacrifices themselves, concluding that this would be fully as acceptable to God, as to sanction in any manner the abominations practiced in the sanctuary.