Jesuit Agenda and Evangelical Protestant Church

An Understand the Times – Lighthouse Trails Special Report

According to Bible prophecy, a one-world religion that will offer the promise of peace throughout the world is going to commence prior to Christ’s return. To most, this global body will seem like a wonderful thing and very possibly will be a pseudo-Christianity (coming in the name of “Christ”); however, contrary to how the masses will view it, it will actually help establish and set up the antichrist and his one-world government.

In order for this to happen, all religions must come together in an ecumenical plan. Today, as part of this Satanic scheme, the evangelical/Protestant church is being drawn seductively into the Roman Catholic church, largely through what we call “The Jesuit Agenda.” Incredibly, while the evidence is obvious to some, the majority of proclaiming Christians are not at all aware it is happening.

So, what should we expect if we are in the time when such a system unfolds? First, many who once were Protestant and evangelical will become ecumenical and eventually assimilate with the Roman Catholic church. Second, all religions will unite in solidarity of purpose. Understanding the Jesuit Agenda is essential if we are to understand how this worldwide deception will come about.

Who are the Jesuits?

Since its foundation, the Catholic papacy has been zealous and often brutal in its endeavor to establish the kingdom of the Pope (of whom it is believed within the Catholic church is headed by Jesus Christ). In fact, the Pope has been referred to as the “Vicar of Christ.” This determination was witnessed during the Inquisition where countless thousands, if not millions, died cruelly for resisting Rome. Foxe’s Book of Martyrs describes many of these atrocities.

While many believers in Christ during the Reformation period attempted to spread the truth that God’s Word was truly God’s Word and could not be squandered and kept hostage by the papacy and the Catholic Church, it was not long before the Counter Reformation was founded to bring the “Separated Brethren” back to the “Mother of All Churches.”

This Counter Reformation was largely headed by Ignatius Loyola, the man who founded the Jesuit Order in the mid 1500s and launched an all-out attack against those who dared stand against the papacy and Rome. This excerpt from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs gives us an idea of the nature and determination of this Counter Reformation:

The emperor Ferdinand, whose hatred of the Bohemian Protestants was without bounds, not thinking he had sufficiently oppressed them, instituted a high court to prosecute the reformers upon the plan of the Inquisition, with this difference, that the court was to travel from place to place and always to be attended by a body of troops. This court was conducted chiefly by Jesuits and from their decision there was no appeal, by which it may be easily conjectured that it was a dreadful tribunal indeed.

This bloody court, attended by a body of troops, made the tour of Bohemia. They seldom examined or saw a prisoner, for the soldiers were permitted to murder the Protestants as they pleased and then to make a report of the matter to them afterward.

You see, the Jesuits were commissioned by the Pope to do whatever it took to end the Protestant Reformation. The 1540 Constitution of the Jesuits states:

[L]et whoever desires to fight under the sacred banner of the Cross, and to serve only God and the Roman pontiff, His vicar on earth, after a solemn vow of perpetual chastity,- let him keep in mind that he is part of a society, instituted for the purpose of perfecting souls in life and in Christian doctrine, for the propagation of the faith . . . Let all members know, and let it be not only at the beginning of their profession, but let them think over it daily as long as they live, that the society as a whole, and each of them, owes obedience to our most holy lord, the pope, and the other Roman pontiffs, his successors, and to fight with faithful obedience for God. (Emphasis added.)

While most Christians think that the Counter Reformation is a thing of the past because we are not seeing Inquisitions today, this movement continues until today and with renewed effort through various avenues of the evangelical/Protestant church. In a way, it is more insidious than the Inquisitions, because now it has infiltrated Christianity and is being disguised as the “new” Christianity. (Rick Warren promotes it as the “new” or second reformation.) But disguised or not, it is the Jesuit Agenda, and it is bringing about ecumenism and a one-world religion. And at the same time, it is attempting to destroy the message that so many died for – the message that Jesus Christ is not found in a wafer and a cup of juice to be re-crucified day after day but has died once and for all for the sins of man and offers a salvation that is an entirely free gift, unearned to those who believe on Him (Hebrews 7:27; 10:11-14).

Who Was Ignatius Loyola?

After a serious injury in the military and during a lengthy rehabilitation, Ignatius Loyola (b. 1491, d. 1556) turned his focus from “military enthusiasm to ghostly fanaticism.”2 Ignatius assumed the name and office of Knight of the Virgin Mary, seeing himself as Mary’s favorite. Ignatius wanted to start a new order, The Society of Jesus (or the Jesuits) and presented the idea to the Pope. He told the Pope that the idea had been inspired by heavenly revelations. At first, the Pope hesitated, but when Ignatius added a fourth vow (in addition to the regular poverty, chastity, and obedience), “absolute subservience to the pope,” promising to do whatever the Pope wanted and go wherever he wanted, the Pope agreed and sent the new order out to “invade the world.” While other monks of other orders sought to separate themselves from the world, the Jesuits went out into the world and obeyed whatever command the Pope gave. Often this was to win the world with the sword. No violent act was withheld if the order came from their top “general.”3

In time, the Jesuits entered the education system, especially that of the Protestants. The Jesuit maxim was: “Give us the education of the children of this day – and the next generation will be ours.”4 The Reverend W. C. Brownlee, D.D. stated: “They pretended to be converted and to enter into Protestant churches.” One Jesuit even boasted that the Jesuits were successfully able to imitate the Puritan preachers. They used trickery and deception to become “all things to all men.” Within 48 years, there were eleven thousand Jesuits around the world, quite a large number for back then. 5

By 1773, the order was abolished because of their horrible reputation of bloodiness, deception, and immorality. However, they were reinstated fully in 1814 by Pope Pius VII. Even by this time, the influence and infiltration into the United States by the Jesuits was significant.

In 1857, the Reverend W.C. Brownlee, D.D. compiled a book of a translated document called Secret Instructions of the Jesuits (found on the Boston College Libraries website, for one). While Catholic sources say that the Secret Instructions of the Jesuits is an untrue document, there is enough evidence to indicate that it is true indeed. Naturally, it is so indicting against the papacy and the Jesuit Order that one can understand from a human point of view why Catholic sources would say the document isn’t true. But the facts are that the Jesuit Order was performing brutal cruel acts to bring the world to “Christ” and the Mother Church and that they were infiltrating every area of society to do so. This cannot be denied. Brownlee’s book would be a worthwhile read for those who wish to understand more of the history of the Jesuits.

The Jesuit Oath

It is said that the ancient Jesuits took the Jesuit Oath. This has been refuted by Catholic sources as a true oath taken by Jesuits of the past; nevertheless, there is evidence enough that the oath did exist to include excerpts of it in this report. We have taken these excerpts from a book titled Political and Economic Handbook by Thomas Edward Watson published in 1916, and found in the Harvard College library:

I do declare from my heart, without mental reservation, that the Pope is Christ’s Vicar General and . . . He hath power to depose Heretical Kings, Princes, States . . . that they may safely be destroyed. Therefore, to the utmost of my power I will defend this doctrine. . . . I do further declare the doctrine of the Church of England, of the Calvanists [sic], the Huguenots, and other Protestants to be damnable and those to be damned who will not forsake the same.

I do further declare that I will help, assist, and advise all or any of His Holiness agents in any place wherever I shall be; and to do my utmost to extirpate [exterminate] the heretical Protestant doctrine, and to destroy all their pretended power. (p. 437)

In another version of the Jesuit Oath, the Jesuit is asked to promise that he will make “relentless war” against “all heretics, Protestants” and to “hang, burn, waste, boil, flay, strangle, and bury alive these infamous heretics” (found in U.S. House Congressional Record, 1913, p. 3216).

The Jesuit Agenda Today

While we are not saying that Jesuits today are murdering Protestants if they don’t convert to Catholicism, we are saying that the determination and efforts to convert Protestants back to the Mother Church still exist. Basically, while the methods may have changed, the plan and objectives have not. The following quote from an article titled “Essay on Popery” by Rev. Ingram Cobbin M.A. (taken from one edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs) is insightful:

The Jesuits, though at times expelled or pretendedly so from Rome, have been its awful emissaries to augment its power. The intrigues and deceptions of these men would fill volumes, and the conveniency of their creed to deny or affirm anything, or assume any profession as it may serve their purpose, is too well known to need recapitulating here. These men have at times assumed so much that every papal state has alternately ejected them; and large numbers are now in this country—doubtless many under false colours —waiting the most favourable opportunities to corrupt the rising generation, and, as much as possible, restore the dark days of former ages. The Jesuits are unchangeable.

The Jesuits were driven in the past to bring back the lost brethren, and they are driven today with the same vision. Today, that vision is part of the pope’s Eucharistic Evangelization, drawing people to the Eucharistic Christ. The Eucharistic Evangelization is discussed at length in Another Jesus: The Evangelization of the Eucharistic Christ and in several articles on the Understand the Times website.

Jesuit (Mystical) Spirituality and the Protestant/Evangelical Church

So if the methods of converting lost or prodigal souls back to Rome have changed, what is the method to accomplish these goals today? It is largely through what is called Jesuit Spirituality. A 2002 book titled Contemplatives in Action: The Jesuit Way reveals how the Jesuit order has had and continues to have a “great influence” in people around the world. It attributes this “vitality” to “its spirituality” which has also “evoked fierce loyalty and fierce opposition.”6

What is the spirituality of the Jesuits that was so controversial? By their very roots, Jesuits are proponents of mystical prayer practices. The founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius Loyola, created “spiritual exercises” that incorporated mysticism, including lectio divina. Today, millions of people worldwide practice the “Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola.”

One Jesuit priest who resonates with the mystical spiritual outlook is Anthony De Mello (d. 1987), author of Sadhana: A Way to God. De Mello is often quoted today by contemplative and emerging authors and embraced the mysticism of Hinduism. He stated:

To silence the mind is an extremely difficult task. How hard it is to keep the mind from thinking, thinking, thinking, forever thinking, forever producing thoughts in a never ending stream. Our Hindu masters in India have a saying: one thorn is removed by another. By this they mean that you will be wise to use one thought to rid yourself of all the other thoughts that crowd into your mind. One thought, one image, one phrase or sentence or word that your mind can be made to fasten on. – Anthony de Mello, Sadhana: A Way to God (St. Louis, the Institute of Jesuit Resources, 1978), p. 28 (cited from A Time of Departing, by Ray Yungen, p. 75).

Ray Yungen explains that Sadhana “is very open in its acknowledgment of Eastern mysticism as an enrichment to Christian spirituality.”

It doesn’t take a long search to find De Mello within the evangelical/Protestant camp. In fact, Richard Foster, one of the pioneers of the evangelical spiritual formation (contemplative) movement wrote the introduction to one of De Mello’s books, The Sacrament of the Present Moment. In A Glimpse of Jesus, popular contemplative author Brennan Manning quotes De Mello. Amazon shows that De Mello’s book, The Sacrament of the Present Moment is cited in 82 books, some of which are written by some of evangelicalism’s most popular authors: John Ortberg, Richard Foster, Jan Johnson, Philip Yancey, and Calvin Miller – incidentally all these are contemplative advocates.

Another example of Jesuit influence in the evangelical/Protestant church is the Be Still DVD, where Richard Foster quotes 18th century Jesuit priest, Jean Nicholas Grou as saying: “O Divine Master, teach me this mute language which says so much.” This “mute language” Grou speaks of is the mystical “silence” practiced by contemplatives and mystics throughout all religions.

One of the key figures in the “new” progressive Christianity today is Leonard Sweet. Sweet has partnered on a number of occasions with Rick Warren and speaks at evangelical events frequently. In Sweet’s book, Quantum Spirituality, he states:

Mysticism, once cast to the sidelines of the Christian tradition, is now situated in postmodernist culture near the center. . . . In the words of one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, Jesuit philosopher of religion/dogmatist Karl Rahner, “The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something, or he will be nothing.” [Mysticism] is metaphysics arrived at through mindbody experiences. (p. 76)

How fitting that Sweet would quote a Jesuit priest’s prediction about the “Christian” of the future.

Tony Campolo, another popular figure in the evangelical church, reveals something quite interesting in his book, Letters to a Young Evangelical. In the book, he explains the role mysticism had in him becoming a Christian. He explains:

I learned about this way of having a born-again experience from reading Catholic mystics, especially The Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola. (p. 30, see “Coming to Christ Through Mysticism,” Oakland )

For skeptics who may need further evidence that Jesuit Spirituality has come into the evangelical/Protestant church, consider this. In 2006, Baker Books, one of evangelicalism’s top book publishers, released a book titled Sacred Listening: Discovering the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola written by James Wakefield. A publisher description of the book states:

Central to the Society of Jesus (Jesuits), the Spiritual Exercises is a manual used to direct a month-long spiritual retreat. Now adapting these time-honored Exercises specifically for Protestant Christians, James L. Wakefield encourages readers to integrate their secular goals with their religious beliefs and helps them reflect on the life of Jesus as a model for their own discipleship.7

Wakefield’s book, devoted to the Jesuits and Ignatian Exercises, should be proof enough that the Jesuit Agenda has entered the Christian church and that mysticism is the tool by which the Jesuit Agenda is largely being brought into the lives of countless evangelicals and Protestants. Is it any wonder Wakefield’s book found praise within the Jesuit community? Armand M. Nigro, professor emeritus at the Jesuit school, Gonzaga University, said:

As a Jesuit for 62 years, I have been formed by the Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, our principal founder. I rejoice, then, at the long-awaited publication of Sacred Listening. It will be for its readers, I hope, a classic manual for spiritual growth in genuine mystical prayer. (on back cover of book)

Incidentally, Eugene Peterson, author of The Message wrote an endorsement of Wakefield’s book on the front cover.

These are just a few of a great many examples where the “Jesuit Spirituality” has come into the Protestant church; thus this new modern (post-modern) mystical method to accomplish the goals of the papacy is working.

If Protestants and evangelicals can be convinced to practice mysticism (i.e., contemplative), this conditions them to begin embracing Rome and even all religions. It’s important to understand that mysticism is the bridge that unites all the religions of the world. In order to unite them, there would need to be a uniting, common denominator, so to speak. That common uniting medium is mysticism. Thomas Merton recognized this. In a conversation he was having with a Sufi master, the topic of Christian atonement arose. The Sufi master said this was an area they could never agree on, to which Merton replied:

Personally, in matters where dogmatic beliefs differ, I think that controversy [atonement] is of little value because it takes us away from the spiritual realities into the realm of words and ideas . . . in words there are apt to be infinite complexities and subtleties which are beyond resolution. . . . But much more important is the sharing of the experience of divine light, . . . It is here that the area of fruitful dialogue exists between Christianity and Islam.8 (Emphasis added.)

Tilden Edwards, co-founder of the Shalem Institute (where Ruth Haley Barton was educated), would agree with Merton. He said, “This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality” (Spiritual Friend, p. 18). And in a New Age book titled, As Above, So Below, the author states (quoting Aldous Huxley) that “the metaphysical [mystical] that recognizes a divine reality” is the “highest common factor” that “links the world’s religious traditions.” And even evangelical-turned-emerging author Tony Campolo recognizes this commonality in mysticism when he states: “Beyond these models of reconciliation, a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam” (pp 149-150).

Incidentally, when we say all the religions of the world uniting, we include the New Age movement (perhaps one of the largest “religions” in the world today). New Agers believe that in order to enter into an age of enlightenment (or Age of Aquarius), the world needs to become “vibrationally sympathetic,” meaning that a sufficient mass (critical mass) of people will need to engage in mystical prayer.9

The Counter Reformation Continues

Jesuit influence in the world today is everywhere: in the business world, in education, in government, and yes, in the evangelical/Protestant church. According to Contemplatives in Action: The Jesuit Way, there are over one million people living in the United States alone who have graduated from Jesuit high schools, colleges, and universities (Introduction, p. 1).

While there have often been tensions between the Pope and the Jesuit Order over various issues, the current Superior General of the Jesuit Order, Adolfo Nicolas Pachon, reassured the Jesuit commitment to Rome when he stated:

The Society of Jesus was born within the Church, we live in the Church, we were approved by the Church and we serve the Church. This is our vocation…[Unity with the pope] is the symbol of our union with Christ. It also is the guarantee that our mission will not be a ‘small mission,’ a project just of the Jesuits, but that our mission is the mission of the Church.”10

Where Else in Evangelicalism is the Jesuit Evangelism Showing Up?

Earlier this year, Understand the Times released an article titled Jerry Boykin and the Calvary Chapel Connection. It was a difficult article for many to read. People do not want to think that Christian leaders and pastors they have trusted for years would be so foolish as to associate with and promote someone who is part of a group that wants to bring the “lost brethren” back to the Mother Church. But the fact is that a high officer in the Vatican’s Jesuitical, “Knights of Malta” was a featured speaker at a Calvary Chapel sponsored Preach the Word prophecy conference.

Another example, and I believe an important one, has to do with one of the most well-known and influential evangelical organizations in America. Robert Siciro is a Protestant turned Catholic Paulist priest, and he is one of the featured speakers in the very popular Truth Project by Focus on the Family. While the Paulist Order is not a Jesuit Order, it has basically the same objective as the Jesuit order with regard to winning souls for the Catholic church. According to one Catholic source , the Paulist order is “A community of priests for giving missions and doing other Apostolic works, especially for making converts to the Catholic faith.” Robert Siciro is President of the Acton Institute, an ecumenical think tank where, incidentally, there are scores of articles by or about those in the Catholic faith, including a number of Jesuits. Now, through the Truth Project, thousands and thousands of evangelical/Protestant Christians have been introduced, by way of proxy, to the Eucharistic Evangelization.

The Fatima Plan

For those who are not convinced that we are headed toward a one-world religion for “peace,” take a trip some time to Fatima, Portugal where annual pilgrimages bring people from the religions of the world to pray to “the queen of heaven,” also called “our lady of Peace.”

Pope John Paul II was dedicated to Mary and especially “Our Lady of Fatima.” He believed this entity saved him from an assassin’s bullet on May 13, 1981, on the anniversary of the so-called apparition’s appearance (to have first occurred in 1917).

People from all around the world have been coming to Fatima to pray to “Our Lady.” At a gathering for “world peace” in Fatima, Jesuit priest Jacques Dupuis stated:

The religion of the future will be a general converging of religions in a universal Christ that will satisfy all. The other religious traditions in the world are part of God’s plan for humanity and the Holy Spirit is operating and present in Buddhist, Hindu and other sacred writings of Christian and non-Christian faiths as well. The universality of God’s kingdom permits this, and this is nothing more than a diversified form of sharing in the same mystery of salvation.11

Fatima is just another avenue through which the Jesuit Agenda is being accomplished.

In Summary

Perhaps the best way to understand the Jesuit Agenda that undermines biblical Christianity is to recognize the move toward a so-called “social gospel” that unites the religions of the world for the cause of peace. Like mysticism, this social gospel is a vehicle through which all religions will be united. Who would have believed this could have happened to the Protestant evangelical church? But we have already been warned in Scripture that Satan’s ministers are “transformed as the ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11:15).

Rick Warren has been one of the many pied pipers of this move to unite through “good works.” Called “America’s pastor,” Warren has become the evangelical/Protestant spokesperson for a one-world religion. His Purpose Driven model has become the battle cry for let just all get along and do good. We can work together as one for one common purpose – peace in the world.

Willow Creek has helped to escalate this global religious body through their Global Leadership Summits, where they are “bringing people together from all nationalities to complete our shared Kingdom assignment in the Church and beyond”12 (emphasis added). Warren and Hybel’s global agenda is moving full force throughout the earth today.

Rick Warren and Bill Hybels – protégés of Peter Drucker, by the way – have advanced the Jesuit Agenda by leaps and bounds. Many of these “new” Christianity, new reformation leaders have ignored the prophetic warnings of Jesus Christ’s soon return based on the signs we see from Bible prophecy. Instead, they promote the establishment of the kingdom of God with all the world’s religions.

The emerging church movement, which has been widely propagated by Warren, Hybels, and a host of other Christian figures, has been used by Satan to quickly bring about this worldwide deception by introducing mystical experiences and the social gospel to an entire generation of young people. Sensual experiences that tickle the flesh of the postmodern generation are often the same ones that Rome has used in the past to convince the faithful that they have encountered the God of the Bible. History reveals that history is repeating, and the same tools of delusion are being used over and over.

Those who shine the light on the Jesuit Agenda are considered to be conspiratorial crackpots. The prophets of the past when they exposed the Babylonian worship by the leaders of Israel were also deemed to be crazy, as have been Bible-believing Christians since Christianity began. One of those was John Huss (1372-1415). John Foxe describes what happened:

[Huss] compiled a treatise in which he maintained that reading the books of Protestants could not be absolutely forbidden. He wrote in defense of Wickliffe’s book on the Trinity; and boldly declared against the vices of the pope, the cardinals, and clergy of those corrupt times. He wrote also many other books, all of which were penned with a strength of argument that greatly facilitated the spreading of his doctrines. . . . 13

Eventually Huss was arrested, and when he was brought before the council (of the papacy), he was mocked and called “A ringleader of heretics,” to which he replied:

My Lord Jesus Christ, for my sake, did wear a crown of thorns; why should not I then, for His sake, wear this light crown, be it ever so shameful? Truly I will do it and willingly.14

At 43 years of age, John Hus was burned at the stake, singing hymns during the brutal execution. Why was he called a “ringleader of heretics”? For standing up for biblical truth against the Pope and Rome.

Discerning Christians should be asking many questions. But one question that stands out foremost is: why are so few saying anything about the Jesuit Agenda? Do they see it but are afraid to speak? Or do they see it and are part of it?

Speaking of questions, Jesus asked one: “[W]hen the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Will He find it in the pastors and theological professors? Will He find it in your own church? Or will He only find those who have remained silent?

Just as God raised up others to carry the torch of truth after Huss was eliminated from this earth, God will and is raising up others today who are willing to risk all to stand for the truth and speak against the lies.

To believers who are standing fast, look up, for “your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. . . . See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:6-11, 15-17)

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The Pope and The Papacy

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From Physics To Metaphysics

by Roger Oakland

Evolution, according to its biological definition, is a mechanism that changes life through time. Although for years, many have used the idea of evolution to explain away God, there are many today who are saying, because of evolution, everything is God. This trend is obvious in Great Britain, the very country where Charles Darwin authored his theory – physics has turned into metaphysics? How is this possible?

Glastonbury is situated in the southern part of England. From antiquity, Glastonbury has been known as a mystical center where numerous people have made the claim they have encountered the spiritual realm. Many and fantastic are the legends, a mythology which is still alive and growing today. Every year people go there from all over the world seeking spiritual solutions to their physical problems.

I had the opportunity to visit Glastonbury in the spring of 1997 while I was in England. I had just spent a couple of days researching the life of Charles Darwin and investigating the impact this man had on so many lives. His message, centered on natural selection and survival of the fittest, still shapes the thinking of evolutionists today. His motive, a disdain for Christianity, provides the basis for the “scientific” view there is no need for the supernatural. Today, throughout England and around the world, numerous monuments erected in his honor called “natural history museums,” project his beliefs as if he were God.

My trip to Glastonbury and Stonehenge revealed another aspect of Darwinism that most “evolutionary biologists” are not thrilled to discuss. The idea of natural selection may have been designed to explain God away, but in reality, through time, it has been the catalyst which has created an environment which has done exactly the opposite. It seems there has been a major shift in thinking over the past few decades. Our present generation has become frustrated with believing in naturalism. Now they are willing to believe that anything and everything is God.

There is no question mysticism and superstition, which modern science was supposed to have eliminated, has made a comeback in Great Britain. The shops in Glastonbury were filled with spiritual paraphernalia which would make one think we had returned to the pagan past.

At the core of these resurrected ideas was the basic belief in evolution. Man, according to the “new spirituality,” is on the verge of taking a giant leap of evolution. “Space brothers” or “spiritual guides,” whom it is believed have evolved to a “higher lever,” are waiting for us to make the leap. Meanwhile, worldly intellects are encouraged to spend their time practicing yoga, humming mantras or rubbing crystals. There are many ways to contact the “gods.”

I am fascinated with how evolution has evolved over the years – from mysticism to Darwinism then back to mysticism again. History has repeated itself, just as it has done many times before. The only thing that is unique this time is that “evolutionary mysticism” is a global religion. The Bible describes this current trend as “Christian Babylonianism.” The Bible also makes it clear that it will trigger off God’s wrath. Based upon my understanding of current events, it appears the time of God’s wrath may be soon! (from Understand the Times with Roger Oakland)

Roger Oakland is the author of Faith Undone, a compelling and well documented critique of the emerging church and the new spirituality.

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Contextual Theology – Falling from Truth through Emerging Church

By Roger Oakland

In order for the emerging church to succeed, the Bible has to be looked at through entirely different glasses, and Christianity needs to be open to a new type of faith. Brian McLaren calls this new faith a “generous orthodoxy.”1 While such an orthodoxy allows a smorgasbord of ideas to be proclaimed in the name of Christ, many of these ideas are actually forbidden and rejected by Scripture.

Doug Pagitt believes that he is part of a cutting-edge response to the new postmodern world. It’s a response he and others see as completely unique, never having been tried before in the history of man. Pagitt states:

It seems to me that our post-industrial times require us to ask new questions-questions that people 100 years ago would have never thought of asking. Could it be that our answers will move us to re-imagine the way of Christianity in our world? Perhaps we as Christians today are not only to consider what it means to be a 21st century church, but also and perhaps more importantly-what it means to have a 21st century faith.2

Many people I meet at conferences who come from a wide variety of church backgrounds tell me the church they have been attending for years has radically changed. Their pastor no longer teaches the Bible. Instead, the Sunday morning service is a skit or a series of stories. The Bible seems to have become the forbidden book. While there are pastors who do still teach the Bible, they are becoming the exception rather than the rule.

Emergent leaders often say the message remains the same, but our methods must change if we are going to be relevant to our generation. The measure of success for many pastors today is how many are coming, rather than how many are listening and obeying what God has said in His Word. Let’s consider how Doug Pagitt uses the Bible in his own church. He states:

At Solomon’s Porch, sermons are not primarily about my extracting truth from the Bible to apply to people’s lives. In many ways the sermon is less a lecture or motivational speech than it is an act of poetry-of putting words around people’s experiences to allow them to find deeper connection in their lives… So our sermons are not lessons that precisely define belief so much as they are stories that welcome our hopes and ideas and participation.3

What Pagitt is describing is a contextual theology; that is, don’t use the Bible as a means of theology or measuring rod of truth and standards by which to live; and rather than have the Bible mold the Christian’s life, let the Christian’s life mold the Bible. That’s what Pagitt calls “putting words around people’s experiences.” As this idea is developed, emerging proponents have to move away from Bible teachings and draw into a dialectic approach. That way, instead of just one person preaching truth or teaching biblical doctrine, everyone can have a say and thus come to a consensus of what the Bible might be saying. Pagitt explains:

To move beyond this passive approach to faith, we’ve tried to create a community that’s more like a potluck: people eat and they also bring something for others. Our belief is built when all of us engage our hopes, dreams, ideas and understandings with the story of God as it unfolds through history and through us.4

You may not have heard the term before, but contextual theology is a prominent message from the emerging church. In his book, Models of Contextual Theology (1992), Stephen B. Bevans defines contextual theology as:

… a way of doing theology in which one takes into account: the spirit and message of the gospel; the tradition of the Christian people; the culture in which one is theologizing; and social change in that culture, whether brought about by western technological process or the grass-roots struggle for equality, justice and liberation.5

In other words, the Bible in, and of itself, is not free-standing-other factors (culture, ethnicity, history) must be taken into consideration, and with those factors, the message of the Bible must be adjusted to fit. As one writer puts it, “Contextual theology aims at the humanization of theology.”6 But two questions need to be asked. First, will the contextualizing of Scripture cause such a twisting of its truth that it no longer is the Word of God, and secondly, is Scripture ineffective without this contextualization? To the first, I give a resounding yes! And to the second, an absolute no. The Word of God, which is an inspired work of the living Creator, is far more than any human-inspired book and has been written in such a way that every human being, rich or poor, man or woman, intelligent or challenged will understand the meaning of the Gospel message if it is presented in their native language; and thanks to the tireless work of missionaries for centuries, the Gospel in native languages is becoming a reality in most cultures today.

Dean Flemming is a New Testament teacher at European Nazarene College in Germany and the author of Contextualization in the New Testament. In his book, he defends contextual theology:

Every church in every particular place and time must learn to do theology in a way that makes sense to its audience while challenging it at the deepest level. In fact, some of the most promising conversations about contextualization today (whether they are recognized as such or not) are coming from churches in the West that are discovering new ways of embodying the gospel for an emerging postmodern culture.7

These “churches in the West” Flemming considers “most promising” are the emerging churches. He would agree with Bevans’ model of theology, but he has an answer to the emerging church’s dilemma. He states:

Many sincere Christians are still suspicious that attempts to contextualize theology and Christian behavior will lead to the compromising of biblical truth … we must look to the New Testament for mentoring in the task of doing theology in our various settings.8

There’s good reason some Christians are suspicious. But it can seem harmless at first because Flemming suggests the answer is in the New Testament, which he believes should be used as a prototype or pattern rather than something for doctrine or theology. New Testament theology is always open for change, he says, but we can learn how to develop this change by studying New Testament stories and characters. The premise Flemming presents of contextualizing Scripture is that since cultures and societies are always changing, the Word must change with it and be conformed to these changes. But I would challenge this. The Bible says the Word is living, active, and powerful:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

And if the Word is this powerful, then it is stable and eternal as well. God, in His magnificence, is the Author of Scripture, and He surpasses time, culture, and societies. Contextualizing says people and cultures change, and therefore God’s Word must change. But, on the contrary, it’s people who need to change to conform to Scripture. If we really believe that the Bible is God’s Word, this would be clear to see; but if we think to ourselves that the Word is not infallible, not inspired, then contextualization would be the obvious expectation.

While certain parts of the Bible may be read as poetry (as Pagitt suggests), for indeed the Bible is a beautifully written masterpiece, it is also a living mechanism that is not to be altered-rather it alters the reader’s heart and life. It is much more than putting words around people’s experiences as emergents suggest.

The Bible tells us God is always right; it is man who is so often wrong. When we rely upon human consensus, we will end up with man’s perspective and not God’s revelation. This is a dangerous way to develop one’s spiritual life-the results can lead to terrible deception.

Brian McLaren put it well when he admitted it isn’t just the way the message is presented that emerging church proponents want to change … it’s the message itself they are changing:

It has been fashionable among the innovative [emerging] pastors I know to say, “We’re not changing the message; we’re only changing the medium.” This claim is probably less than honest … in the new church we must realize how medium and message are intertwined. When we change the medium, the message that’s received is changed, however subtly, as well. We might as well get beyond our naivete or denial about this….9

While reaching today’s generation for the cause of Christ is something we as Christians should all desire, we must remember Jesus Christ challenged us to follow Him and be obedient to His Word. Scripture commands us to “be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). But the emergents are leading followers in the opposite direction, teaching that the Word of God needs to be conformed to people and cultures instead of allowing it to conform lives through Jesus Christ…. reimagining Christianity allows a dangerous kind of freedom; like cutting the suspension ropes on a hot air balloon, the free fall may be exhilarating but the results catastrophic.  (from Faith Undone, pp. 42-45).

Notes

1. Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan,

2004).

2. Pagitt, Church Re-Imagined, op. cit., pp. 17, 19.

3. Ibid., p. 166.

4. Doug Pagitt, Church Re-Imagined, op. cit., p. 167.

5. Stephen B. Bevans, Models of Contextual Theology (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis

Books, Seventh Printing, November 2000, http://www.cca.org.hk/resources/

ctc/ctc94-02/1.Yuzon.html), p. 1.

6. Paul L. Lehmann, “Contextual Theology” (Theology Today, Princeton

Theological Seminary, 1972, http://theologytoday.ptsem.edu/apr1972/v29-1-

editorial2.htm).

7. Dean Flemming, Contextualization in the New Testament (Downers

Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2005), p. 14.

8. Ibid, pp. 14-15.

9. Brian McLaren, Church on the Other Side, op. cit., p. 68.

Article by Roger Oakland (Understand the Times)

Received from Lighthouse Trails Research

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“Understand The Times” ministry is featured on my Links page, highly recommend the videos and the book “Faith Undone” (see Reading Room).

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