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Posts Tagged ‘donald miller’

My husband recently commented to a high school friend who was posting about Blue Like Jazz on facebook.  He sent him an article from Lighthouse Trails.  The friend responded that both sides were “brothers and sisters in Christ.”  Basically, we can disagree, but the open minded of us will not fight about it.  More of a…”you are being closed minded” argument.

Can both be right?  Can Lighthouse Trails point out Donald Miller’s heresy and this all be a “well we’re all one in the Spirit and we’re all Chrisitans so it’s okay?”  I say no.  I say the Lighthouse Trails editors and contributors cannot be on the same page as Donald Miller.  They are not “brothers and sisters” they are enemies. 

Now my huband has to do more than forward an article, he has to point out error in a book neither of us is interested in owning.  Lovely.  But then again, will it do any good?  Maybe not today, but seeds can be planted and hopefully one day God will show my husband’s friend the error.  It happens sometimes.

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An elder recently told me my former pastor who used Donald Miller’s story theme in his sermon as well as using the same terms as Michael Frost while presenting missional lamented our critique of his sermon.  He commented that it was strange to have a critique like ours when he had finally used “contemporary authors.”  He also commented that he could buy into one idea of an author without becoming like them entirely…truth is truth.  In other words, he could buy into the idea of “story” taught by emergent leaders and yet not be emergent himself.  This may be so, but I don’t buy it.  He used terms in different sermons such as wholly other,  at one ment, god consciousness, and christ coursing through (his) veins.  Those terms were not all scripted, but some were boldly written into sermon notes.  I believe he has not only bought the story idea from Donald Miller, he has become a lot like Donald Miller.  He has himself become very much emergent (or whatever we can call them, I think New Age is probably the proper term).  He has likely had a mystical experience or several.  I cannot be certain, but I believe he didn’t just pick up that one single idea.

Suppose he did agree with this one concept of “story.”  I find it offensive enough by itself.  God is not writing a story when he deals in our lives.  We cannot “take the pen” and write our own story.  How crazy is this?  We are not part of a story, we are part of God’s creation and our lives are real if only a vapor.  What’s more, Christ is real and not a character in a play God created.  He’s not a even God acting in our world.  How ridiculous.  Christ died for our real sins, and we are made alive in Him for real if we have real faith which He gave to us as a gift.  It’s not just a story which we can write better if we would just try.  Our job is not writing some story, our life is meant to give glory to God.  We fall short every day, but by the grace of God and by His mercy, we are saved, forgiven.  We who repent and who rely on God for His salvation are not just characters, we are His people. 

Beyond this, suppose I read a book written by a Mormon.  I find something I like in the book.  Am I to quote this author from the pulpit without some sort of disclaimer?  Would it not be better to quote the Bible itself if the concept was true?  I believe it’s unwise for a leader in the church to go around quoting people without carefully considering who they are quoting and what that person believes.  Also, it’s important to clarify if you only “buy into” one part of their beliefs to the congregation.  If you are trying to distance yourself from the emergent church, it’s wise if you use emergent authors to state what is good in the quote you are using (it was actually most of a sermon) and to point out the error for the congregation.  Just my opinion.

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Moving on in this electronic world is hard.  It’s hard not to listen online, hard not to see people people online either.  We have chosen to leave our former church, but so far the issue hasn’t left us.  When I was overheard, this prompted a call to the pastor and a call to us (I assume it was me as I can think of where I would have been and who I was with…when I was speaking openly in public).  His statement is that the church has denounced emergent and is not headed in an emergent direction.  He says we base our information on a few sermons by a different pastor.  He also says they let go of one youth pastor, but though “we talked about Nooma videos he showed” (which we never did talk about and we weren’t aware) he wanted us to be discreet about that and thought we discussed that discreetness…uhmmmm.  We never had that conversation and thank you for proving our point.  Noomas in the youth is another sign of clear emergent leanings.  Oh, and the pastor says they let several staff members go because of financial reasons, not for the Noomas.  So they may have confronted emergent verbally, but do they see it in their staff?  Pastor claims “emergent” is dying.  Well, the terms may have changed, but the shift of churches is not dying. 

To his credit, his sermons do use scripture very much.  I don’t think Rick Warren is the same as Doug Pagitt.  I do not think Dallas Willard is the same as McLaren.  I do believe they are on a similar path, to change church and to focus on emergent youth OR on self and disciplines from Catholic mystics.  This may not be emergent.  I see other authors label it something else, contemplative something or other…maybe it’s contemplative spiritual disciplines.  To be clear, the church we attended hasn’t come out with contemplative prayer.  It has come out with spiritual formation.  This term alone links back to monks in caves hundreds of years ago.  These monks chanted and used breathing techniques as well as repetition to “meditate.”  Requirements of silence, fasting, and the like for a supposed deeper relationship with God are part of this spiritual discipline thing, as well as spiritual formation.  If the church has a spiritual formation pastor, and plans on lectio divina (as spoken by the pastor’s own mouth) and wants to follow the plans of Dallas Willard, and impliments “moments of silence” often, calls people to fast (not wrong to fast by the way, but it’s part of a larger picture here) then they are part of a movement that is not Biblical.  Focusing on this for spiritual transformation, methods and means not practiced by the disciples themselves.  I would say choosing to be disciplined is not a bad thing.  Saying you need it for deeper relationship with Christ is not accurate.  Discipline can make our Christian lives easier, can make memorization easier, and can help us to start our day in prayer.  Altering breathing, sitting in silence with no activity, these things are strange and unbibical in the context of trying to get closer to God.  Making an effort to give a sacrifice to God in our day is not wrong, as long as we realize our sacrifices are not worthy but God is gracious and merciful and can be pleased by us if we are humble and contrite (which cannot be manufactured).  Service is also a part of the spiritual formation movement.  Service in Christian life in itself is good.  However, service as a way to “get closer to God” is not.  I believe what is wrong with spiritual formation is it’s all flipped.  Service for others flows FROM the compassion we gain in Christ.  We are first made new creatures.  We have to recognize we still have a sin nature.  At any rate, our pastors from our former church were heavy into the spiritual formation books, mostly Dallas Willard. 

The one pastor who was most obvious in his sermons doesn’t make the head pastor bat an eye.  He sees no scary connections when Frost, Miller, and others are quoted.  He doesn’t even ruffle when he’s told about the “christ conciousness” or “christ coursing through my veins” or “you are little christs.”  He even defended the “little christ” comment.  He mentioned lectio divina, he defended Dallas Willard and suggested we read his books.  He defended the teaching by Steve Smith when he visited the church…the teaching that Lazarus had grave clothes and our grave clothes are life’s trials and burdens.  This teaching was strange, and bothered me a great deal and the pastor mentioned lectio divina after these stating, “it’s been around since the reformation.”  

Another pastor we spoke to said if our former church has denounced emergent doctrine and that was our complaint, we couldn’t leave then.  Well, we may not have brought out we don’t agree with following Warren’s P.E.A.C.E. plan and we may have only mentioned Dallas Willard, but our issue is with these things too.  We also feel, and it’s hard to define exactly, but that the lead pastor is manipulative and really makes me personally nervous.  Anyone who knew we were having a meeting with the man said, “good luck.”  He is intimidating.  This alone is a red flag of warning.  In general, people give the impression they don’t really feel safe with him or may feel he’s overbearing.  Don’t know if I can pin it down.  I know I personally have been friendly to him, he’s been friendly back.  He just seems much like a man trying to proove something.  I have met men like him, if I were in single land (before marriage) I would have known two things.  This man would never choose someone like me to date, and I would never choose him.  I feel like he’d be a guy who I would fight with.  I feel like I’d be expected to act a certain way in the home.  He’s not necessarily someone who oppresses women, don’t get me wrong.  I just get that feeling when around some men, that I wouldn’t mix with him.  Usually these guys are driven and goal oriented, intelligent.  However, they seem to be demanding and perfectionistic.  It’s not authority, it’s something else.  Now this is just speculation on my part…please don’t misunderstand.  I’m not saying he’s a bad man or anything, just most people don’t say he’s sweet. 

Oh, see, I’ve titled this “moving on” and I cannot move on.  That is my problem.  I have got to find a way to get this out of me, let it go.  How do you let go when you think a church is being led in the wrong direction?

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I actually believe our former pastor may mention our names at least in an elder meeting.  Because one of us was overheard talking about the church, I just wonder what will come of it?  During the call, my husband shared that he cannot possibly stop telling people who ask why we left the church honestly what he thinks.  The pastor then said something like, “so likewise, I can share about you spreading rumors and saying things we don’t agree with.”  My husband said he didn’t care what they say.   It may have not been that harsh, really, from the pastor.  It was what I thought my husband said, but it was along those lines.  At any rate, I wonder if there will be some sort of larger group that will hear about this?  At any rate, it is what it is. 

I don’t believe we ever said the former church was 100% emergent.  I do believe we said there were emergent phrases and authors popping up in sermons, and that the youth camp was emergent.  The type of prayer has been mentioned as a problem to pastors, one even contacted the youth camp to get the example of prayer off the web site stating it’s not Biblical.  Last time I checked, it’s still there.   The pastor told my husband about Noomas being shown to the youth…and this was not something we’d ever heard.  It was in the context of, “I thought we agreed to be discreed about [minister X] and the Noomas.”  Huh.  So, though it wasn’t my husband who had this discussion, and I don’t recall us talking about minister X, someone has AND at least one Nooma has been shown to youth somewhere, somehow through this church.  Yet there is denial of emergent creeping in?  The pastor still was frustrated that we made connections based on who was quoted in sermons.  Okay, truthfully, it wasn’t just quotes.  A sermon was framed right from Donald Miller’s stuff.  I heard a podcast and the idea came directly from the podcast of Miller’s.  Even if only one pastor on staff was saying this stuff, it shows he is into emergent teaching and he promoted it right from the pulpit.  To NOT address this is wrong.  So, yeah, since that pastor is still on staff, there is an emergent element in our former church. 

One thing that has been true of our former church is they have been on the Warren P.E.A.C.E. plan.  So, I guess we can call them what?  Seeker friendly?  The pastors all read Dallas Willard and many recommended his works to me to read.  So, we can call the church what?  Contemplative/Spiritual Formation influenced?  The church itself uses terms like “Bible based” and “Missional.”  So, it’s an emergent/contemplative/Spirtual Formation/Missional/Bible influence church.  ECSFMBIC

Of course, we’re supposed to never say this church is emergent because that movement is dying, according to what the former pastor said.  Huh.  Bet there was a day when someone thought the Mormon church was dying too when it was in it’s early years.  Of course, renaming yourself or infiltrating churches through the back door, and many times through the front, doesn’t make you a “church” so much as it makes the churches you.  But, no, pastor…it’s not dying.  It’s doing what it has been made to do, it’s evolving.

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I’ve been told by someone that yes, Rob Bell, Pagitt, Foster…Donald Miller are Emergent and the practices/statements they make are not Biblical, but Warren/Hybels, Dallas Willard, and even Brennan Manning are good guys and not into that stuff.  They are not in the same league, according to some.  They say the associations are weak.  Maybe they are on different paths when it comes to religion, but I think not (especially Brennan Manning).  I believe Warren/Hybels teachings are like entry drugs.  Maybe it’s an easy smoke or a pill to pop.  They are not hard core up front, but still are stepping into false teachings.  People will say, “no one is perfect, no person is a perfect preacher or writer.”  True, but I believe there are people who make mistakes and then there are those who are misleading many, many and not changing or willing to hear that they are misleading though the evidence is there.  Of course, I’m told I have to be willing to hear and maybe I’m the one not listening.  I believe Willard comes with his spiritual formation and disciplines as a bridge (like a bit harder drug, don’t know personally so I don’t know what would be an inbetween drug).  Then, when you’re hooked, you might actually go for some  Mike King, Manning (who appears to be nice on the surface too), Pagitt, Bell, and more.  Eventually, you might actually become a Buddist Christ follower.  Why not, you’ve already gone this far.  Of course, I’m sure your children will become agnostic/atheists.  After all the confusion, how could they not? 

Of course, I could be jumping to conclusions…especially since I am talking about associations and possibly misunderstand contemplative prayer.  Though it looks and sounds like meditation (new age type) because it’s centered around a verse or the name of Jesus, it couldn’t possibly be bad, right?  (sarcasm)

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My husband is out there working, and out and about, has run into a few pastors from our old church.  One pastor spoke to him a bit.  We’re attending a church regularly (by no means becoming members because we have to really examine it).  The pastor and my husband spoke about it, and the pastor told us it was a good fit for our family and a healthy place to be.  He then spoke of the letter (he was one on the list we sent it to) and told my husband what is most important is “your perception.”  An elder told us what was important was that our family found a church we were comfortable in, find a church that’s best for our family.  Wow.  So basically, it’s the “if that’s how you see it it’s okay, go ahead and go to another church.”  It’s sort of a nice way of saying what we brought up doesn’t matter, really.  It’s just our perception of things.  So, since our “perception” is not reality to them, are we just plain crazy?  I don’t think it was our perception that heard the pastor quote Donald Miller and Michael Frost, both of whom are pretty deep into either emergent/contemplative or missional programs.  Michael Frost defined missional in a conference I watched on YouTube (got the context this way) and he said a church centered around missional does not think that worship is the organizing principal, nor fellowship, nor evangelism.  No, it’s the mission of God (as defined by what person or person?) that’s the organizing principle in these missional churches.  Okay, how am I to perceive this?

We have a meeting Monday morning with the lead pastor of the old church.  I do not have any idea how we’re to prepare other than to pray.  I do not want to organize a point by point and sit and tell him things that are wrong.  I feel our letter was pretty direct and he didn’t address much in it that we did hear and see and read in transcript of one sermon his co-pastor preached.  He eventually said that the pastors’ sermons were not full of men’s quotes, not emergent in nature, and did not take Christ out of the central focus.  It’s true, this lead pastor does preach less quotes of men, and he uses scripture.  I don’t really know for sure that this pastor’s sermons were off by a lot.  He did talk about the Nephalim, said things like the angels brought the gospel…a few unusual quotes here or there.  He has preached on contending for the faith in the meantime asking people not to be “Bible Police.”  What?  He does use a lot of illustrations like having an actual boat on stage, or other props (not always a problem though, the visual is effective at times).  One previous member has noted that the focus of the sermons is can at times be how we can use the word of God, or other aspects of the Christian life (like prayer) to get something we want.  Usually, that something is a noble thing like we can feel good by serving others, we can grow our church by reaching the emergent youth, we can pass down Christianity by taking this “young adults are leaving” the church seriously.  We can reach the world and change the world if we only plan and have a vision and then follow that vision.  Plan big plans and make big goals, and there you have it, success.  This is interesting, because I’m not sure Moses had big plans and goals.  I think God had the plans, and Moses was just to obey.  In fact, men’s big plans were never what gets success (as defined by God) but what did get across what God wanted was obedience to Him.  Now, if he wanted to show His glory, God also used disobedience in contrast with obedience.  Look at Pharoah, God used his hard heart to bring glory to himself and also to attain His end.  So, really, what causes “success” is God.  Period.  A pastor may end up with an empty church, and somehow (not in human terms but in God’s way) this could actually be success to God.  This is because God is knows what He is doing.  How successful was Noah when the whole world except his family had to be drowned?  Who failed there?  It certainly wasn’t God’s failure.  So, in terms of pointing out problems in the meeting, I can only say we may point out that the references to vision and plan can be misleading.  We have to seek for God’s plan in things…but maybe not in the big picture as He might not share this with us (okay, we have the BIG picture of Christ’s return, but I mean big in terms of what our lifetime has to do with the whole thing).  However, we do have God’s word for our conduct.  When events occur that push us into God’s bigger plans (if He chooses us for that), then we have His word to guide us.  We can pray and we can get counsel from believers.  We trust God, and we press forward.  It may be that we are killed, or have to have church underground.  It may be that we are starving or in prison.  It may be that we’re just in a holding pattern, living a certain way for a long time as the Israelites did in Egypt.  Hundreds of years and several generations before God made a bigger move.  Years before the Egyptians got worried and then made them slaves.  Years more before they were freed to go to the promised land.  Years of wandering in the desert.  Years and years, when it may have seemed no one had any success.  But God was not unsuccessful through all that.  And in our lives, it’s not OUR vision and OUR plans, it’s not even exciting events.  It’s not our testimony, our story, or our anything.  It may be God’s will that I am a mother, and teach my children.  It ma;y be his will that I live long, and not much happens in my lifetime.  I have to be obedient in my life whether I am meant for leadership and large evident changes, or whether I just have laundry to do for my family.

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I spent a few weeks on the letter to my pastors.  It was one of the most difficult things I have written in that I wanted so much to convey my thoughts and my concerns.  I wanted it to be a warning, and to be specific enough to get the point across.  I wanted the letter to express our family’s love for our church.  My rough draft had too much wishy washyness, I believe.  I filtered the letter through a few people, one was a man who helped by making it less female but he kept the word “feelings” in there and I had to get that out.  This was not a matter of feelings, it was a matter of conviction or truth.  What I feel about something on chruch doctrine doesn’t matter.  What I see that was happening and if it matches up with the truth of scripture does.  In the end, I used the quote from lighthousetrails.com on the last post.  I added a few more.  I pretty much drew a line from my pastor, to Donald Miller, to the New Age movement.  I also added a quote on the definition of missional by Michael Frost from a youtube speech he gave at a conference.  I shared our concerns from this definition that takes the focus of the church off of Christ and puts all energy, and centrality on mission.  I then shared a few confusing things my pastors have said in sermons.  Phrases like “god consciousness” and “wholly other” and “christ coursing through your veins” just don’t come from normal Christian jargon nor from the Bible itself.  It only takes a short Google search to discover them in New Age or other religions.

I also took the advice of one pastor I had spoken to and showed what our church was missing, the Bible.  I used many quotes, and also looked up “preach” on .  It was VERY helpful.  Acs is full of references to preaching.    The early church “preached the word,” “preached the good news of the kingdom” “preached in the synogogues that Jesus is the Son of God” and on and on.  They preached about Jesus, and the kingdom of God and guess what?  Church grew.  That’s the model.  Later, when they had a community built up, they assigned some to be deacons and to serve in the churches to meet the needs of the widows and orphans.  So that is legitimate, the church should have it’s people who preach, it’s people who meet the needs within itself.  As Christians we’re called to do good to our neighbors, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and those in prison.  This is good too….but now I’m rambling on.  I didn’t include all that in the letter.  I did though list a few Acts references to preach as I feel our pastors spend time on topics/books of men rather than the Bible, the good news of Jesus, etc. 

I also shared my concern with the church being involved in the youth camps/missions in our area.  It’s probably going to be the first time anyone complained about the youth camps.  I did not give references except to say we researched and the leadership of the camps is into meditation in the eastern form.  I think I said enough that the pastors themselves could investigate.  I heard a sermon by the leader himself by podcast, and he outlined several ways to medidate and lectio divina, also using a prayer rope, and praying the Jesus prayer (Christ have mercy) over and over again.  He says he teaches this at his camps, and at one point mentions the numbers of youth I think 25,000 affected by his camps plus 5,000 camp leaders.  I didn’t go into detail, but if I get a call or something I’ll share the link with the pastors so they can know what this man is about.  I do not think anyone will though. 

I feel for my pastor I’ve been talking to.  He is hoping we get some sort of response.  He may not like the response.  This job is his livelyhood, his wife doesn’t work that I know of except maybe for lessons.  He is in a tight spot for sure.  Of course, maybe someone will see it…at any rate I let the pastors know they each had the letter (four of them total…we have many more on staff).  This was calculated.  I want them to be able to openly discuss the letter, and to discuss us as they please.  I want to free them from the worry of gossip and let them share their thoughts.  I also stated in the letter I hoped that it edified the whole body of our church.  If people want to openly talk about this issue, I have no problems.  Our church usually keeps things confidential.  I do not think it’s unhealthy to do this.  But in this instance, so much is so quiet.  We decided to leave, so it’s not harming us…they cannot kick us out for our observations.  We cannot be disciplined.  If we do decide to go back, things will have had to change anyway. 

I feel relief and a bit of anticipation as the pastors will be discussing this soon, I am sure. 

in tags, I’m not sure using the term emergent is off, but I think our church had been growing into one.  I think that’s what Warrenite churches grow into when they grow up a bit (maybe early teen years)…emergent.  Later, they just probably become something else as everything is still in shift.

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