Excerpts from

No Repentance from Willow Creek

Only a Mystical Paradigm Shift

Lighthouse Trails  11-15-07


Emphasis added in bold letters


Recently, headlines about Willow Creek filled the home pages of several online news outlets. The caption stated: "A Shocking Confession from Willow Creek Community Church." Some wondered if Willow Creek's pastor Bill Hybels was repenting from past errors in ministry techniques.1 But a Lighthouse Trails commentary showed that this "shocking confession" was actually a re-enforcement of Willow Creek's efforts to "transform this planet" through contemplative and emerging spiritualities. The LT commentary stated:

"It is no new thing that Willow Creek wishes to 'transform the planet.' They are part of the emerging spirituality that includes Rick Warren and many other major Christian leaders who believe the church will usher in the kingdom of God on earth before Christ returns. This dominionist, kingdom-now theology is literally permeating the lecture halls of many Christian seminaries and churches, and mysticism is the propeller that keeps its momentum. If Willow Creek hopes to transform the planet, they won't be able to get rid of the focus on the mystical (i.e., contemplative). Their new Fall 2007 Catalog gives a clear picture of where their heart lies, with resources offered by New Age proponent Rob Bell, contemplative author Keri Wyatt Kent, and the Ancient Future Conference with emerging leaders Scot McKnight and Alan Hirsch as well as resources by Ruth Haley Barton and John Ortberg. Time will tell what Willow Creek intends to do about strengthening its focus on "spiritual practices" and "transform[ing] the planet."

Well, it appears it isn't going to take a lot of time to see what their future intentions look like. The most current issue (Fall 2007) of Willow Creek's magazine... gives a clear view of the organization's spiritual emphasis. The issue titled Ministry Shifts has a subtitle that says: "The landscape of our ministries is shifting. Brace yourself for the aftershocks."

Article titles in this Willow issue certainly make a statement that things are going to change: "Seismic Shifts," "Rediscovering Spiritual Formation," "Stemming the Tide," "The Changing Face of Worship," "Shifts in Missional Mindset," and "The Next Great Debate." With such commitment to change, it's no wonder Willow Creek supports Brian McLaren, who is currently on his "Everything Must Change" tour (named for his new book).

In the first article, "Seismic Shifts," the message is straightforward: "Change or die. ... If the local church refuses to change, it will die. ... But the winds of change are blowing. Leaders and entire congregations are making the choice to try something new. They are looking at the world, culture, norms and trends and they are daring to take a chance, venture a risk, find another way." Bell explains that the other articles in the issue give "snapshots" of how the church is now shifting.

In the first article to follow, "Rediscovering Spiritual Formation," meditation promoter Keri Wyatt Kent writes positively about "monastic communities" and "the emergent church."... She correctly states that while there are some "conservative" Christians who are suspect of spiritual formation, by and large the term and "the practices" have become "mainstream." These practices, of course, are the mystical practices that are the energy behind the spiritual formation movement.

Kent identifies Scot McKnight as part of this mystical shift. McKnight acknowledges the Catholic connection to contemplative practices, and amazingly, Kent brings into her article Catholic priest Richard Rohr. Why amazing? Rohr's spirituality would be in the same camp as someone like Matthew Fox who believes in pantheism and panentheism. For Willow Creek to include him in Willow speaks volumes about the level of spiritual deception that Willow Creek is now under.... Richard Rohr wrote the foreword to a 2007 book called How Big is Your God? by Jesuit priest (from India) PaulCoutinho. In Coutinho's book, he describes an interspiritual community where people of all religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity) worship the same God. Is this where Willow Creek is heading?

While the Willow issue says that they are not moving away from biblical principles, nothing could be further from the truth. For those reading this who may be new to the terms contemplative prayer and spiritual formation, it is quite simple. A mantric-style meditation is practiced so that the pray-er can enter a silent, altered state, which supposedly allows him or her to hear God's voice and be transformed. However, because the premise of contemplative prayer is panentheistic (God in all), it is actually occultic in nature....

Keri Wyatt Kent... explains: "Spiritual formation is not a passing fad, but it does continue to shift and to change as the Church and its people grow." Of course, what this really means is that where once the true nature of contemplative had to be disguised, more and more it can come out of the closet. No passing fad here. Contemplative is pure New Ageism, the devil's religion to put it bluntly....

Read the full report at: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletter111507.htm

To understand contemplative spirituality and the emerging church, read A Time of Departing and Faith Undone.

More information: Emergent Manifesto & Yoga, Mysticism & Moody Bible Institute

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