Christianity Today’s New 5 Year Teaching Series

The “Global Gospel Project”

Report by Lighthouse Trails  ~ December 7, 2011

New Age Christian—An Accepted Oxymoron




Background information from Berit: Back in 1992, when Al Gore was a vice-presidential candidate, Christianity Today endorsed him as a faithful Baptist and honorable candidate. Since I had been warned about the magazine's upcoming article months before its publication, I called Editor-in-Chief David Neff and begged him not to publish it. He ignored my warning. That same year, Gore's own best-selling book, Earth in the Balance, was published. It tells us a different story about our former vice-president's faith and his preferred deities:

"The richness and diversity of our religious tradition throughout history is a spiritual resource long ignored by people of faith, who are often afraid to open their minds to teachings first offered outside their own system of belief. But the emergence of a civilization in which knowledge moves freely and almost instantaneously throughout the world has... spurred a renewed investigation of the wisdom distilled by all faiths. This panreligious perspective may prove especially important where our global civilization's responsibility for the earth is concerned." (pp. 258-259)

"Native American religions, for instance, offer a rich tapestry of ideas about our relationship to the earth." (p. 259)

"The spiritual sense of our place in nature ...can be traced to the origins of human civilization. A growing number of anthropologists and archeo-mythologists... argue that the prevailing ideology of belief in prehistoric Europe and much of the world was based on the worship of a single earth goddess...who radiated harmony among all living things....The last vestige of organized goddess worship was eliminated by Christianity. seems obvious that a better understanding of a religious heritage preceding our own by so many thousands of years could offer us new insights."" (page 260)

"One modern Hindu environmentalist, Dr. Karan Singh, regularly cites the ancient Hindu dictum: 'The Earth is our mother, and we are all her children. . . . Guru Nanak [founder of Sikhism] said, ‘Air is the Vital Force, Water the Progenitor, the Vast Earth the Mother of All.’" (page 261)

In their December online issue, Christianity Today announced the magazine’s “new five-year teaching venture.” The announcement article, written by CT writer and senior managing editor Mark Galli, begins:

"Ongoing controversies over the nature of the Atonement (substitutionary or Christus Victor?), the historical Adam (creation or evolution?), the afterlife (heaven and hell or universalism?), the nature of the authority of Scripture (“inerrant” or “infallible” or “trustworthy”?)—among other debates . . . reveal how confused many Christians are about the basic truths of the faith, a confusion that will worsen if we don’t respond to two pressing realities."

CT’s new “Global Gospel Project” is their answer to helping Christians become less confused about these essential doctrinal issues. Galli says that the two pressing realities that are causing this confusion among Christians are 1. that we live in a post-Christian world, and 2. because of the Internet the average Christian has become confused because he has access to the beliefs of all other religions. Galli says that:

"[W]ithout being grounded in the gospel, we simply cannot live it out for long . . . With this issue of Christianity Today, we embark afresh on such an enterprise. We are calling it the Global Gospel Project (GGP), resources for a full-orbed discipleship of heart, mind, soul, and strength."

He adds:

"[N]early all catechisms have been written with one tradition or another in mind—Reformed or Baptist or Catholic and so on . . .  we also need discipleship resources that embrace a broad, centrist, and historic understanding of the faith, one that recognizes the gifts of our various traditions..."

Lighthouse Trails has strong concerns about Christianity Today’s new 5 year teaching project. Having tracked CT for nearly a decade now, we know that the magazine has been a prolific supporter and platform for contemplative spirituality and the emerging church. So in truth, they actually helped create the problem – confusion among Christians in doctrinal matters – which they say was created by outside forces, and now they are saying they have a solution to the problem.

But the problem with that is they are part of the problem. While Galli’s article says that Christians are confused because of the world in which they live, the truth is Christians are confused because Christian leaders, pastors, professors, publishing houses, and magazines are all telling Christians that they need to get on board with the contemplative/emerging bandwagon. That is what is confusing Christians – other Christians teaching New Age/New Spirituality “doctrines” and saying these teachings are biblical . . . when they are not. So it’s a bit disconcerting having witnessed CT’s role in this slide into apostasy, and now, rather than admitting their role, they are blaming everything else and saying they have the solution. This is very troubling.

As we read Galli’s article on the CT website, our eyes couldn’t help seeing advertisements, book announcements, and article titles which further increase our concerns and remind us that CT is not going to be correcting or repenting from the direction they have been going in. One billboard splashes Brian McLaren’s name across it. A rotating window at the top of the page lets readers know about wooden urns they can purchase made by Trappist monks. A ”personalized cross” blessed by the monks is also available for free if one buys one of the urns (starting at just $225 apiece). The billboard links over to the Trappist monks website, The New Melleray Abbey, where many contemplative resources are available (They even have a “discernment” weekend retreat!).

We wonder just what resources Mark Galli and CT have  in mind for the Global Gospel Project. This time last year (2010), we posted an article by Paul Proctor titled “Evangelical Church Hosts Interfaith Global Faith Forum for World’s Religions.” In that article, Proctor talks about the interfaith forum that included Mark Galli. In taking issue with this forum, Proctor stated:

"The Christian Post reported recently that NorthWood Church in Keller, Texas, scheduled a Global Faith Forum for Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists and atheists in hopes they would 'listen to one another and even build friendships.' The report stated, 'the forum isn’t a gathering of theologians to debate religions,' but instead, an 'opportunity for people of multiple faiths to get to know one another, start conversations, and learn from each other.'”

"...try and find that in your Bible. I guess the Apostle Paul blew it. Just think what he could have learned from that infamous gathering of religious diversity on Mars Hill and all of the friends he might have made if he hadn’t been so intent on preaching Christ.

“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.” – James 4:4

Well said, Mr. Proctor. Mark Galli says in this week’s CT article that we all need to “embrace a broad, centrist, and historic understanding of the faith, one that recognizes the gifts of our various traditions.” Does he mean Christian traditions? Buddhist traditions? Muslim traditions? Catholic traditions?  Emerging traditions? In 2008, The Berean Call brought up Mark Galli because of a special CT issue focusing on the Ancient-Future Church (another name for the emerging church). The Berean Call article states:

"In introducing its February 2008 feature article with a cover-page declaration, 'Lost Secrets of the Ancient Church: How evangelicals started looking backward to move forward,' CT senior managing editor Mark Galli writes:

“You might say a number of CT editors have a vested interest in this issue’s cover story. David Neff, Ted Olsen, Tim Morgan, and I have been doing the ancient-future thing for many years, at Episcopal and/or Anglican parishes. And if this were not enough immersion in the topic, in his spare time, David Neff heads up the Robert E. Webber Center for an Ancient Evangelical Future, founded by the father of the ancient-future movement.”

"Acknowledging the magazine’s inherent (and historic) bias, Galli notes that 'the ancient church has captivated the evangelical imagination for some time, [yet] it hasn’t been until recently that it’s become an accepted fixture of the evangelical landscape. And this is for the good.' That, of course, is Galli’s opinion and, sadly, a growing multitude of influential Christian leaders agree."

"Robert E. Webber, who died last year, is certainly the 'father of the ancient-future movement,' and his many books have provided encouragement and content for leaders of Emerging Church fellowships. As a Wheaton College professor for three decades, he also played a significant part in influencing that evangelical institution’s capitulation to ecumenism, particularly its support of Roman Catholicism (see TBC 7/02, 6/02 by T.A. on ECT at Wheaton)."

In a companion article this month, “Nurturing Mind and Soul,” Mark Galli, referring to the Global Gospel Project, writes: “For the next five years, we will take a more systematic and comprehensive approach to the task of forming believers in the faith.” He then tells readers that next month writers from Wheaton College and Fuller Seminary will contribute to the Global Gospel Project. Wheaton and Fuller are two of the more contemplative/emerging colleges on the scene today, but let’s take a brief look at the two contributors that CT has chosen for next month to “form believers in the faith.” You may be surprised.

Amy Black is assistant professor of politics at Wheaton College. It's interesting that CT has chosen a political professor for one of the first “resources” to help form believers in the faith. Ah, but perhaps, like in a good mystery novel, we have uncovered a possible motive for CT’s “five year plan.” 

Amy Black was part of the political emerging “conversation” that helped many evangelical Christians to know who to vote for in the last presidential election,  along with people like Shane Claiborne (Jesus for President) and Jim Wallis (God’s Politics). By the way, Black is featured on Wallis’ website and is the author of Beyond Left and Right: Helping Christians Make Sense of American Politics, which was released several months before the last presidential election. In fact, CT played a role in the seemingly subtle political maneuvers that took place in 2008 especially.

The other contributor that CT has chosen for next month’s Global Gospel Project on how to form Christians is Fuller Seminary professor Veli Kärkkäinen. Kärkkäinen has a particular emphasis on interfaith dialogue. He is the author of Christology, a Global Introduction: an ecumenical, international, and contexual perspective.  Kärkkäinen also teaches a course called TH536 The Theology of Jurgen Moltmann. Kärkkäinen actually features Moltmann in many of his writings and is considered to be an expert on Moltmann. Anyone who has read Bob DeWaay’s book, The Emergent Church, knows the significant role that Moltmann played in the formation of the emerging church. Listen to what DeWaay uncovers about Moltmann and thus the emerging church:

"In the 1960s, German theologian Jürgen Moltmann, to be rid of despair, created what he called 'a theology of hope' based on the philosophy of Friedrich Hegel, an 18th and 19th century progenitor of German Idealism. The Hegelian synthesis denies absolutes, such as absolute truth or knowledge, and instead claims that everything evolves as incompatible ideas merge into something new and better. Two incompatible opposites, such as good and evil, combine and evolve into an improved third option that surpasses both. (The Emergent Church, DeWaay, ch. 1 (Also see Herescope’s article, “Emergence Toward Convergence," for more on Moltmann)

What really lies beneath Christianity Today’s Global Gospel Project? Unfortunately, for many CT readers, they will accept CT’s project as the Gospel. But discerning Christians must ask just what gospel is Christianity Today really talking about? Rather than a biblical Gospel, is it a pseudo gospel with political and emerging objectives?

"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils." 1 Timothy 4:1

Related Articles:

Sojourners Founder Jim Wallis’ Revolutionary Anti-Christian “Gospel” (and Will Christian Leaders Stand with Wallis?)

EMERGENT MANIFESTO: Emerging Church Comes Out of the Closet

INDEX to previous LighthouseTrails reports

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