Month: July 2016

Missing the Gospel

“We have to deal with men who will be either lost or saved, and they certainly,

will not be saved by erroneous doctrine.

We have to deal with God, whose servants we are, and

He will not be honored by our delivering falsehoods;

neither will he give us a reward, and say,

“Well done, good and faithful servant,

thou hast mangled the gospel as judiciously as any man that ever lived before thee.” Spurgeon

Since it’s inception in 2000, Seth Barnes has written hundreds of entries on his blog.  In spite of this readers are hard pressed to find a clear statement of the Gospel message anywhere in his posts.  Though his testimony sounds legitimate, the Gospel is elusive in all of his subsequent writings. 

The spread of the Gospel should be the heart and joy of any true mission organization and it’s absence at AIM speaks volumes.  Based on his blog, Seth doesn’t seem to understand the magnitude of the mercy God shows sinners, the necessity for Christ’s sacrifice, and the triumph of the resurrection. God is not acknowledged as holy and worthy of praise.  There is no mention of gratitude for the wrath and eternal punishment from which we have been saved and for the eternal life we have been given based on no merit of our own. He says very little of any lives being changed by this Gospel.

Consider these blog posts by Seth that would seem provide a perfect opportunity for a Gospel presentation.

What does it mean to be born again?

Seth writes, “So it is for all of us who would move from a life pattern of meeting personal, lower-order physical needs to a life patterned after a different set of spirit-based principles. It is never easy or fast. After all, our brains are hard-wired according to the pattern of physical need-meeting. Neural pathways reinforced by years of habitual hand-to-mouth living must be rewired. Awareness of the possibility alone does not change behavior.”

The Gospel is simply not that confusing. “[Being born again] is simply a term that describes the necessity that a person receive a new birth, a new life, a new nature, a new disposition, a new character, a new mind from God and that person makes no contribution to that…This analogy is very instructive, very simple, very basic; really should not be misunderstood at all. To enter the kingdom of God, whatever it is you may have accomplished morally, religiously, ritually, ceremonially in terms of human goodness is immaterial because you can’t contribute anything to your birth spiritually, any more than you contributed to your birth physically…Let me tell you what you can do. You can do what any sinner can do, you can ask…you can ask God in His mercy and in His grace to give you life. And mystery of mysteries, Jesus said, “Him that comes to Me, I will never turn away.” “Seek and you shall find. Ask and it shall be given. Knock, the door will be opened.” That’s the mystery of it all. source

Acts 20:29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them

Searching for God This is a sad post devoid of any hope and complete lack of recognition or mention of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Orphan spirit?? There is no use of the words sin, repentance, redemption, cross, or JESUS for that matter.  Instead Seth says,

“The antidote to an orphan spirit is to see over and over again that your needs will in fact be met, and so begin to change the neural wiring in your brain”

Poor in Spirit In this post, the term is grossly misunderstood and misinterpreted by Seth.

A right description would be, “The poor in spirit are those who recognize their total spiritual destitution and their complete dependence on God. They perceive that there are no saving resources in themselves and that they can only beg for mercy and grace. They know they have no spiritual merit, and they know they can earn no spiritual reward. Their pride is gone, their self-assurance is gone, and they stand empty-handed before God.” source

 Concerning the lack of the Gospel at AIM another blogger writes,

“Even more disturbing is the idea that AIM sees no distinction between their panentheistic, God-in-everything view and the pagan God-in-everything view found in the countries, presumably, where AIM is trying to reach people with the good news of the gospel.  

One has to wonder, then, what AIM’s “gospel message” is.  For instance: Do they explain that all men are born wretched and depraved? (no “divine inner spark”)…Do they teach about the pre-eminent holiness of God?…Do they tell of the exclusive nature of Christ? …Do they explain that without Christ’s atoning death, there is no union with God?”  source

 

Mentors, Influences, Praiseworthy Men

On several occasions Seth Barnes has blogged about authors whose writings have influenced him. 

His posts on the most transformative books he has read  part 1and part 2 include books written by false teachers Bill Johnson and Peter Wagner, as well as mystics Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, and Frederick Buechner.

In his post titled 11 Books in 11 Months Seth lists books that he feels will help young people on the World Race grow spiritually during their 11 months abroad.  His list includes many of the same authors. (Interesting that he puts his own book on the list)

For those who are not familiar with some of these authors/teachers, information is provided below.

Bill Johnson of Bethel Church:

  • Bill’s theology embraces a doctrine that teaches that during His earthly ministry Jesus operated only as a man and not God. Johnson claims that Christ laid aside His divinity. Johnson says, “He performed miracles, wonders, and signs, as a man in right relationship to God . . . . not as God. If He performed miracles because He was God, then they would be unattainable for us”
  • Seth quoting Bill Johnson: “Our hearts know there is much more to life than we perceive with our senses; we are spiritually agitated by our lack of connection with the realm of the supernatural.”
  • Praise  “Bill Johnson is a favorite of racers.”

Peter Wagner-New Apostolic Reformation founder and “apostle and prophet”

  • Founder of the Wagner Institute is an international network of apostolic training centers…to meet the needs of leaders who have become a part of the New Apostolic reformation…….new teaching paradigm—impartation and activation—coupled with world-class instruction from proven apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers in an intimate classroom setting…
  • quote Seth says, “The book of “Acts” (by Peter Wagner)  is the best text on missions ever written…As a missionary and as the father of five, I took my kids through it over the course of a year”

Todd Bentley-NAR anointed- “apostle and prophet”

  • Praise from Seth “My initial opinion was more strongly focused around Bentley’s flaws, but since then I’ve moderated my perspective with the understanding that God doesn’t have servants who have fixed their sin issue, so he uses the flawed servants who are available and hungry…Whatever else he was, Bentley was hungry and available.  The issue is not, “Did God show up and change lives through what Bentley ignited in Lakeland?”  The answer to that question is “yes…be prepared to also consider the good fruit that he has produced there. To do otherwise is to risk missing God.” video of Lakeland

Jack Deere (Former Professor, Dallas Theological Seminary)

“Jack Deere believes the sufficiency of Scripture is a demonic doctrine, undermining our ability to hear His audible voice …”one of Satan’s most successful attacks has been to develop a doctrine that teaches God no longer speaks to us except through the written word. Ultimately, this doctrine is demonic even though Christian theologians have been used to perfect it.”  1990 Conference by Jack Deere, Cited by Mark Thompson in The Briefing, April 24, 1990

Frederick Buechner (American writer and theologian)

 What is the meaning of a Christian?  In his book Listening To Your Life, Christian author Frederick Buechner provides us with his compelling view on this question:
“… it is possible to be on Christ’s way and with his mark upon you without ever having heard of Christ, and for that reason to be on your way to God though maybe you don’t even believe in God.”

Seth on Buechner’s Listening to your life “I just love to read Buechner – he is so deep. This book is like a “greatest hits” of his other writings…I don’t know if it’s possible for wisdom to rub off just by reading it over and over, if it is, then put this one next to your Bible.”

There are also several websites/blogs/magazines that Seth recommends on his blog.  Information on these listed below. 

Wrecked.org

Wrecked is another website run by Seth Barnes. (Looks like this is not an easily accessible page any longer when on their site. Hopefully this link will continue to work, the quotes below are copied from it.)He links to this site at bottom of the  Adventures website as a related site.  Here is how they describe friends.

“Friends-Wrecked for the Ordinary is a non-profit group dedicated to sharing stories about radical faith lifestyles. We depend on partners and friends for advertising and support.

These outstanding friends share a similar vision of pursuing a life of faith.

Several have helped us over the course of this project in one way or another other, and we love them for that. And many of these organizations are action-oriented justice sites, so check them out and plug in.”

Listed are Geez Magazine and Donald Miller.

 **As an update(11/5/16) , Seth is no longer listed as an author, however this link shows that Wrecked is published by Adventures in Missions as their online magazine.

Friends with Geez Magazine

Geez magazine describes itself as an online magazine that inspires “holy mischief in an age of fast faith.”…It’s called “Geez, “an exasperated exclamation derived from Jesus’ name that some Christians consider to be blasphemous.” The editor of Geez, Aiden Enns, reflects 

“My faith development took a hit when I abandoned objective truths such as Jesus is Lord. I still believe there is truth, but it shifts. Truth retracts and expands as we discover problems with what we praise as truth. This obliges me to withdraw my allegiance to old (but still alive) truths such as male superiority, heterosexism, and the multiple underpinnings of oppression.”

There are quite a few articles and references to the homosexual lifestyle and advocates of homosexual indocrination . Geez also writes about the feminist and gender confusion agenda denouncing God’s plan for marriage and gender.

The links in this chain of the mystical are never ending…also at Seth’s Wrecked blog one of his co-authors, Megan, states she is…

“Easily excited at any mention of self-awareness, honest truth, inner healing, and radical living. Dreams of enlightening others about the Enneagram as a tool for spiritual growth and writing books on practical tools for spiritual formation.” Here are some warnings about the Enneagram

Donald Miller, an emergent author and  friend of Seth’s also linked to on Wrecked as “sharing a similiar vision”, He denies total depravity stating people are basically good, this makes sense with  this information about Miller and the Enneagram This article states,

“The Enneagram is something that is promoted as a tool for assessing one’s personality traits. More insidiously, however, it has at its root some very troubling New Age theology; chiefly, the idea that all people are born with a Divine inner spark. Rather than being Christian in nature, this view of the Divine inner spark is distinctly eastern and panentheistic”…and “The closest thing the Enneagram has to the Christian concept of sin is that “unprocessed pain” (not sin) results in one’s life not running as smoothly as one wishes. This is in distinct contrast to the biblical understanding of sin, and is actually more Buddhist in theology than Christian”

Mysticism influences AIM

Seth Barnes’ blogs praise the mystics and encourages racers to learn from them and their methods. 

During his (Thomas’) last years, he became deeply interested in Asian religions, particularly Zen Buddhism, and in promoting East-West dialogue. After several meetings with Merton during the American monk’s trip to the Far East in 1968, the Dalai Lama praised him as having a more profound understanding of Buddhism than any other Christian he had known.”

(We are not sure that is the praise a “Christian” should desire)

  • Richard Rohr is a Franciscan priest who founded the Center for Action and Contemplation.  In January, 2008 Rohr was a “presenter” at Jesus and Buddha: Paths to Awakening.  Rohr taught the equality of Buddha with Christ.

Seth on Richard Rohr “Among other things, we need to search the Scriptures as an aid  to growth and we need to interact with men like Rohr whom God has blessed with spiritual insight.” (…an aid?? how about the source)

  • Henry Nouwen is a Catholic mystic and universalist.  Seth says of one of his books, “… Nouwen himself has been a mentor thru books like this one.” Nouwen says in his book Sabbatical Journey, “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.

Seth:Why I love Henri Nouwen “We don’t lack information or access to it – what we lack is the means by which to sort it all and make sense of it. That’s the job of wisdom. And that’s why I love Henri Nouwen….He’s one of the wisest writers around. I get his morning devotional email and every morning, it’s amazing what he can do with a paragraph or two.”

 

Pagan and Mystical Influence-some background

1 Tim 4:1-“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared.”

What is Mysticism?

Benjamin B. Warfield states, in his paper, Mysticism and Christianity,

We may be mystics, or we may be Christians. We cannot be both. And the pretension of being both usually merely veils defection from Christianity. Mysticism baptized with the name of Christianity is not thereby made Christianity. A rose by any other name will smell as sweet. But it does not follow that whatever we choose to call a rose will possess the rose’s fragrance.”  

 As an Introduction to the type of Mysticism permeating AIM read this link about Spiritual Formation.   The author says,

“If you know anyone who is being drawn into the deceptive practices of Christian mysticism, Spiritual Formation, and Contemplative Prayer, please warn them. These things look spiritual and sound spiritual, but they are occultic and will lead into a dangerous spiritual realm. We must be diligent to guard our hearts and minds: after all, it is the Lord’s honor and glory which are at stake. When we become just as pagan as the world, how is God revealed, exalted and glorified? And not only must He be rightly exalted, it is mockery to blend worldly pagan practices into our worship of Him. The Lord will not be mocked, and He will discipline those He loves. Those “ecstatic experiences” reported by mystics of other faith traditions? Having once been a mystic myself, I can attest that the mystical experiences may start out this way, but if continued, will lead to a very dark place.”

 Christine Pack has come out of mysticism to salvation. This Fighting for the Faith interview  with Pack (breaks for a long commercial at one point jump back in @32.50) is very helpful and informative.

Christine Pack writes in Mysticism, Counterfeit Holy Spirit, “Let’s think about why mysticism would be at the core of so many false religions. It must serve some purpose, after all. Well, my take on this, having participated in many different “flavors” of mysticism is that mysticism functions as a counterfeit Holy Spirit experience.

What is Contemplative/Listening Prayer?

 Again from Christine Pack,

“Spiritual formation seks to lure evangelicals into ancient Catholic and Orthodox contemplative practices in order to draw closer to God, experience His presence, and hear His voice apart from Scripture. In order to embrace this mystical form of spirituality, contemplatives are willing to compromise at virtually every turn. Central doctrines such as sola fide and sola Scriptura are shrugged off as secondary. Methods never found in the Bible as the true means of spiritual growth and of knowing God, are emphasized. And complete heretics such as Thomas Merton are seen as reliable spiritual guides to spirituality. The contemplatives have sold out to Catholic mysticism and abandoned the clear teaching of Scripture. Sadly, in the process many undiscerning evangelicals will follow suit.” “So in a way, I feel I have been surrounded by these wicked mystical practices all of my life. I know them from the inside out, and I know how deceptive they are. They can deceive unregenerate people into thinking for years – in many cases, a lifetime – that they have a real, active, ongoing relationship with the God of the universe, when in reality, they do not, and are on their way to hell.

Marcia Montenegro, of Christian Answers for the New Age, writes,

Contemplative Prayer, also called Centering Prayer or Listening Prayer, has been taught by Roman Catholic monks Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, and Basil Pennington, as well as by Quaker Richard Foster, and is being advocated by many others. There is no one authority on this method, nor is there necessarily a consistent teaching on it, though most of the founding teachers quote medieval mystics, Hindu, and Buddhist spiritual teachers.” “The influence of Buddhism and Hinduism on Contemplative Prayer is apparent. Words such as “detachment,” “transformation,” “emptiness,” “enlightenment” and “awakening” (common terms of Seth Barnes) swim in and out of the waters of these books. The use of such terms certainly mandates a closer inspection of what is being taught, despite the fact that contemplative prayer is presented as Christian practice.

On her blog, Pamela Courvrette,  writes,

“Unfortunately, many Christians believe Satan and his minions are only involved with Ouija Boards and spirit mediums;… Yes, of course Satan and his demons have a hand in these things. However, using his subtle deception, it’s inside the church where he does his best work. It’s within the ‘safe’ confines of a church that he deceives through false doctrine and tempts with experiences, personal revelations, and secret knowledge. He doesn’t show up as the visible boogeyman in pew number nine; he shows up as falsehood. Certainly, if he did show up in person, he would sit in the center of the front row, smiling, and clutching a well-worn Bible.

Here is an example of concern raised regarding AIM and this practice, in this letter to the EditorFrom Missionary Couple: Young Missionary Women From AIM (Adventures in Missions) Being Taught Contemplative Prayer”