listening prayer

The World Race Parents Guide

A careful reading of this guide is necessary to discern exactly what Adventures in Missions values. The World Race parents guide is intended to for parents to understand exactly what the World Race is all about.    After reading it, we have two main concerns.  1.  The pure sweet Gospel of Christ is not at the heart of their “mission”.  2.  Intentional distancing of family and the faith “learned from childhood” (2 Tim 3) is   encouraged.
 Keep this verse in mind as you read on.
 “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all…until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes” Eph 4:4-7, 13-14
 
We are called to one, true faith and as we mature in that faith we should mature in our ability to discern these deceitful schemes of the devil.
As a caveat, we understand that it is good and necessary for young people to leave home, to get married, for a job, etc. It is biblical for a couple to leave and cleave and/or to separate financial responsibilities, etc.(Gen 2:24) However, this is very different than abandoning the family of your youth and discovering a “new” faith.
The parents’ guide offers this insight into what AIM’s schemes are:
 
PROCESS OF INITIATION
We practice radical discipleship, and this involves a process…Our young people
struggle with feelings of being illegitimate adults because there is no rite
of passage. The only option they feel they’re left with is rebellion that
leads to a tearing away from their parents. That tearing away may take
years to mend and heal. The World Race offers a healthy option in the
process of initiation.
It struck us that the initiation process intended to prepare young people for an 11 month missions trip neglects to mention Christ or winning souls to Him.  Missions is NOT about making legitimate adults and this self-centered focus is alarming.
Rebellion being the “only option” for young people denied a “right of passage” into adulthood is absurd. Parents, Seth is saying you fell short in raising your children and adequately preparing them for adulthood.
We expect Racers will go through the first three to four stages on the
World Race, and the final two to three as they return home and on into
their continuing life journey.
1) ABANDONMENT
Everything starts with a call to leave the old security and structure and lean into the challenge of moving into the unknown. They are asked to leave their homes, and the comfort of current close relationships… Their mission is the same as Abraham’s: “get out of your country, from your family, and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1).
Seth insists this “mission” is required.  Is he correct? It hardly seems necessary to note that this was a specific call to Abraham, through whom God would build a nation set apart to be His people.  His call does not apply to all believers.  There is no Scripture that commands this and Seth’s use of this passage as a proof text for his idea is a mishandling of Scripture. 
His entire premise, that this call of Abraham is the reason parents need to let their children go, is using a “descriptive” passage of the Old Testament to be a “prescriptive” command for our lives. 
Abraham was living in a pagan and idolatrous family  (Josh 24:2) when he was chosen by God to be the man through whom He would build the nation of Israel.  Through Abraham’s lineage God’s Son, Jesus Christ would ultimately come.  Clearly, this call was not one that applies to all of us.

 

We are called to leave the old pattern of worldly, sinful living when we come to Christ (2 Cor 5:17). This is the only calling that is true for all who will come to Christ in faith, and it does not mean we are all called to leave our family and the faith that is genuine. Rather, these are to be considered a blessing from the Lord to embrace not abandon. Nowhere in Scripture are children instructed to abandon the family and the faith taught by their parents.

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deut 6:5-7
Each person needs to have a faith that is their own, having come in repentance to a merciful Savior, but they are called to embrace “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3) taught by parents.  They are not to abandon that faith for “new” ideas offered in its place.
As Paul exhorts Timothy,  “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. ” 2 Tim 3:14-17
2) BROKENNESS
This moving from the old leads into a season of insecurity and questioning. They can no longer rely on someone else’s belief systems or experiences. In order to make their faith their own they must be willing to embark on a treacherous journey of faith toward God. It is a transition and, although scary and painful, it is absolutely necessary.
The transition from a childlike faith to a true saving faith does involve forgoing reliance on someone else’s personal faith and submission to Christ. But, parents encourage this by example and sharing the Gospel, teaching their children to acknowledge a personal recognition of sin. This is how each person will be adopted as children of God and justified before Him.  We will all stand before the Judge alone and we individually need to be wearing Christ’s robe of righteousness. The legacy of faith taught in Christian homes should be seen as invaluable to bring young adults to saving faith.
3) DEPENDENCE
Brokenness leads them to find faith molded out of their own experiences and creates a new dependence upon God. It’s a nerve-racking time to swing from one security net to the other. In the end, this new dependence and faith in God will serve them on the World Race and for the rest of their lives. They will find themselves saying yes when God calls them to things previous generations have been afraid to embrace.
Repentance leads them to faith. Where is Christ in any of this? Parents, he is mocking you as being afraid to embrace what he is going to offer your kids.
4) EMPOWERMENT
In this time of true dependency upon God something incredible begins to happen. God starts answering their prayers in ways they have never experienced before. He actually seems to challenge them to believe and ask for more; they begin to believe for and ultimately see the miraculous. Doing greater works talked about in John 14:12 becomes their goal…
The “greater works” does not mean greater in power.  It means greater in extent meaning we are fulfilling the Great Commission to share the Gospel to the world, (Christ’s earthly ministry was limited to Israel) making disciples empowered by a life submitted to Christ and filled by the Spirit.  It does not mean performing signs and wonders which can also be mimicked by Satan.
5) CALLING
While God is meeting them at the point of renewed faith they hear a whisper of God’s plan for their lives. Perhaps in this stage, they will sense God imparting a specific focus or calling. The goal of this time is to create an environment for God to speak about ministry. It’s a time of rediscovery that could lead them into areas that might be unexpected or even unrelated to their education. Much of this rediscovery is done near the end of the World Race and into their first several months home.
Still nothing of Christ or the Bible for that matter.
6) CONFIRMATION
The World Race is not an all-encompassing experience. After the conclusion of their journey, we begin to see clarity to the calling. We begin to see real-world applications. As they begin to lay out the plan they are sensing from God, there will be a confirming sense of God’s presence apparent to those around them. This continues to be a time of discovery, so we as a World Race staff are working on post-Race options that will give better direction to calling and confirmation.
Racers need to be fully released and fully empowered by the Lord. Scary? Yes, but we believe it is the most successful and healthy way to go through the process.
Why does Seth keep using the word scary? Maybe scary is not the right word…maybe it is unsettling and unnecessary.  Hence the feeling that there is something wrong here.
THE PRESENCE OF GOD
One of the foundations of our discipleship model is that every Racer would break dependency on everything but the presence of God in their lives. The journey away from the familiar is imperative to this goal: they must journey away from the guidance of family, the security of friends, and the predictability of their everyday lives. They must learn to rely on their own pursuit of the things of God.Even if they’ve been taught good worldviews and theologies, they need to move beyond the spoon-feeding into new and deeper ways of thinking.
Even if they have been taught good theology?  Your faithful teaching of God’s Word to your child is termed spoon-feeding?  Seth is going to give your kids HIS newer, deeper way of thinking and it will not be the faith taught by our Lord Jesus and His apostles.
THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT
Throughout the World Race, each participant will be expected to learn the discipline of listening prayer.If God truly speaks and gives us the ability to discern his voice, then a life of listening to the Spirit of God on all occasions and for every purpose is the best life possible. Everything we do is rooted in the lifestyle practice of listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit. It is a new concept to most of the Racers, but has life-changing results.
This is a perfect example of Seth conforming these kids to HIS theology.  For a man that does not exalt Christ anywhere in his writings, is he really the one you want teaching your kids how to hear the voice of God?  This is a mystical practice associated with Eastern religions and mystics.  It is not biblical.  Seth wrote the book they are expected to read.
Here is more information, “Centering prayer (listening prayer) is an unbiblical and dangerous practice.  It can put a person in an altered state of consciousness and open him up to a spiritual connection that is not in harmony with Scripture. Instead, we are to seek God in prayers that are non-repetitious, with a focus on God’s word and truth, with an active mind seeking to find the true and living God through the revelation of the Scripture and communion with his son Jesus. In short, avoid centering prayer and avoid whatever church promotes it.” 
WHAT MAKES US DIFFERENT
We emphasize listening prayer. We believe God wants to communicate with us daily in a personal way. We ask, listen, and obey: asking God for guidance, listening for His response, and obeying Him to the best of our ability.
COMMUNICATION LET YOUR RACER GO
You’ve given your sons and daughters the best years of your life; you’ve been there and provided for them. Because of this, you may feel entitled to some things from them in return. Truthfully, one of the most helpful things you can do now is to give them the space they need to find their own identity and faith.
Their own faith?  There is only one.
“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed…” Jude 3
If you have brought your children up to fear the Lord Jesus Christ and submit to His gracious care as our Redeemer, this is NOT the faith that they will be taught from this organization.  They are asking you to release them to their teaching and to abandon the faith of their youth.  This is not biblical.  Please read the testimonies we’ve shared in other blog posts and also the other areas we have pointed out concern about the thoughts towards parents.
“The focus of the World Race must remain on making it the best discipleship experience we can for the Racers — including helping them step into their own identity as adults.”
Missions is not about making adults, it is about sharing the Good News about Jesus Christ. 
“And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom.
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

1 Cor 2:2

 

Adventures in Missions and the Emergent Church

We have found that AIM has characteristics of the New Apostolic Reformation Movement and also the Emergent Church, neither of which are Biblical. As a reminder, it is the subtly of the error that the Enemy is so crafty at.  There is some truth written on Seth’s blogs, but the error found there is an attack on the Lord Jesus, His Church, and His Word.  Therefore we must be discerning. Seth tends to contradict himself often.

Ephesians 4:14 “so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.”

“The Emergent Church movement is a progressive Christian movement that attempts to elevate experience and feelings on a par with Christian doctrine.  Many do not believe man can know absolute truth, and believe God must be experienced outside of traditional biblical doctrines. Emergent church leaders usually adopt the principles of social justice, liberation theology, and collective salvation. Some leaders also incorporate elements of Universalism, the Seeker-Friendly Movement, and even New Age Spirituality.”

“Regarding doctrine, these folks generally reject systematic Christian theology, the integrity of Scripture, and gospel exclusivity. They don’t believe Christianity is the one true religion and many associated with the emergent church promote homosexuality. Some deny the deity of Jesus Christ; they call for diversity, “unity,” and camaraderie among all religions, and they modify and expand their teachings. It is quite clearly and simply a war against the Truth… What those involved mostly agree on is their disdain for fundamental Christianity and disillusionment with the organized, traditional, and institutional church.”source

This site, provides a few characteristics to use in comparing AIM to this movement. They are frightening in their similarity to Adventures in Missions and Seth Barnes. While AIM may not agree with every characteristic, they are similar to enough to warrant concern.

1) Does not like to spend money on church buildings. Prefer meeting as “house churches

Seth“The institution of the church is just like every other institution – it is slow to respond to the realities of a world that is racing by it…The original disciples resisted structure, only giving in to a division of labor with deacons doing some work after a lot of time had passed. The Bible does not tell us much about how to structure ourselves..Unity and love cannot be organized; they happen as a function of covenantal relationships..”…(Comments section) “And in my personal life, I’m passionately committed to regular worship with a home church

Seth has spoken negatively about the church in many blog posts.  While there is much to lament about the compromising church today, Christ did in fact set up a structure, the disciples did not resist it.  They taught, as instruments of the Holy Spirit, exactly how Christ wants His church structured.  They ensured the teaching of sound doctrine and refutation of error.  See Acts, Timothy, Titus, etc, . Predictably, false teachers want to minimize the church that has the responsibility to refute their error. We have not seen Seth show any desire to be taught sound doctrine, instead there seems to be only a desire for unity and love (though believers can only have genuine unity if it is centered around TRUTH).   Neither have we seen him lament that the lack of strong exegetical teaching in the church today.

 “…put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you…He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Titus 1:5, 9

2) A reading list that “consists primarily of (and leaders to follow) …(to name a few) 

Henri NouwenDallas Willard, Brennan Manning, Frederick Buechner , Donald Miller, Richard RohrSeth references these men often, a search of his blog will reveal more references than these, see also our previous posts.

3) Support women in all levels of ministry including women pastors.

Seth“when it came time for our team to do spiritual warfare, it was the women who were best equipped to do it” Seth“God is calling out a whole generation of radicals, but it’s the women are responding first and most boldly.” Seth“Women the world over are better servant leaders than many men”and he also sees no problem with women today being labeled apostles.

4) Following Jesus is living the right way, not believing in the right things

Seth-“He (Jesus)  often seems to be more concerned with our healing than he is with our theology.” Seth“Following him is hard enough without requiring disciples to study theology.” and ironicly he also says contradicting himself, “At AIM, we have a high view of Scripture”.

5) Eschatology: Building the kingdom of God on earth.

The AwakeningIt all started with a dream. A dream that a generation would stand up and walk like Jesus walked. Healing the sick, raising the dead, and bringing the Kingdom to the darkest places on earth…expect Kingdom come.”

6) Familiar words-story, mosaic, matrix

Seth“Jesus clued us in to life behind the matrix.” Seth“To climb out of the Matrix, they need to walk in brokenness for a while. And then they need to walk in freedom” SethHow will they ever get out of the Matrix-like life they’re living?” Seth“To live the life God designed us for, we need to live better stories and we need to relearn the art of telling them.”Seth“God loves stories…Storytelling connects in the spirit like laughter or tears or smells. It connects viscerally so that the story stays lodged in our spirit and may even change us. God infuses stories with the kind of deep magic that Tolkien and Lewis understood.” WHAT??

7) Practice Lectio divina a.k.a. spiritual formation…the silence…centering, breath…but is best known as contemplative (listening) prayer. –

Seth has written an entire book on this, “The Art of Listening Prayer” and these are Seth’s posts on Listening Prayer,

“A practice of Catholic monks and gnostics, gaining acceptance as an integral part of the Emerging Church…The dangers inherent in this kind of practice, and its astonishing similarity to transcendental meditation and other dangerous rituals, should be carefully considered. It has the potential to become a pursuit of mystical experience where the goal is to free the mind and empower oneself. The Christian should use the Scriptures to pursue the knowledge of God, wisdom, and holiness through the objective meaning of the text with the aim of transforming the mind according to truth. God said His people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6), not for lack of mystical, personal encounters with Him…Finally, the attack on the sufficiency of Scripture is a clear distinctive of lectio divina.”

 

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”

 

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