Jimmy Carter to Willowcreek Summit Special Report
Mar 31, 2007 Right before our very eyes mainstream Christendom is converging with the New Age movement. In 2007, two events are scheduled, and if they occur without a strong public response by Christian leaders, then we will have entered into a full-fledged paradigm shift, and a line will have been crossed that will very likely mean no turning back.
The first event will take place in August. It is the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. It is no news that Willow Creek has been plunging head first into mystical spirituality (known also as spiritual formation or contemplative spirituality) for some time. Ruth Haley Barton’s and John Ortberg’s spiritual formation curriculum for Willow Creek has helped to immerse thousands in contemplative spirituality. Willow Creek has also been a catalyst for the emerging church movement. But by all outward appearances they have at least worn a cloak of evangelical Christianity. That might be changing. While the speaker line up for the Leadership Summit this year includes contemplative proponent John Ortberg (that’s indicting enough), it also includes former president Jimmy Carter. Carter’s message for the event is “Building Humanity.” According to an interview, Carter believes that everyone will be saved, with or without faith in Christ, so “building humanity” has an interspiritual premise for Carter. In other talks, he has stated things like:
There is an intense hunger among Christians around the world for a healing of the differences that now separate us from one another.
I think the main impediment is not knowing each other, not understanding each other, not recognizing that basic truth … that every religion emphasizes truth and justice and benevolence and compassion and generosity and love. 1
In the past, Willow Creek has not hesitated in lining itself up with those who promote mystical spirituality. In their 2005 Leadership Summit, speakers included Rick Warren and Ken Blanchard. Warren promotes contemplative spirituality as well as the emerging church (not to mention his interspiritual efforts 2, 3 ), and Blanchard has been consistently endorsing and promoting eastern meditation for over twenty years. 4 At last year’s Leadership Summit, Willow Creek invited meditation promoter Jim Collins (who incidentally teamed up with Mikhail Gorbachev, Peter Drucker, and Ken Blanchard a few years ago for a global peace conference). Collins wrote the foreword for a 2005 book called My Highest Goal (by Michael Ray). Here is an excerpt from that book:
I attended a meditation-intensive day at an ashram [Hindu spiritual center] to support a friend. As I sat in meditation in what was for me an unfamiliar environment, I suddenly felt and saw a bolt of lightning shoot up from the base of my spine out the top of my head. It forced me to recognize something great within me … this awareness of my own divinity. (p. 28)
And it is this very notion of “the awareness of my own divinity” that should cause any discerning Christian great concern. It is the heart of both New Ageism and contemplative spirituality, and it is the belief that divinity (or a divine spark as some refer to it) is within every human being, and he or she just must realize it.
Speaking of a divine spark, the second line-crossing event will take place in September, and the theme is: “It Only Takes a Spark.” It is Ken Blanchard’s Lead Like Jesus conference. Why is this one so significant? Well, since 2005 when it came out that Blanchard was a New Age sympathizer, 5 leaders who were teaming up with him (like Rick Warren and David Jeremiah) backed right off and halted their public appearances with Blanchard. It may have looked to many that Warren and Jeremiah saw the fallacy of Blanchard’s spirituality and decided to remove themselves from such influence. But neither Warren nor Jeremiah made any public stance against Blanchard’s spiritual affinities. In fact, both of them defended Blanchard (and incidentally publicly scorned Lighthouse Trails at the same time). Now, two years have passed, and this year’s Lead Like Jesus will be including Erwin McManus. What’s the big deal about that, some may ask? Isn’t McManus an emerging church leader? Wouldn’t such a teaming up be expected? Yes, but must we also expect major Christian leaders to promote McManus when his spiritual proclivities are so obvious?
Laurie Beth Jones is also one of the speakers at the 2007 Lead Like Jesus event. Jones, who has participated in the very New Age Business and Consciousness conference promotes New Age ideologies. Listen to a few of her statements:
My personal mission and vision is to Recognize, Promote and Inspire Divine Connection in Myself and Others. ( *)
Jesus regularly visualized the success of his efforts … “I always do what pleases God.” … Was this conceit? Or was it enlightened creativity and self- knowledge? … Jesus was full of self-knowledge and self-love. His “I am” statements were what he became. (p. 7 & 8 of Jesus CEO)
I proudly say I AM. I shape my own destiny. What I believe, I become. What I believe, I can do. (From back of Jesus CEO)
Today, two years after our report that Blanchard was teaming up with Rick Warren yet was heavily promoting the New Age, Blanchard is still endorsing New Age authors and teachers (like his recent foreword for Jon Gordon’s new book), and he is still part of the Hoffman Institute (a think tank for New Age thought). And yet, Erwin McManus sees nothing wrong with speaking at Blanchard’s conference, and Christian leaders (such as the Assemblies of God Southeastern University and CCN) see nothing wrong with promoting McManus. But McManus by his own admission says that his spirituality is based on mysticism. Of his book, The Barbarian Way, he says it has a core of mysticism. And according to McManus’ friend, Jon Gordon, McManus had some positive things to say about The Secret, which is a film based on the channeled works of spirit guides. In truth, it makes sense that McManus is part of Blanchard’s conference. But it makes no sense that Christian leaders are promoting Erwin McManus.
Thus, 2007 is a significant year. With Willow Creek’s Leadership Summit and Blanchard’s Lead Like Jesus, bold steps are being taken to help bring about a convergence that will lead many people down an interspiritual road, which will ultimately deny the gospel message of Jesus Christ.
And in case you are wondering (like we are) how such delusion could take place within Christendom, perhaps the words of New Ager Wayne Dyer are right:
When enough of us align in a certain way, reaching a critical mass, then the rest of us will begin to be affected and align that way also. (Interview from Science of Mind magazine, 01/93)
And perhaps the words of Alice Bailey (who personified the New Age movement) were right also when she said that the Age of enlightenment (when everyone realizes they are one with each other and God) will come, not around the Christian church but rather through it ( see chapter 6, A Time of Departing ).
Whether the predictions of these New Agers are right or not, the words of the following man are absolutely right. With courage and humility (knowing we are saved by grace and walk in His strength), let us take heed to these words below and warn others of the present spiritual danger:
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come.
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie. (The apostle Paul, II Thessalonians 2:1-11)
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