Eugene Cho

pantheism and panentheism

The internet affords people the platform to write, share, blog, critique, connect, support, etc.  I’ve received my fair share of comments including my favorite ones of being a sinister megalamonia  or gracious as all f*#k.  But a recent blog entry really intriqued me. 

Why? 

It referred over 4000+ hits to either this blog and/or the church website since it was published on August  27.  The blog entry I’m referring to is from the “blog of Lighthouse Trails Research.”  Who are they?

In the year 2000, we learned that a mantra-style meditation coupled with a mystical spirituality had been introduced to the evangelical church and was infiltrating youth groups, churches, seminaries, and Bible studies at an alarming rate. Thus, in the spring of 2001, we began Lighthouse Trails Publishing with the hope of exposing this dangerous and pervasive paradigm…

As we learned more about contemplative spirituality (also known as the spiritual formation movement), we came to realize it had infected the church in a wide variety of aspects. Models like Willow Creek, Purpose Driven, and the emerging church had become avenues through which contemplative was entering Christendom.

Because the premise of this spirituality is both pantheistic (God is all things) and panentheistic (God is in all things), thus refuting the gospel message of the Cross, we are compelled to address this issue.  Lighthouse Trails Publishing and our research ministry, Lighthouse Trails Research Project, are here as a service to the body of Christ.

Huh?  What?  Willow, Purpose Driven, and Emerging all in the same sentence with the words pantheistic and panentheistic?

So, on their blog entry about Quest Church and its merger with Interbay Church, they wrote some interesting stuff about Quest, the Evangelical Covenant Church, Glen Palmberg [the ECC president], and even Scot McKnight.  It’s actually quite confusing but that’s alot of referrals.

Sadly, a search on Evangelical Covenant’s main site reveals a propensity toward contemplative spirituality (an earmark of the emerging church). One article called Silent Retreat Ideas lists “wonderful resources” by mystics Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen. Another article titled “Labyrinth Serves as ‘Guided Prayer Walk'” encourages church members to “walk the labyrinth.” 6  And yet another article, “Centering Prayer: Rediscovering God’s Presence” talks about the contribution mystic Thomas Keating has made to the centering prayer movement and encourages readers to “learn more.” And we could list article after article of a similar nature.

Clearly, the Evangelical Covenant denomination is embracing contemplative spirituality and the emerging church, which would explain why The Quest has been able to successfully absorb the 65 year old traditional Interbay Covenant. We just wonder though, did Interbay’s members realize what they were getting into?

Huh? 

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20 Responses

  1. janet says:

    That’s pretty bizarre. I read the entry and I wasn’t quite sure what they were saying they were about.

  2. bob says:

    I’ve been watching these guys or awhile (I was quoted in an article on the emerging church that they were quoted in, that’s how they got on my radar)… Not to put too fine a point on it, but… they’re a bit nuts.
    No joke- Rick Warren is part of a vast global/spiritual conspiracy through the sinister method of “diaprax” to use small groups to ready the church for a one-world government…

    yeah.

    It gets amazingly wild… they’re spiritual kin of Ingrid S/Slice of Laodicea and Ken Silva/CRN…

  3. Tim Sneath says:

    The fact that they don’t accept comments on their blog is revealing. It’s a strangely circuitous argument: ICC have been a Covenant church for decades; Quest have been a formal member for something under three years. But by giving themselves to Quest, ICC have signed up to mysticism because Quest is a Covenant church? I don’t get it.

    Maybe you should send them a copy of the faith statement to which Quest subscribes? http://www.seattlequest.org/faithstatement.html

  4. Dan says:

    Usually, people of this ilk aren’t worthy of attention. I tend to ignore them. However, a couple years ago a lady wrote a letter to the Covenant Companion blasting the Covenant for accepting the message of all those heretics – Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, the Emergents. Obviously, she was reading the stuff that these Lighthouse people are publishing. And I know of one church in California that almost split when a family began propagating this message, and suckered many into accepting their narrow vision of the truth. It did a lot of damage to their staff, and to their programs. So. . .it’s good to be aware of these folks, because you’ll come up against them at one time or another.

  5. Jennifer says:

    Wait just one cotton pickin’ moment…

    The emergent church is encouraging people to PRAY and pay attention to how they are being formed spiritually?

    HERESY!!!!

    I cant beleive I got sucked into something like that. I’m so outta here…

    p.s. Have you see the fake Rick Warren blog? Sooooo funny. http://fakerick.blogspot.com/

  6. Blake says:

    Boy, if Quest and the ECC are in trouble for this then I’d LOVE to hear what they think about the late John Wimber and the Vineyard movement he started years and years ago (I grew up in the Vineyard). lol. THAT, my friends would be worth reading–for a laugh that is. 😉

  7. e cho says:

    A local Covenant church was involved w/ some stuff where couple folks accused the church leadership and the ECC of some heresy and blah blah blah. Don’t know too much but there were some intense letters written back and forth.

    Fun stuff.

  8. Well Eugene, all I can say is join the crowd. Many of us have suffered this kind of attack for years. I am amazed but not surprised and am reminded always of scripture that says “Beware when all people think well of you.” (or something like that). So you must be doing something right to warrant this type of attention. Keep up the good work

  9. e cho says:

    It’s really not that big of a deal to me personally because lots of stuff has already been written – here and there. But, over 4K referrals in less than 2 weeks? That’s pretty stunning…

  10. so you’re saying that possibly 4,000+ people agree with this lighthouse trails’ group’s findings?

    that’s very disturbing…

  11. chad says:

    i have a good friend who is a Covenant camp director in the midwest and he was under all sorts of allegations when they tried “contemplative prayer” during the summer…this website was one that was referenced by the complainers…

    i think people associate “contemplative” with Buddhist monks sitting cross-legged chanting or something…not really sure what the argument is about…maybe FEAR

  12. Kim Aliczi says:

    The end of that article is what really got to me…

    “To understand why contemplative spirituality and the emerging church are mystical in nature and contrary to the Word of God, read A Time of Departing and Faith Undone. If you are an Evangelical Covenant pastor or elder, we will send you a complimentary copy of one of these books at your request.”

    Can you believe it?? LOL I don’t know whether to be offended or laugh myself silly!!

  13. Contemplative prayer is just prayer. Strange that any Christian would find something to object to. Maybe they just didn’t know the word “contemplative” and jumped to conclusions or made something up?

  14. gar says:

    It’s sickly funny that the word “contemplative” is suddenly a dirty word to some folks when applied to the Christian faith and to prayer.

    Heaven forbid people actually think deeply about their lives, their relationship to God and others, and the people around them! CONTEMPLATION IS SOOOOOOOOO EVIL! (/sarcasm)

  15. chad says:

    just today a comment was made on the Covenant website in the “Readers Share their Thoughts” article: http://www.covchurch.org...

    “Steve Ingham of Leawood, KS, writes: We as a Covenant church have departed from the true Word of God. It is tragic to see this New Age gnosticism taking over a formerly Bible-believing denomination. What happened to “Where is it written?” and “How goes your walk?” This “catholic” and eastern mysticism practice does not lead one closer to the Jesus of the Bible. Which Jesus are you conferring with? What spirit?”

    apparently “spiritual direction” is New Age…

  16. BEW says:

    So if you’re not supposed to read Merton or Nouwen, who are you supposed to read?

    Ohhhh.. right.. John MacArthur.

    In my own re-commitment to the faith, it was Labyrinth 1, MacArthur-esque ‘Biblical’ Smackdown 0. And I’m sure I’m not the only one.

  17. Blake says:

    I love how they make it sound like walking a labyrith is some sort of a new thing…as opposed to a tradition that has been around many hundreds of years.

  18. Rebecca says:

    I would like to ask the people in charge of this website what they think Jesus was doing for those 40 days in the wilderness.

    Just a thought. 😉

  19. chad says:

    if you send an email to the editors they will reply…now they keep trying to send me literature!

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Collaboration.

col·lab·o·ra·tion
kəˌlabəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun

the action of working with someone or a group of others  to produce or create something.

May we hold our logos, egos, and tribalism have their place. May we hold them loosely for they too shall pass. May we collaborate for the sake of the greater Kingdom of God ... which endures forever. As we honor Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., don't forget the God behind the man. The one true God who deposited this dream into MLK is still speaking to us today. Are we listening?

Be courageous. Be brave.

Being invited by the King Family to speak at the MLK worship service at Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2016 remains one of the most unexpected honors of my life. On the right is his daughter, Dr. Bernice King and his sister, Dr. Christine King Farris. Walking throughstreet markets in different parts of the world is the best. Soaking in the culture. Listening to the local language and music. Enjoying the amazing cuisine. Meeting new friends. Praying for the Gospel to penetrate. #ChiangRai Blessed be the local, indigenous leaders for it is they who live in the very communities they seek to love. For it is they who understand their context and culture...better than a Westerner ever will. For it is they who will continue to tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love when visitors like me leave.

Yes, blessed be the local, indigenous leaders. What an honor and privilege to celebrate with the on-the-ground local @thefreedomstory team to celebrate the recent opening of their Education and Resource Center for the local youth in Chiang Rai, Thailanf. This was made possible through a partnership and matching grant by @onedayswages and The Freedom Story.

While it was an honor to be there to cut the cord and say a few words, this is an example of collaboration. Much love to the Freedom Story team including their co-founders Tawee Donchai and @Rachel Goble, to their staff who live in the community, who understand their context and culture, and who tenaciously pursue a better world with hope, justice and love. And of course, much love to the students themselves for they each matter. Finally, to each person that donated to @onedayswages to make this grant possible.

May hundreds and even thousands of youth be impacted, encouraged, and mentored. May they capture a glimpse of God's love for them.

Photo: @benjaminedwards Part 2 on my wrestling with the complex issue of human trafficking. In part, documenting my trip to Thailand for @onedayswages...to listen, learn, and visit one of our partner orgs @thefreedomstory. More to come.

There's such painful and poignant irony in pursuing justice...unjustly. One way we do this is when we reduce people into projects...and thus, propagating the dangerous power dynamic of US as heroes and THEM as helpless and exclusively as victims. So dangerous.

Human trafficking is not just an issue. It’s ultimately, about people. Depending on the sources of statistics, there are anywhere from 29-40 million people in some form of forced labor and slavery, including sex trafficking.

And one thing I’ve learned, personally, is how easy it is easy to reduce people into projects which is why mutuality, reciprocity, and dignity are so vital. These are critical because God never intended people to be reduced into projects.

We forget this and we indirectly foster a culture and system of victimization or worse, the pornification of the poor or in this case, "the trafficked." And when you start dehumanizing the poor or trafficked, you have no genuine desire to build relationships with them. You believe or build stereotypes in broad strokes, singular, black and white narratives that have been told about them. You believe the lie that they have nothing to teach us and are incapable of contributing to the larger society.

Lord, break our hearts for the things that break your heart. Give us eyes to see others through your eyes. Give us humility so that we acknowledge our own need to learn and grow. (Photo via @thefreedomstory)

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