Dear praying friends,
As each year passes it seems that as a ministry we are regularly confronted by the next BIG ‘Evangelical Initiative’ that we are told is assuredly going to change the spiritual landscape and sweep hundreds or even thousands into the Kingdom of God. In recent years I can think back on local initiatives like ‘Power to change’ and ‘Kingdom Come’ and then nationally and globally there has been and still is all the hype about ‘The Passion Movie’ and ‘The Alpha Course’. Rev William Smylie, General director of Slavic Gospel Association in his editorial for their April-June 2007 newsletter wrote about ‘The Importance of Little Things’ and said ‘In general people are switched on by BIG things…In the area of mega churches there are those who will travel half-way around the world to see if they could copy the same method…BIG projects whether they are humanitarian or of a spiritual nature grip many and move them to get on board…The Christian is called to be faithful in the little things…The Christian life is about how we perform ALL the time…Our Lord Jesus Christ is our great example of faithfulness in the simple duties of life…In this issue we are covering…many areas where God’s servants are being faithful in the little things’. In this issue I will once more be sharing concerns about an upcoming BIG initiative called HOPE 2008 and sadly once more BIG does not equal FAITHFUL. As 2008 unfolds may we be ever ready to give a faithful answer for the hope that is in us [1 Peter 3:15].
Your servant for Christ
‘Hope 2008’ – not “that blessed hope” of Titus 2:13
In January of this year I received an email from a Christian couple in England who had attended a meeting In Birmingham in October 2006 at which they were introduced to an initiative that would be called ‘HOPE 2008’.
In recent days I have received another email from a Christian parent who expressed gratitude for our ministry and wrote of “Hope 08 which is nationwide and the opening speaker is Steve Chalke”. As for being ‘nationwide’ in my reply to her inquiry I wrote – “I am aware of Hope ’08…On a page that I printed off some months ago [from their website] they had a ‘Missions in cities’ section relating to activities next July-September  and the cities listed included Glasgow, London, Birmingham, Manchester, Cardiff and Belfast”. The Belfast launch was listed as being at the Spires Conference Centre on Saturday 27th October from 3.00pm until 10.00pm.
On their website “HOPE 2008” major very much on ‘community action’ rather than ‘gospel proclamation’. When you read shortly of the ecumenical/interfaith scope of “HOPE 2008” it is easy to understand why ‘community action’ trumps ‘gospel proclamation’.
In my research so far I have not been able to identify any official Gerald Coates involvement [as was hinted at in the first email I received] but as you will read shortly Steve Chalke is very much to the fore in the launch of this initiative.
On the grounds of involvement by Steve Chalke, this “HOPE 2008” initiative has forfeited ALL right to be viewed as ‘Christian’ for the simple reason that currently Steve Chalke publicly denies the very heart of the Christian Gospel namely the substitutionary atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary on behalf of sinners.
I want to share extracts of items from their own website of http://www.hope08.com/Group/Group.aspx?id=32586 plus items from related websites that will show that this is an initiative that no faithful Christian should lend any support or involvement to
The background to ‘Hope’
‘Hope’ is intended to provide churches of all shapes and sizes throughout the UK with a fresh opportunity to work together across their communities over a twelve-month period. It is as relevant for urban or rural churches irrespective of tradition. Many of us heard stories from The Message 2000 (Manchester) or Soul in the City (London) in 2004 and were left with a strong desire for our town or city to be next in line. In a number of other locations churches worked together as part of what seemed to be a new wave of missions that emerged at the beginning of this century. This activity was built on years of faithful prayer and a commitment to work together and in many cases with a key role played by young people. After Soul in the City three agencies began a conversation, which grew to involve a wide range of denominations, networks and national charities. This conversation concluded that if we all work together, across the whole nation that focused mission is possible, even in situations that have seemed hopeless in the past. The ideas that are still emerging indicate that churches of all types and traditions can partner with other churches, with various Christian agencies and with local authorities and the police to make a real impact on their communities’. [Cecil’s comments – This section included a photo of young people involved in a street clean-up and placing lots of rubbish in a large skip so as a result of this ‘mission’ there may well be merely a possible ‘temporal’ impact and not an ‘eternal’ impact].
Ecumenical and State support for “HOPE 2008”
This is clearly seen in the make-up of the Board of Reference for the initiative. Herewith are the details – [Some roles may have changed since HOPE 2008 posted this as in the case for instance of Caroline Spelman who is now ‘Chairman’ of the Tory Party].
HOPE 2008 Board of Reference
We are very excited that the following people have agreed to support Hope by joining our Board of Reference. Their advice and views will assist as we plan for 2008.
- Matt Baggott, Chief Constable of Leicestershire & Association of Chief Police Officers
- Lord John Stevens, former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service
- Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP, Chief Secretary to HM Treasury
- Caroline Spelman MP, Shadow Communities & Local Government
- Steve Webb MP, Health Spokesman
- Most Rev Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
- His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, Archbishop of Westminster
- Rev David Coffey, President of the Baptist World Alliance
- Commissioner Elizabeth Matear, Moderator elect of Free Churches Group
- Rev Joel Edwards, General Director of Evangelical Alliance
- Rev Nicky Gumbel, Alpha
- Fran Beckett OBE, CEO of Church Urban Fund
As you will have seen from the names listed for the HOPE 2008 BOARD of REFERENCE this initiative has ecumenical support at the highest level. Herewith some more details of that ecumenical support –
Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor – [Roman Catholic] Archbishop of Westminster
“I wholeheartedly recommend this grassroots initiative as a way of empowering local Churches to be bold in living and proclaiming the Gospel [Cecil’s comments: This of course is Rome’s ‘Gospel’ of man’s good works on earth and not Christ’s finished work on the cross] in our society. I am particularly delighted that from its beginning HOPE 2008 has been an ecumenical initiative which can thus witness to the power of the Gospel to unite people [Cecil’s comments: See the Lord’s comments that are found in Luke 12:51-53] in a world of many divisions.”
Rowan Williams , Archbishop of Canterbury
“Hope 2008 is a really remarkable vision that has grown out of the success of a number of local urban projects. Christians have to learn how to give an absolutely clear answer to the question, ‘why is this good news?’; [Cecil’s comments: Christians should not be proclaiming this ‘why’ but rather should be proclaiming ‘what’ constitutes the good news] ‘Soul in the City’ and all the related enterprises that have been going on are a wonderful example of how to give such an answer, in terms of the building of responsible positive communities. Now, with Hope 2008, this vision is being extended, with great boldness to the whole country – and even more widely. It deserves the warmest welcome. I thank God for the inspiration [Cecil’s comments – “inspiration” from where or from who?] that has driven it and wish every blessing to all involved.”
At ‘ground level’ the ecumenical nature of the initiative could be seen from HOPE 2008 event listings on church websites such as those for the Roman Catholic St Thomas More Church and Walsgrave Baptist Church, both of which advertised the September 8th Coventry launch of HOPE 2008 at Coventry Cathedral that featured Steve Chalke.
It should of course be noted that another name on the BOARD of REFERENCE for HOPE 2008 is the main ALPHA course promoter Nicky Gumbel whose ecumenical credentials are everywhere evident for all to see and the same can be said of another BOARD of REFERENCE member, Joel Edwards of the ’politically correct’ Evangelical Alliance that recently supported David Cameron’s views on ‘the family’ including his definition that went beyond the Biblical parameters of marriage being only sanctioned by God as being between one man and woman.
Another BOARD of REFERENCE member listed is David Coffey who is President of the Baptist World Alliance – like many other formerly sound evangelical groupings the BWA has been engaged in talks with ROME – Judging by the past experience of such ‘dialogue’ [such as ARCIC, ECT and LWF] there will be only one ‘winner’ theologically speaking and that will be Rome!
Security support for “HOPE 2008”
You may have noticed that one of those listed on the Board of Reference was the former Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Lord John Stevens. Another who has given his support is the current Commissioner as can be seen on the HOPE 2008 website –
Sir Ian Blair, Metropolitan Police Commissioner
“HOPE 2008 will be an excellent opportunity for people of all denominations of the Christian faith to unite in regenerating and transforming their local communities, making them better places to both live and work. HOPE’S interaction with Safer Neighbourhood teams will offer the police, community and faith groups the chance to work together to make their area safer. As with SOUL IN THE CITY LONDON, HOPE 2008 has my full support”.
Personally speaking, in the light of many controversial public statements made by Sir Ian Blair in recent years, not least those in respect of the gunning down of the totally innocent Jean Charles de Menezes I would not want to have his ‘imprimatur’ on anything that I was proposing to stage, particularly involving the Lord Jesus Christ.
Strategy for “HOPE 2008”
Probably the greatest New Testament evangelist was the Apostle Paul and shortly before he was martyred for the cause of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ he wrote these words to the young pastor, Timothy – “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine…endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” [2nd Timothy 4:2-5]. Is that evangelistic zeal reflected in the HOPE 2008 strategy ‘guidelines’? Here’s what the website says –
Hope and other Faiths
Whatever you’re planning for Hope 2008, you may end up working with, or amongst people of different faiths. Hope 2008 can be a great opportunity to serve them and share your faith in a way that leads to meaningful friendships. There is advice and suggestions of resources via the Youth Encounter section of the Scripture Union website and also an excellent resource produced by Churches Together in England. Meantime, here’s some simple dos and don’ts to help you.
- Respect the faith and culture of the children and young people.
- Use music, artwork and methods that are culturally appropriate
- Be open and honest in the presentation of the Christian faith.
- Be open and honest about the content with parents and other adults involved in their lives
- Seek to build long-term friendships that are genuine and not dependant upon conversion.
- Assume they’ll understand what you mean when you say you are a Christian
- Criticise, ridicule or belittle other religions or cultures.
- Tell the children what their faith says or define it by what some of its adherents do
- ·Ask children or young people to say, sing or pray things that they do not believe or that compromises their own faith.
- Encourage them to make decisions that would put them in conflict with their family.
(Taken From ‘Welcoming Children of Other Faiths’ by Gill Marchant and Andrew Smith and published by Scripture Union)
How would I respond to such guidelines and indeed to the whole thinking behind HOPE 2008? I believe that something that Loraine Boettner wrote in his classic work ‘Roman Catholicism’ contains much wise counsel that can be considered and applied by Christians in assessing HOPE 2008. Mr Boettner wrote, under a sub-heading of ‘The Church in Politics’ –
‘She must not allow herself to be used as a pressure group for the securing of certain rights and temporal benefits for men, nor to pressure the state for reform measures even though such reforms may be needed and desirable from the Christian viewpoint. Christians as individuals are indeed to work for whatever reforms may be needed but the Church is not to do so in her corporate capacity. Such action on the part of the Church almost invariably will detract from her primary mission of the proclamation of The Gospel and ministering to the spiritual needs of men and will tend to a wrong conception as to what her mission really is’.
It is clear that for decades now governments and global political organisations have sought to enlist the help and co-operation of leading religious figures and religious initiatives [Billy Graham and Rick Warren immediately spring to mind] to further their ‘one-world’ agenda. HOPE 2008 is just the latest in a long and growing list of such politically–sanctioned ‘missions’. The one thing that none of these ‘missions’ do is actually point to and proclaim THE GREAT and BLESSED CHRISTIAN HOPE. As a young Christian I well remember a very zealous and faithful preacher of the Gospel speak of how he always sough to proclaim ‘The Book’ [The Bible] ‘The Blood’ [Christ’s atoning sacrifice at Calvary] and ‘The Blessed Hope’ [the return of the Lord Jesus Christ].
The narrow and predominantly secular focus of HOPE 2008 is an attempt to ‘paper-over’ the cracks in society in this current fallen, sinful world that is destined for fiery destruction before Christ returns to create a new heaven and a new earth [2 Peter 3:10 and Revelation 21:1]. The “blessed hope” as it is identified in Titus 2:13 speaks of Christ’s return to usher in an eternal ‘paradise’ for His redeemed people. The ‘mission’ of His church meantime is to confront all people with their sin and its only remedy – Jesus Christ and Him crucified. I don’t hold out much ‘hope’ that HOPE 2008 will assist in the ingathering of a people with whom God “will dwell with them and they shall be his people and God himself will be with them and be their God” [Revelation 21:3].
If discerning Christians need written evidence as to why they should steer well clear of Alpha Courses then this selection of ‘endorsements’ that are posted on Alpha’s own website should provide all the evidence they require. Be assured that no faithful Biblical Christian course, whether for the ‘evangelism of the lost’ or the ‘equipping of the saints’ would ever attract the plaudits of those listed below [with their comments].
- Rowan Williams
- Archbishop of Canterbury
‘What Alpha has to offer is a unique mixture of Christian content and Christian style. I recommend it to all the Christian family as a very special tool of evangelism’
- Richard Chartres
- Bishop of London
‘Real education…Christian companionship…a living experience of the mystery of God. I am so grateful for Alpha courses’
- Alister McGrath
- President Oxford Centre
‘The Alpha Course has now become one of the most reliable and important means of drawing people into the church. It has enormous potential’
- Nigel McCulloch
- Bishop of Wakefield
‘Alpha has proved itself to be an effective way of exploring faith and deepening commitment to Jesus as Lord. I commend it warmly’
- David Coffey
- Baptist World Alliance
‘The Alpha course has been of enormous value to churches in strengthening fellowship and increasing effective evangelism in the local community’
- Desmond Tutu
- Ex Archbishop of Cape Town
‘Alpha opens the door… for the sharing, caring, praying community which is exemplary of the church in action’
- RICK WARREN
- Saddleback Church Pastor
‘It’s great to see how Alpha has been used to reach people with the good news of Jesus Christ, who wouldn’t normally come to church. Alpha is one of the most effective evangelism tools for the 21st century … and is very complementary to helping seekers connect with The Purpose Driven Life’
- BILL HYBELS
- Willow Creek Senior Pastor
‘Alpha is one of the best known evangelistic programs in the world. I don’t think anybody rejoices more in its effectiveness than I do’
- CHARLES COLSON
- Prison Fellowship
‘I know of many people whose lives have been transformed through the Alpha Course. I rejoice at how God is using it so powerfully to renew many churches both inside and outside prison walls’
- David [Paul] Yonggi Cho
- South Korea
‘The Alpha course is an excellent program for all churches everywhere’
- J John
‘Alpha – not just the first letter of the Greek alphabet, but first choice for an illuminating perspective on Christianity. An ideal follow up course for missions’
- STEVE CHALKE
- Oasis Trust
‘Alpha is the most effective and transferable introductory course to the Christian faith that I know’
- Joel Edwards
- Evangelical Alliance
‘The great command to make disciples of all people is still relevant today. Alpha provides us with a contemporary response to “cringe-free’ evangelism which deserves the increasing profile it is currently receiving’
- Cardinal Walter Kasper
- Pontifical Council for Unity
‘Alpha courses… are opportunities to strengthen ecumenical togetherness among Christians, and a joint proclamation of faith in Christ in today’s world’
- Archbishop Buti Tilhagale
- Johannesburg SA
‘The Alpha course has shown across the world… that it can be a most effective tool for evangelisation. It is with much enthusiasm that we in the Catholic Church embrace and support the Alpha initiative and we encourage all Christians to work together in spreading the good news through this medium to the glory of God our Father’
- Cardinal Philippe Barbarin
- Lyon France
‘What Alpha gives and communicates renews the life of the church and opens up the path of faith to people who before were not open to it’
- Cardinal Sean O’Malley
- Boston USA
‘Many of our Catholic parishioners have benefited from the Alpha program… I am grateful for the efforts of those who seek to assist with this important work’
- Archbishop/Cardinal Sean Brady
‘Alpha has developed a reputation as an inspirational programme of Christian education and formation, producing excellent results and having a long-lasting and positive effect for those who participate and beyond. I pray that this force for good in our world, so necessary to counteract all that is contrary to the Gospel, may continue to grow and develop’
- Archbishop John Dew
- Wellington NZ
‘A new source of grace has appeared in our midst – Alpha strives to make the great message of Christianity accessible to all levels in our contemporary society’
- Archbishop Jimeno
- Huancayo Peru
‘I consider that the Alpha course is one of the key and accessible tools [for evangelisation] of our times. It meets the need of all humanity to find the meaning and purpose of life in the person of Jesus Christ … and leads to being part of a community of believers who together discover, live, grow and share the good news of the Gospel’
- Cardinal Thomas Williams
- Wellington NZ
‘News of Alpha has been spreading fast and many churches are becoming eager to learn more of its content and method, and what it might do in energising the life and mission of our parishes. I already know Alpha to be a remarkably effective course’
- Bishop John Boissonneau
- Toronto Canada
‘Alpha is an effective and proven means to invite men and women to know and understand in a personal way who Jesus is’
- Cardinal Keith O’Brien
‘An Alpha course is one of the great ways at the present time in which people can gather together to learn from one another, to share with one another, and to deepen in their knowledge and love of Jesus Christ himself’
- Archbishop B J Hickey
- Sydney Australia
‘Reports I hear about Catholic Alpha are always enthusiastically positive. Catholics find that their faith really comes alive and that they want to share it with others, especially with those who have drifted away from the faith. I am happy to encourage Catholic Alpha as a modem and effective form of evangelization’
- Bishop Thomas McMahon
- Brentwood UK
‘From all I have seen of Alpha, it is the most marvellous tool for evangelisation… and Alpha serves to bring faith alive and to me that is the most important thing in the world’
- ‘Father’ Raniero Cantalamessa
- Pontifical Preacher to The Pope
‘In my opinion Alpha accomplishes an incredible task, in making people interested in faith and in making faith relevant to the modern man. I especially appreciate the ecumenical spirit of the Alpha course: There is no pressure on anybody to join a different denomination, but just to join Jesus and to put Jesus at the centre’
Alpha clearly continues to be at the ‘cutting edge’ in the promotion of the false ecumenical movement and as you have read has received and continues to receive support from Rome at the highest of levels.
Locally-based COM launched: CREATION OUTREACH MINISTRIES
At a meeting on 5th November 2007 in the Welcome Evangelical Church, Belfast a new Christian organisation, Creation Outreach Ministries (COM) was officially launched. COM is a non-denominational Christian ministry that will be located in Northern Ireland and it will seek to encourage confidence in the absolute authority of God’s word especially in relation to the Biblical account of creation. It will endeavour to equip Christians on the question of ‘origins’, to reach the wider non-Christian community with the Gospel of salvation that is only found in Christ alone, to glorify the only true God, the Creator and to contend against the theory of evolution. The verse of scripture that summarises and underpins the work of COM is found in Hebrews 11:3 “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear”. Information and contact details can be found on the group’s website www.com.org
- New book on the threat of ‘The Emerging Church’
- “FAITH UNDONE” by Roger Oakland
Roger Oakland who has been my invited guest here in Northern Ireland on 2 occasions and who heads up an excellent ‘watchman’ ministry called Understand The Times has written a comprehensive book detailing much of the history and threat posed by what has been called ‘The Emerging Church’. The opening chapter is called ‘A New Kind of Church’ and the remaining chapters are titled –
- 2. Birth of The Emerging Church
- 3. A New ‘Faith’ for the 21st Century
- 4. Riding The Emerging Church Wave
- 5. Ancient-Future Worship
- 6. When West Meets East
- 7. Monks, Mystics etc
- 8. The Eucharistic Christ
- 9. The Kingdom on Earth
- 10. The Undoing of Faith
- 11. Slaughterhouse Religion
- 12. New Reformation?
- 13. End-Time Deception
You can purchase a copy of this book from us by sending your order and cheque to ‘Take Heed’ Publications, 29 Edengrove Park, Ballynahinch, BT24 8AZ, Northern Ireland
Ministry trips to USA [past and planned]
On page 1 of the September newsletter I mentioned a ministry trip that Margaret and I would be undertaking during October. I am very pleased to report that we had a wonderful trip. All along the way we were showered with Christian kindness and hospitality. In the 4 churches that I spoke in they were enthusiastic to hear of the work at ‘Take Heed’ and the message that I gave in each location on the subject of Islam certainly seemed to ‘strike a chord’ with all who heard it. In Springfield IL we were the house-guests of Gary and Marsha Gilley who had stayed with us during Gary’s ministry trip to Northern Ireland in March 2006 when at my request he spoke on the ‘seeker-sensitive’ and ‘emerging-church’ movements. Also at Gary’s church we renewed fellowship with and sat under the ministry of Phil Johnson, one of John MacArthur’s elders as he spoke on very relevant issues like the ‘Fad-Driven Church’, the ‘New Perspective on Paul’ and ‘The Great Exchange’ of 2 Corinthians 5:21. Our sincere thanks to all who helped in a practical way towards the cost of this trip – we are very grateful to you.
God willing in early March I will be going [sadly on my own this time] to California from 1st-10th March. Whilst there I hope to take in some meetings at the Shepherd’s Conference being held at John MacArthur’s church plus I hope to revisit and speak in some churches that I have previously ministered in. Other speaking opportunities in new locations are also being looked at so once more your prayers for provision and protection are sincerely coveted. It is clear that the USA is facing similar challenges to those being experienced in the UK with the increasing Islamic presence in their midsts. Like the people of the UK the people of the USA are not being given an honest and clear picture of Islam by those in authority [both political and religious] so in some small way I hope to redress these inaccuracies.
In closing let me quote one local example of political-correctness gone mad where Islam is concerned – this is an excerpt from the website of the local Northern Ireland police force – the PSNI – ‘Superintendent Nigel Kyle, Community Safety Officer for H District, said that police would seek to work with others to promote integration….I am happy to announce that we will be holding a number of seminars in conjunction with members of the local Muslim community… I also recognize the importance of Ramadan, and I am looking forward to joining with members of the Muslim community for a day of prayer on Friday September 28 ’.
Willow Creek connection to the foul-mouthed ‘Jersey Boys’
In a recent email [1st November 2007] from the ministry of Lighthouse Trails they identified some results from a survey carried out by the leaders of the Willow Creek Community Church [Senior Pastor – Bill Hybels]. Herewith are some extracts from that email –
“The headlines on a Townhall.com article this week certainly catch the attention…The article talks about a survey Willow Creek performed and the findings of the survey. Townhall columnist Bob Burney explains:
Willow Creek has released the results of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their programs and philosophy of ministry. The study’s findings are in a new book titled Reveal: Where Are You? co-authored by Cally Parkinson and Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. Hybels himself called the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking” and “mind blowing.” And no wonder: it seems that the “experts” were wrong. The report reveals that most of what they have been doing for these many years and what they have taught millions of others to do is not producing solid disciples of Jesus Christ. Numbers yes, but not disciples. It gets worse. Hybels laments: “Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into, thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much…”
Burney quotes Hybels who talks about what he feels Willow Creek should have been doing:
“We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own”.
Shortly I will cite an example of how Willow Creek have obviously failed in this area of ‘discipleship’ in the life of one particular Willow Creek adherent but I want to say at this point that whilst Bill Hybels is correct in part that professing Christians have a responsibility to become what he calls ‘self-feeders’ there is also a God-given commission given to church elders to “Take Heed therefore unto yourselves and to all the flock over which the Holy Spirit hath made you overseers to feed the Church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock…men…speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch and remember” [Acts 20:28-30] – this feeding/fencing role of elders is also clearly identified in Ephesians 4:11-14 “And he gave some…pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man…that we henceforth be no more children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, by which they lie in wait to deceive”.
It is vital to note the clearly identified relationship between the necessity of sound teaching by the elders, pastor and teachers and how that sound teaching will then act as a guard against false doctrine and false teachers. Again I will show clearly that Willow Creek are failing their flock in this area of protection against false teachers and false doctrines. Returning to the failed ‘discipleship’ of one Willow Creek adherent I want to refer to a musical that has been performed in the La Salle Bank Theatre in Chicago. It is called ‘Jersey Boys – The story of Franki Valli & The Four Seasons’. This particular group had many hit records during my own teenage years in the 1960’s – songs like ‘Rag Doll’ and ‘Sherry’ to name but two. In the programme guide for the show, under a heading of ‘Who’s Who’ there is this entry –
KRAIG McCREARY (Thug: Guitar) thanks God for life; and Mom, wife Christy, Austin and Jack for love and encouragement. Kraig has played on thousands of commercials; written, recorded, produced and arranged hundreds of recordings, and has been MD for WILLOW CREEK CHURCH.
So here we have someone involved in the musical ‘Jersey Boys’, in both musical accompaniment and acting roles, (Thug: Guitar) who has publicly identified his clear link to the Willow Creek Church. How does this relate to what I have referred to as failed ‘discipleship’? Well, I can assure all readers, on the very best of authority, that no sensitive disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ could endure more than 10-15 minutes of this ‘musical’. From early on it is laced and littered with obscene, foul-mouthed and indeed blasphemous language. No maturing disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ could possibly be a party to such an offensive production yet sadly Kraig McCreary clearly has no difficulty in participating in such an unholy show. This is a real example of what was identified in the report of the failure of Willow Creek to produce ‘solid disciples of Jesus Christ’. Having identified their failure in this respect are Willow Creek taking the right steps to redress this failing – not by the evidence of an upcoming [April 2008] conference that they are advertising for SHIFT 2008. Herewith are some extracts from their website –
Shift – April 9-11, 2008: Willow Creek Campus
As the world of student ministry continues to shift and change, so do the needs of those who serve students. Recognising this, our team has designed an event that is unlike any other Student Ministries Conference we’ve ever hosted. SHIFT 2008 is about innovation: Rather than highlighting one specific model of ministry, we’ve invited some of the most innovative thinkers and leaders we could find and asked them to shape our experiences and discussions.
Wed. April 9
Main session: 9.00 -10.30am Brian McLaren
Fri: April 11
Main session 11.15am-12.45pm Dan Kimball
Willow Creek’s answer to their problem of failed ‘discipleship ‘ of young believers is to expose them at SHIFT 2008 to two of the leading proponents of what has been called ‘The Emerging Church’. Far from shielding them from ‘grievous wolves’ and ‘every wind of [false] doctrine’ Willow Creek is willingly opening their doors to such men and their ‘cunning craftiness’. On other articles on our website I have highlighted the gospel-destroying views of Brian McLaren who rejects as ‘divine child abuse’ the glorious truth at the heart of the Christian gospel – the truth of ‘penal substitution’ by Christ on the Cross of Calvary. As for Dan Kimball, Roger Oakland in his book exposing ‘the emerging church’ called ‘Faith Undone’ writes on pages 45-46 ‘If you listen to the emergent conversations long enough, you will hear a recurring theme: Christians are wrong to confront unbelievers head on with the Word of God…They often use Jesus as an example, saying, He did not confront people but always accepted them for who they were…Kimball refers to the story where Jesus is sitting near a well by Himself…and he talks to a Samaritan woman. Kimball alters the story by saying “He [Jesus] stopped and asked questions of the Samaritan woman and didn’t just jump in and say ‘Samaritans are all wrong’”. But Kimball is wrong, Jesus did the exact opposite! He didn’t ask her ANY questions and he confronted her straight on…The fact is Jesus did confront people with the truth’. When it comes to making ‘sound disciples of Jesus Christ’ I’m afraid for Willow Creek it’s a case of out of the ‘seeker-sensitive frying pan’ and into ‘the emerging church fire’.