News From The Front – June 2004

Dear praying friends,

As there is so much that I want to include in this newsletter I’m launching straight into our opening article and my prayer is that all who read this entire newsletter will be much informed and warned.

Your servant for Christ

CECIL ANDREWS

  • Alpha’s Road Leads To Rome

There is a well-known saying that ‘All Roads Lead To Rome’ – in fact that expression was used by Michael de Semlyen as the title for his excellent book that exposes the efforts of Rome to utilise the modern ecumenical movement as a means of bringing ‘separated brethren’ back into the Pope’s flock. Incidentally this book can still be obtained from us [price £6.50 includes p&p]. In the March-June 2004 issue of ALPHA NEWS there is a detailed account of a visit by Nicky Gumbel, his wife Pippa and their son, Jonny to Rome and in the course of the visit they ‘were presented to the Pope by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Preacher to the Papal Household’. ‘Father’ Cantalamessa has featured previously on the front page of ALPHA NEWS and last year was a guest ‘preacher’ at Holy Trinity Brompton. Not only did Nicky Gumbel meet the Pope ‘at the end of a General Audience’ but he also met representatives of ‘The Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith’. This ‘Congregation’ is simply the modern title since 1967 of what was previously known as ‘The Office of The Inquisition’ – the Papal approved organisation charged to root out and destroy heresy and an honest look at history will tell of how the blood of many true Christian martyrs bears testimony to its ruthless efficiency.

Peter De Rosa in his book ‘Vicars of Christ’ wrote ‘It is clear from this that the aim of the Inquisition was to defend, not the faith, but the papal system [p 232]…once a pope like Gregory 1X had initiated the inquisition, pontiffs preferred to contradict the Gospel [rather] than an “inerrant” predecessor, for that would bring down the papacy itself [p 245]…An anonymous Catholic once said “It would be better to be an atheist than believe in the God of the Inquisition” [p 251]’.

The article in ALPHA NEWS quoted glowing references from Roman Catholic clergy who view ALPHA as a vital tool in heeding the present Pope’s call for a ‘new evangelisation’ – The Pope’s ‘new evangelisation’ is aimed at educating and galvanising Roman Catholics to go out and Romanise and Sacramentalise the world. In another article I recently wrote this about ALPHA

As long as ALPHA continues to present what I would describe as an ‘anorexic skeleton’ of Christianity, Rome is quite happy to let her people attend. However, afterwards, by way of follow up, Rome ‘fleshes out’ this ‘anorexic skeleton’ by showing her people a series of videos entitled ‘Drink From The Wells of The Church’ [not the Scriptures!] This series of videos feature ‘Father’ Raniero Cantalamessa [a welcome guest ‘preacher’ at the Holy Trinity Brompton Church – home of ALPHA] who is a ‘Papal Preacher’ and in them he introduces those watching to all the “damnable heresies” [2 Peter 2:1] of Rome. On the order form to purchase these videos it states – ‘ideal for group use to follow Alpha’.

The absence of meaningful, biblical doctrinal content in ALPHA means that we read the following comments [with some comments by myself added] in this ALPHA NEWS article –

‘Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, France has taken a close interest in the growth of Alpha in the country…he said “For the French Church, Alpha is a great opportunity for our time. It is a wonderful gift that we have received from England”

‘The Catholic Church in Scotland is being encouraged to use Alpha by Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh…he said “A priority for me on my appointment was the ‘re-Christianisation [‘re-Catholicisation’] of Scotland’. I see the Alpha course as an initial tool [no doubt to be built upon by ‘Father’ Cantalamessa’s video series mentioned above] for this programme”.

One Catholic lay-reader, Mrs Mary Hagar of Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA runs Alpha in two parishes near her home… “I went to an Alpha training programme on the east coast and I came out saying ‘This is what I’ve looked for my whole life. This is the programme that is going to change lives…For those of us who are Catholic, Alpha is the tool that is bringing into reality in our lifetime the church we have always dreamed of’”.

Alpha may for Mrs Hagar be ‘bringing into reality the church that she has always dreamed of’ but in reality Alpha is helping to up-build ‘the church’ that God specifically warned His people against in Revelation chapter 17. ALPHA NEWS quotes Nicky Gumbel’s comments upon his return from Rome. For any true Christian who knows anything about Rome’s treatment of believers down through the ages and up to and including today, these comments will make sad reading. Nicky Gumbel said [with some comments by myself added] –

‘It was a great honour to be presented to Pope John Paul 11, who has done so much to promote evangelisation around the world [like setting his seal of approval upon the 1994 ‘Catechism of the Catholic Church’ that teaches every soul-damning (2 Peter 2:1) Roman Catholic heresy?] We have been enormously enriched by our interaction with Catholics in many countries. It is a great privilege to meet inspiring leaders from different parts of the church – Catholic, Baptist, Salvation Army, Pentecostal, Lutheran, Methodist, and so many more – and discover that what unites us [ERROR!] is infinitely greater than what divides us [what divides is ‘gospel truth’]. As Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa has pointed out, the battle today is similar to that of the first century [like Paul’s rejection of the ‘false gospel’ of the Judaisers (see Galatians 1:6-9) whose modern-day counterpart is found in Roman Catholicism and its ‘gospel’]. The battle is around the King [Is Nicky Gumbel aware that ‘When the triple crown is placed on the head of a new pope at his “coronation” ceremony the ritual prescribes the following declaration by the officiating Cardinal – “Receive the tiara adorned with three crowns, and know that thou art the Father of Princes and Kings, ruler of the world”’ (Roman Catholicism by Loraine Boettner p 127)]. Is Jesus a Universal Saviour, or just one among many? [The ‘Jesus’ of Roman Catholicism is very much a “Universal Saviour” – in fact he is so “Universal” that according to Rome it is not even necessary to hear about him or believe on him in order to be saved – as you can hear by listening to the audio extract by Pastor John MacArthur posted to our web site. This Roman Catholic ‘Jesus’ is not the Lord Jesus that Paul wanted the lost to hear about so that they might be saved, for without hearing about Paul’s Lord Jesus they would not be able to believe and be saved – see Romans 10: 10-15]. Thus, on the crucial issue of our day, we can be united [in error] and proclaim this Jesus to a desperately needy world’.

I said recently in a talk that I gave on Alpha – ‘it is again my view that any PASTOR, PREACHER or BIBLE TEACHER who co-operates with Rome rather than confronting Rome – such a person, and NICKY GUMBEL is one such person, should not be entrusted with teaching the Word of God for he and they are not, in Paul’s words to Timothy – “faithful men” [2nd Timothy 2: 1-2]’. This report of Nicky Gumbel’s visit to Rome and his audience with the Pope and others has served only to strengthen my expressed convictions.

WAS – C S LEWIS – TRULY ‘OUR GREATEST CHRISTIAN WRITER’? [Part 4]

As stated at the end of part 3 of our studies on the teachings of C S Lewis we come now in this final part to consider his teachings on REDEMPTION. One of the most glorious truths at the heart of the ‘Gospel of Christ’ is the message of redemption. It has gripped the hearts of hymn writers when they penned words like ‘Redeemed how I love to proclaim it, redeemed by the blood of the lamb’ and ‘There is a redeemer, Jesus, God’s own Son, precious lamb of God, Messiah, Holy One’.

I want to consider this matter of redemption from two angles – I want firstly to look at what C S Lewis believed about what I would call ‘individual redemption’ and then to look at what C S Lewis believed about what I would call ‘corporate redemption’.

Before homing in on these two ‘angles’ let us first establish the clear biblical meaning of ‘redemption’. In his ‘Dictionary of Theological Terms’, Alan Cairns wrote ‘the deliverance of God’s elect from a state of sin into a state of salvation by the means and merit of the ransom paid by Christ on their behalf’. Mr Cairns went on to quote from John Owen’s classic ‘Death of Death’ (p 147) – ‘Redemption…is the delivery of any one from captivity and misery by the intervention “lutrou” of a price or ransom. That this ransom, or price of our deliverance was the blood of Christ is evident’.

Through the sacrificial shedding of His blood on the Cross of Calvary Christ paid a ransom price to purchase a ‘group of people’ and so release them from their ‘state of sin’ [condemned] and bring them into a ‘state of salvation’ [justified]. We learn who this ‘group of people’ are when we read the words of Paul to the Ephesian Elders in Acts 20:28 – “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church, which he [Christ] hath purchased with his own blood”.

‘The Church’ speaks of both ‘individual’ and ‘corporate’ redemption.

Not only do this ‘group of people’, the ‘individuals’ who ‘corporately’ make up ‘The Church’, now belong to Christ, but they also enjoy a special benefit that flows from that ‘blood bought’ Calvary transaction. John Murray, in his book, ‘Redemption: Accomplished and Applied’ wrote ‘when Paul says that in the beloved “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” [Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14], it is quite plain that he conceives the forgiveness of sins as the blessing accrued from blood redemption…the death of Christ is redemptively efficacious in reference to sin’.

The question we must consider is this. To what effective extent has Christ redeemed the ‘individuals’ who ‘corporately’ comprise ‘The Church’? Is ‘individual’ redemption ‘plenary’ or ‘partial’? Is ‘corporate’ redemption effectively limited only to ‘The Church’?

Where ‘individual’ redemption is considered, the teaching of Scripture is clear. As far as an individual’s “sin” is concerned there is ‘plenary’ [FULL] forgiveness and not ‘partial’. Twice in the book of Hebrews God spells out what has been accomplished in the realm of “forgiveness” as a result of the redemptive work of Christ, WHO ALONE is “the mediator of the new covenant” (Hebrews 12:24). In Hebrews 8:12 God says “their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more” and He repeats His promise in Hebrews 10:17.

When God forgives a true “born again” believer – He forgives FULLY and that person is no longer under “condemnation” – which is the position of every unregenerate unbeliever – John 5:24 “verily, verily I say unto you, he that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation but is passed from death [CONDEMNED] unto life [JUSTIFIED]”

In an article in the December 2003 Evangelical Times entitled ‘Why Was Jesus Born’? Peter Jeffrey cited the equivalent of a modern-day ‘parable’ when he wrote ‘Christmas is probably the most expensive time of the year. All those presents…have to be paid for. When January comes and the credit card bills roll in, the full cost is seen. We may end up heavily in debt. But wait a moment, ‘Why Jesus Was Born’ is about the cost God was willing to pay to remove your debt of sin. What if in January your credit card debt was FULLY paid by someone else…Your sin has run up an enormous ‘debt’…if you turn to Jesus and trust in His death for the forgiveness of your sin…you will find that Jesus has paid the debt [FULLY] for you. That is why He was born and that is why He died’.

Did C S Lewis teach that, for a believer, their ‘debt was FULLY paid by someone else’ – that ‘someone else’ being Jesus Christ and that upon death they would go immediately “to be with Christ which is far better” [Philippians 1:23]? The answer sadly is a resounding ‘No!’ In his book ‘Prayer: Letters to Malcolm’ C S Lewis wrote [p 109-111] –

‘Of course I pray for the dead. The action is so spontaneous, so all but inevitable, that only the most compulsive theological case against it would deter men [Cecil’s comment – would “There is therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1) be a sufficiently ‘compulsive theological case against’ praying for the dead?] And I hardly know how the rest of my prayers would survive if those for the dead were forbidden. At our age the majority of those we love best are dead. What sort of intercourse with God could I have if what I love best were unmentionable to Him? On the traditional Protestant view, all the dead are damned or saved. If they are damned, prayer for them is useless. If they are saved, it is equally useless…To pray for them presupposes that progress and difficulty are still possible. In fact you are bringing in something like Purgatory. Well, I suppose I am…I believe in Purgatory…the very etymology [origin] of the word Purgatory has dropped out of sight. Its pains do not bring us nearer to God, but make us forget Him. It is a place not of purification but purely of retributive punishment [a wrong view in the opinion of C S Lewis]. The right view returns magnificently in Newman’s Dream. There if I remember rightly, the saved soul, at the very foot of the throne, begs to be taken away and cleansed. It cannot bear for a moment longer ‘with its darkness to affront that light’. Religion has reclaimed Purgatory. Our souls demand Purgatory, don’t they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us “It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy”? [Cecil’s comment – these sentiments are Biblically true because believers are “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6) and “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (1 John 1:7)] Should we not reply “With submission sir, and if there is no objection, I’d rather be cleaned first”. It may hurt you know – “Even so, sir”. [Cecil’s comment – Did C S Lewis never read what Paul wrote to vile sinners who had become believers? – “And such were some of you, but ye are WASHED, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11)] I assume that the process of purification will normally involve suffering…But I don’t think suffering is the purpose of the purgation. I can well believe that people neither much worse nor much better than I will suffer less than I or more. No nonsense about merit. The treatment given will be the one required, whether it hurts little or much. My favourite image of this comes from the dentist’s chair. I hope that when the tooth of life is drawn [death] and when I am coming round [entering eternity] a voice will say, “Rinse your mouth out with this”. This will be Purgatory. The rinsing may take longer than I can now imagine. The taste of this may be more fiery and astringent than my present sensibility could endure. But More and Fisher shall not persuade me that it will be disgusting and unhallowed’.

These teachings of C S Lewis are a clear denial of the Biblical teachings of the inspired, revealed extent to which Christ has redeemed ‘individuals’! But what about the effective extent of Christ’s ‘corporate’ redemption – is it effectively limited only to that ‘group of people’, those ‘individuals’, who ‘corporately’ comprise ‘The Church’.

The Bible teaches that only Christians, only those “born again” [John 3:5], only those who “by one Spirit…were all baptised into one body” [1 Corinthians 12:13] are members of ‘The Church’. Commenting on this verse from Corinthians in an article in the January 2004 Evangelical Times entitled ‘Baptised by the Spirit’, Stan Evers wrote ‘Paul writes “by one baptism we were all baptised”, but which baptism does he mean? Paul’s words echo John the Baptist’s prediction: “I indeed baptise you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Luke 3:16). We learn from John’s words that there is a distinction between water baptism and Spirit baptism. The Spirit baptism places us into Christ’s body, the church [Cecil’s comment – Paul writes “And he [Christ] is the head of the body, the church” (Colossians 1:18)] Water baptism is a public declaration that we are in Christ’s body’.

The Apostle Paul knew and taught that only those who had “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” [1 Corinthians 2:2] preached to them and who were “quickened” [brought to spiritual life] [Ephesians 2:1] and who were “baptised” [1 Corinthians 12:13] by that “one spirit” were in “the body, the church” and belonged to Christ for he wrote in Romans 8:9 “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his”. This is why Paul wrote so passionately of missionary endeavour in Romans 10:13-15 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher. And how shall they preach except they be sent.” Paul knew that “the gospel of Christ…is the power of God unto salvation” [Romans 1:16] and that “it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe”. If there is no preaching of “the gospel of Christ” there will be no belief “in him” and no one can be “saved”.

So, the effective extent of Christ’s ‘corporate’ redemption, according to the Bible, is limited to those who have “the gospel of Christ” preached to them and who by the work of the Holy Spirit are subsequently “converted” [Matthew 18:3]. Did C S Lewis believe and teach that? Again, sadly, the answer is yet another resounding ‘No’.

On page 173 of ‘Mere Christianity’ C S Lewis wrote –

‘There are people in other religions who are being led by God’s secret influence to concentrate on those parts of their religion which are in agreement with Christianity and who thus belong to Christ without knowing it. For example, a Buddhist of good will may be led to concentrate more and more on the Buddhist teaching about mercy and to leave in the background (although he might still say he believed) the Buddhist teaching on certain other points. Many of the good Pagans long before Christ’s birth may have been in this position…Consequently it is not much use trying to make judgments about Christians and non-Christians in the mass’. [Cecil’s comment – if this were true then there would be no point in sending missionaries to ‘merciful Buddhists’ and ‘good Pagans’]

These teachings of C S Lewis are a clear denial of the Biblical teachings of the inspired, revealed effective extent of Christ’s ‘corporate’ redemption of ‘The Church’. I think the simplest overall way to summarise the false teachings of C S Lewis on these points is to say that he has ‘under-estimated individual redemption’ and ‘over-estimated corporate redemption’.

When we examine biblically the teachings of C S Lewis on ‘redemption’ and also consider his teachings on ‘repentance’ and ‘regeneration’ that we previously looked at, we must really wonder how it came to be that someone as highly esteemed in ‘evangelical’ circles as Derick Bingham actually described C S Lewis as ‘our greatest Christian writer’. Roger Fay, a Pastor in Ripon, England, who is not given to the use of excessively inflammatory language, in an article in the January 2002 Evangelical Times wrote – ‘It is debatable whether C S Lewis was regenerate’. John Robbins of The Trinity Foundation, in an article entitled ‘Did C S Lewis Go To Heaven’? wrote – ‘Did C S Lewis go to Heaven? Our answer must be: Not if he believed what he wrote in his books and letters’. In the light of my own studies I would certainly not agree with Derick Bingham’s assessment of C S Lewis and I would require a lot of biblical convincing to disagree with the sentiments of either Roger Fay or John Robbins.

  • MYSTIC MUSINGS of HENRI NOUWEN

A Christian friend who currently lives in British Columbia, Canada, but who is originally from Northern Ireland, asked me if I could supply any information about the beliefs of Henri Nouwen. In the words of my friend – Mr Nouwen’s books are ‘being quite widely read’. Before giving details of my reply let me first give you some biographical details that were gleaned from a web site dedicated to Henri Nouwen – [http://nouwen.net/henri.php3] –

‘Henri Jozef Machiel Nouwen was born in the Netherlands in Nijkerk on January 24, 1932…the family…were pious Catholics…Antoon (Toon), was a priest and later a prominent monsignor, who influenced his nephew Henri’s vocation…Henri was a good student, energetic and pious. He expressed his desire to become a priest at age 6…Henri was educated by the Jesuits …He did six years in the major seminary in Rijsenburg/Driebergen, and was ordained priest for the diocese of Utrecht in 1957 by Archbishop B. Alfrink…Immediately after ordination, Henri requested of his Bishop and was granted further study at the University of Nijmegen in Psychology where he spent six years… Henri took two more years of Psychology at the Menninger Institute in Topeka, Kansas. These years were formative years shaping his thinking and the direction of his life…Yale Divinity School approached him with an invitation to teach in 1971…Henri began teaching in the fall of 1971 and taught there for ten years…[among] the books [written] during the Yale years were: Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic: Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery: The Way of the Heart: Desert Spirituality and Contemporary Ministry. During this time certain experiences impacted his life and work at Yale and beyond: He discovered solitude by twice choosing to spend about seven months, living as a monk, in the Trappist Monastery of the Genesee… in 1986 [he] accepted an invitation to become pastor for the L’Arche community of Daybreak in Toronto, Canada…A year after arriving in Daybreak Henri suffered a severe depression. He left the community for seven months of solitude, guidance, and recovery…His return marked perhaps, the beginning of his deepest fulfilment as priest, friend, author, lecturer, and mentor…In 1995 Henri was sent by the people of Daybreak on a year’s sabbatical for writing… he suddenly suffered a second, fatal, heart attack in the early morning of Saturday the 21st of September 1996’.

The following is much of what I wrote in reply to my friend and for further insights I would certainly recommend the book that I mention called ‘A Time of Departing’. As a ministry we do have copies of this book available and further information on it can be obtained not only from the web site link mentioned in this article ‘Lighthouse Trails’ but also by reading the article entitled ‘Contemplative Prayer – Don’t Even Think About It’ which can be found as part of our ‘January 2003 News From The Front’

Dear…

In the mid 80’s ‘healing’ was ‘big’ in professing Christendom thanks to the influence in particular of John Wimber. At that time, as a very new convert, I attended a meeting in Cooke Centenary Presbyterian Church [Ormeau Road, Belfast] promoted by the Church’s Ministry of Healing. It was hosted by the local minister, Rev Jim Campbell, who was heavily involved in the false ecumenical movement – annually participating at Easter in a walk through the Ormeau Park along with the local Roman Catholic Priest and together they would carry a wooden cross. Anyhow, at one point in this meeting Jim Campbell did a little book review and it was of a book called ‘Creative Ministry’ by one Henri J M Nouwen, which I subsequently bought. I later learned from reading details on another book by Nouwen that he had spent time with Buddhist Monks and obviously felt that this had benefited him spiritually. Nouwen has an imaginative and poetic way of putting things – the problem of course is that his ‘musings’ do not line up with what God’s Word teaches. On the back cover of ‘Creative Ministry’ we read this ‘This book is about the life-style of every Christian. For, according to Henri Nouwen, every Christian is a minister – trying to live his life in the light of THE GOSPEL of Jesus Christ…It is essential he maintains that the minister leave himself open, take risks and “lay down his life for his friends” IN ORDER TO GIVE NEW LIFE’ [what ever happened to “Preach the Word” 2 Timothy 4:2 coupled with prayer that the Holy Spirit would bless it to the regeneration/salvation of souls?]. Looking at this book now [many years later] these are just a few of the questionable statements that I underlined at that time.

Page 4 – ‘The most universal and most appreciated role of the Christian ministry through the ages has been teaching. Wherever Christians [Roman Catholics] went to be of service they always considered teaching as one of their primary tasks [so far so good] because of their conviction that increasing insight in man and his world is the way to freedom and new ways of life…they have always read in the Gospel a call to develop the human potentialities to the fullest through ongoing education’. I had written the following comments alongside these words – “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness but unto us who are saved it is the power of God” [1 Corinthians 1:18] – the Gospel is to convict man of his sinfulness for “Faith should not stand in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” [1 Corinthians 2:5]

The problem is that Mr Nouwen [in common with Roman Catholicism] proclaims a false ‘Gospel’ for on page 26 we read ‘for most people there is absolutely no news in the sermon…And THE CORE OF THE GOSPEL – “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and you must love your neighbour as yourself” – [telling people what they must do!] has been repeated so often and persistently that it has lost for the majority of people even the slightest possibility of evoking any response’ [no wonder because they are not being told the true Gospel of what Christ has done!]. Then on page 27 he writes ‘the core message of the Gospel nonetheless contains a Truth that no one has yet fully made true’. Well, considering what Mr Nouwen believes to be ‘the core of the Gospel’ his statement is totally untrue because of course the Lord Jesus whilst here on earth ‘fully made true’ what it is to love God and your neighbour perfectly.

The influence of his ‘Buddhist’ encounters comes through on page 51 where he writes ‘Since the East-West dialogue has become a part of many people’s lives, especially the young, we have become aware of THE FACT that there are two forms of consciousness: one that says be yourself so you can be creative [sinful?] and the other that says lose yourself so God can be creative in you. The former stresses individuality, the latter unification’. I would say the former stresses ‘rebellion’ and the latter stresses ‘submission’ and when he says ‘lose yourself ‘, in the context, is he referring to some Eastern/Buddhist ‘altered state of consciousness’ which they would say is necessary for spiritual enlightenment? If so, in contrast, God’s Word says “The peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts AND MINDS through Christ Jesus” [Philippians 4:7]. On page 52 Mr Nouwen wrote ‘Jesus lived thirty years in a simple family. There He became a man who knew who he was [as a boy of 12 in the temple He knew who He was – see Luke 2:49!] and where He wanted to go. ONLY THEN was He ready to empty Himself and give His life for others’. Jesus did not ’empty Himself’ [the “made himself of no reputation” of Philippians 2:7] after 30 years but from the very instant of His incarnation when He took upon Himself the ‘frailties’ etc of human flesh. He ALWAYS knew who He was and where He was destined to go “When he cometh into the world he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body thou hast prepared for me…Lo I come [in the volume of the book it is written of me] to do thy will O God…By which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all” [Hebrews 10:5-10].

One final example of Mr Nouwen’s mixed up Catholic/Eastern religious philosophy is found on page 105 -‘We will never fully understand the meaning of the sacramental signs of bread and wine [referring to the Mass] when they do not make us realise that the whole of NATURE is a sacrament pointing to a reality far beyond itself. The presence of Christ in the Eucharist becomes a “special problem” only when we have lost our sense of His presence in all that is, grows, lives and dies’.

This is scripture-contradicting PANTHEISM [‘God is all’] and PANENTHEISM [‘God is in all’] – [clearly rejected in the excellent book ‘A Time of Departing’ – You can order and this book by clicking here – it makes reference quite often to the ‘Ragamuffin Gospel’ man Brennan Manning that you are also aware of]. Hope these few thoughts are of helpCecil

Shortly after writing this article I came across the following endorsement of

Mr Nouwen’s book ‘Creative Ministry’ that I referred to –

‘My wife, Kay, recommends this book! In it, Nouwen divides the life of ministry into five categories: teaching, preaching, pastoral care, organizing, and celebrating’

You may be wondering who is the husband of ‘Kay’ who recommends this book – he is RICK WARREN, author of the ‘PURPOSE DRIVEN’ series of books and Pastor of SADDLEBACK VALLEY COMMUNITY CHURCH. For further information on the teachings of Mr Warren please refer to the article ‘Is Willow Creek The Way To Go’?

Sadly, local ‘evangelical’ Pastor/writer, Derick Bingham in his Belfast Telegraph ‘Thought For The Weekend’ of 28 February 2004 wrote – “As Nouwen wrote, ‘He who thinks he has finished is finished. Those who think they have arrived have lost their way!'” In the absence of any ‘caveat’ about the non-Christian views contained in the writings of Henri Nouwen, Mr Bingham could be construed as appearing to set his seal of approval upon his works and could unwittingly introduce an undiscerning believer to theological views that are as out of line with Scripture as are the writings of C S Lewis.

  • CANON WALTER LEWIS and his ‘SOUND OF SILENCE’

In the Belfast Telegraph of 24 January ‘Thought For The Weekend’ was written by the liberal/ecumenical Church of Ireland cleric, Canon Walter Lewis

My ears pricked up when I heard an item on the news recently. There would be a radio broadcast by the BBC Symphony Orchestra of a musical item described as ‘The Sounds of Silence’. It would last 4 minutes and 33 seconds, and there would be silence throughout. No instrument would be played. When interviewed, some members of the orchestra thought a piece of music involving only silence was timely and refreshing in a world of constant activity and sounds. “We rarely experience silence in daily life,” one of them said. The suggestion is that the silence of the instruments would allow the people to embrace the universe of background sounds and noise – of which we are often unaware – as music. The 1960s ‘Sounds of Silence’, or 4’33” piece was the idea of an unconventional American composer, John Cage, who died in 1991. I mention it because it prompts us to consider that silence should have a place in our lives. When we are silent, we become more aware of ourselves and our surroundings. In silence, we can also become more aware of God. The great tradition of ‘mysticism’ in Christianity gives special place to silence as the way into a direct personal experience of God. Mysticism was practised by people like the Quaker, George Fox, St Theresa of Avila and CS Lewis. It involves spending time in silence with God. The underlying truth is that, as we remove all distractions, we will meet God in the silence. In the stillness, we will see our sins and shortcomings and receive God’s love, forgiveness and power to change inwardly. Jesus of Nazareth lived a very public and demanding ministry – teaching, healing, supporting and helping people. But, for Jesus, there was a special place for silence. On different occasions, he withdrew from the crowds, and from his friends, to be alone in the silence and to commune with his heavenly Father in prayer. Silence, and being with the Father, were essential for Jesus in his ministry. Are not silence, and taking time to be with God, more necessary for you and me in our lives today?

Mr Lewis is here advocating that in the ‘silence’ as practised by ‘mystics’ “we can also become more aware of God” and I believe he is suggesting that it was this type of ‘mystic silence’ that the Lord Jesus Christ engaged in when He withdrew from friends and crowds to be alone IN PRAYER with His Heavenly Father. I have already recommended the book ‘A Time Of Departing’ by Ray Yungen in the article on Henri Nouwen and I want in this article to give a few quotes from Ray Yungen’s book that vividly illustrate the spiritual dangers of the ‘mystic silence’ so favourably recommended by Canon Walter Lewis. On pages 17-18 Ray Yungen writes –

‘These mystical faculties are the distinguishing mark of the New Age Movement…An anti-cult Christian writer once described the New Age Movement as a system of thought when, in fact, it is more aptly defined as a system of non-thought. Meditation teacher Ann Wise explained this –

“A man came to see me once saying that he had meditated for an hour a day every day for twelve years. Although he enjoyed the time he spent sitting, he felt he was missing something. From talking to other meditators, he felt that he must have been doing something wrong because he had none of the experiences that he had heard others describe. I measured his brainwaves while he was meditating and discovered that he had spent those twelve years simply thinking”.

This is why New Age style meditation is commonly referred to as the silence. This is not silence as being in a quiet place but the silence as in an inner silence or an empty mind [Canon Lewis wrote ‘as we remove all distractions’] that opens up the mystical facilities. “The enemy of meditation is the mind,” wrote one New Age teacher’. On page 35 Ray Yungen quoted from the book ‘The Mission of Mysticism’ by Richard Kirby –

“Do not reflect on the meaning of the word; thinking and reflecting must cease, as all mystical writers insist. Simply ‘sound’ the word silently, letting go all feelings and thoughts”.

Commenting on this quotation Ray Yungen wrote –

‘Those with some theological training may recognise this teaching as the historical stream going back centuries to such figures as Meister Eckart, TERESA OF AVILA, John of the Cross and Julian of Norwich.

I have included this quote from Ray Yungen’s book because in his article Walter Lewis wrote ‘The great tradition of ‘mysticism’ in Christianity gives special place to silence as the way into a direct personal experience of God. Mysticism was practised by people like the Quaker, George Fox, ST THERESA OF AVILA and CS Lewis’. On pages 46-47 of his book, under a section entitled ‘Christian Kundalini’ [‘Kundalini is a potent power conjured up by Hindu practices that induce an ‘altered state of consciousness’] Ray Yungen wrote – ‘Many Christians might have great difficulty accepting the assessment that what is termed Christian mysticism is, in truth, not really Christian!…To those who are still sceptical I suggest examining the writings of Philip St Romain who wrote a book about his journey into contemplative prayer called “Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality”. This title is insightful because Kundalini is a Hindu term for the mystical power or force that underlies their spirituality…Philip St Romain, a substance abuse counsellor, and devout Catholic lay minister, began his journey while practising contemplative prayer or resting in the still point as he called it…Having rejected mental prayer as “unproductive” he embraced the prayer form that switches off the mind, creating what he called a “mental passivity”. What he encountered next underscores my concern with sobering clarity “Then came the lights! The gold swirls that I had noted on occasion began to intensify, forming themselves into patterns that both intrigued and captivated me…There were always four or five of these; as soon as one would fade, another would appear, even brighter and more intense…They came through complete passivity and only after I had been in the silence for a while”

After this, St Romain began to sense “wise sayings” coming into his mind [Canon Lewis wrote ‘we will meet God in the silence’] and felt he was “receiving messages from another” [Canon Lewis wrote ‘In silence, we can also become more aware of God’] The culmination of St Romain’s mystical excursion was predictable: When you do Christian Yoga or Christian Zen you end up with Christian Samadhi’. [‘Samahdi’ is defined in the book ‘The Spirit of Hinduism’ (p 276) as ‘a trance; a state of pure consciousness of oneness with god’]. For Mr Lewis to equate the occasions on which the Lord Jesus Christ withdrew Himself to meet with His Heavenly Father in prayer – an exercise in which His mind and mental faculties would have been fully active and not in some state of ‘mental passivity’ as experienced by those involved in what Mr Lewis refers to as ‘The great tradition of ‘mysticism’ in Christianity’ – is to falsely represent what the Lord Jesus was actually engaged in and to promote the dangerous ‘Sound of Silence’ so enthusiastically advocated by Mr Lewis. This dangerous practice of seeking ‘The Silence’ has been popularised by mystical groups such as ‘Renovare’ [from a Latin word meaning ‘renewal’] and doctrinally dangerous books such as ‘Celebration of Discipline’ by Richard Foster. In closing let me once again encourage readers who are concerned by these mystical encroachments into ‘the Christian world’ to obtain a copy of Ray Yungen’s book ‘A Time of Departing’.

  • PRAYER POINTS

 1. MINISTRY TRIP TO USA

I shall [DV] be in California from 4-23 June and whilst there I shall be speaking at a conference in San Diego and then in various churches in other parts of California. I would covet your prayers, not only for myself as I travel and speak but also for Margaret who will be ‘holding the fort’ in Ballynahinch during the time I am away.

2. MINISTRY VISIT BY ROGER OAKLAND

Roger Oakland, who is President of “Understand The Times” based in California will be [DV] making a return visit as our guest for a series of ministry meetings scheduled for 23 October – 7 November 2004. His full schedule will be included with our next newsletter but your prayers that the Lord will bless and use our brother are requested.

BOOK RECOMMENDATION

The Mel Gibson movie ‘The Passion of The Christ’ has caused much debate within and without professing Christendom. A MOST helpful book has been written by local minister Rev Ian Brown called ‘What You Need To Know About The Passion Of The Christ’ – copies may be obtained from us – price £5.00 [this includes p&p].

The hidden ‘agendas’ of CARE and EVANGELICAL ALLIANCE [NI]?

Recently the ‘front men’ of these organisations in Northern Ireland sought deliberately to hide their desire for a supposedly ‘evangelical’ outreach to be, in reality, actually an ‘ecumenical’ café venture. This 12-page article can be seen on our Internet web site but I will post a printed copy to all who request such.

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