Volume. XXII, No. 34
Sunday, 17 February 2008

From the Pastors Heart: Disturbing Books

Reading Roger Oakland’s book, Faith Undone, is a disturbing experience (Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2007).  Another book, Deceived by Purpose, is equally disturbing (Warren Smith, 2nd ed., Mountain Stream Press, 2004).  Both books expose many faults of a new movement called “The Emerging Church” and many popular preachers.  What disturbs me is that light is being called as darkness, and darkness as light in our churches according to these books.  Professing Christians are flocking to certain churches and popular preachers without spiritual discernment.  A recent 60 Minutes video clip shows Joel Osteen, Pastor of Lakewood Church in Texas.  In his recent interview with 60 Minutes program in America, he was known to be a preacher not mentioning the name of God in his messages.  His messages are named as Prosperity Gospel, but tens of thousands of people are coming to hear him.  He has been accused as misleading his people and being shallow in his teachings.  It is hard to believe that professing Christians are satisfied by hearing messages without the name of God.  It may be a sign of shabby and shallow Christianity for today.  Those two books I have mentioned have given us plenty of warnings against new trends in Christian churches and false teachings.  For example, Oakland says (p. 16), “Emergent leaders say the Christian faith needs to be reinvented or reimagined for the 21st century.  They insist that a new faith and a new kind of church must be established in order to reach this generation.”  Behind this movement, there are a few influential individuals such as Peter Drucker. He believed that “people’s needs supersede doctrine or institutional structure” (pp. 27-28).  Interestingly enough, in his book Landmarks of Tomorrow, he uses a few terms profusely such as purpose, emergence, new frontier and discipline.  Probably, you have heard those words somewhere and must have noticed that some popular books do carry those words quite frequently.  I hope that you will be familiar with names such as Leonard Sweet (professor of Evangelism at Drew University) who was voted as one of The 50 Most Influential Christians in America in 2006.  Rick Warren joined him in 1995 for an audio series titled Tides of Change (p. 30).  Sweet talks about his spiritual journey and mentions about New Light Leaders in his book, Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic.  He names such people as M. Scott Peck, Matthew Fox, Willis Harman, and Morton Kelsey in his book.  One interesting commonality of these individuals is that they are all well known New Agers (p. 32).  One of the people mentioned is Matthew Fox who said, “I foresee a renaissance, ‘rebirth based on a spiritual initiative’ . . . This new birth will cut through all cultures and all religions and indeed will draw forth the wisdom common to all vital mystical traditions in a global religious awakening I call ‘deep ecumenism’” (The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, 5).  He also said that “‘Cosmic Christ’ (as opposed to the historical person of Jesus Christ) resides in all humans” (p. 33).  Such ideas will lead the readers to universalism.  If Christ resides in all humans, who is not going to be saved?  Or, it makes all religions ways to go to heaven.  There is no exclusiveness of Christian faith and truth.  Zondervan Publishing House has been a vehicle to spread the teachings of the emerging church moment.  “Rich Warren says” that “he is Murdoch’s pastor” (who is the owner of the Zondervan Publishing House) [Malcolm Gladwell, “How Rick Warren Built His Ministry,” New Yorker, September 12, 2005], and Murdoch “received a ‘papal knighthood’ from Pope John Paul II for his donation of large sums of money to the Catholic Church (p. 36)


Biblical doctrines are despised and experiences are looked upon.  People begin to say that there is no right or wrong, and every teaching and every religion must be right.  Church leaders begin to argue that we ought to use liturgical worship practices more (p. 58), by which the Word of God becomes insignificant.  Sweet puts it this way: “Post-modern want a God they can feel, taste, touch, hear and smell-a full sensory immersion in the divine” (Julie B. Sevig, “Ancient New, The Lutheran, September, 2001).  While the Bible says that faith comes from hearing the Word of God, the Emerging Church movement teaches that faith comes by something else such as “seeing images, touching icons, smelling incense, and hearing chants and liturgical recitations” (p. 59).  Robert Webber has been teaching at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary and Wheaton College as professor of Theology.  He says that certain books are indispensable to spirituality.  Some of the authors of books he recommends are Meister Eckhart, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and Thomas Merton, who are all Catholic mystics.  Dan Kimball, who wrote The Emerging Church, said, “In a post-Christian world, pluralism is the norm.  Buddhism, Wicca, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, or an electric blend-it’s all part of the soil” (p. 15).  He also said, “Aesthetics is not an end in itself.  But in our culture, which is becoming more multi-sensory and less respectful of God, we have a responsibility to pay attention to the design of the space where we assemble regularly.  In the emerging culture, darkness represents spirituality.  We see this in Buddhist temples, as well as Catholic and Orthodox churches.  Darkness communicates that something serious is happening” (pp. 66-67).  It is amazing that people feel spiritual by being in darkness.  It is not the kind of worship the Bible teaches.  Drumming is another means to make people feel more spiritual (p. 70).  Quite often, popular preachers encourage their congregations to practice contemplative prayer.  However, “the underlying premise of contemplative spirituality is the belief that God is in all things and in all people, virtually in all of creation (panentheism)” (p. 85). 


Richard Foster wrote Celebration of Discipline and published it in 1978.  Christianity Today named it number eleven in the “Top 50 Books that have shaped evangelicals.”  In this book, Foster said, “[W]e should all without shame enrol as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.”  In this book he recommends Tilden Edwards, who is the founder of the Shalem Institute in Washington D. C.  Edwards said that “contemplative prayer is what bridges Eastern religions with Christianity.”  He also said, “[T]he more popular Eastern impact in the West through transcendental meditation, Hath Yoga, the martial arts, and through many available courses on Eastern religions in universities, has aided a recent rediscovery of Christian apophatic mystical tradition” (p. 86).  Henri Nouwen is an influential figure who brought contemplative prayer into churches.  In his books, In the Name of Jesus and Way of the Heart, he has shown his sympathy to contemplative prayer.  Kay Warren, wife of Rick Warren, highly recommends In the Name of Jesus, even to say that she highlighted almost every word.  Nouwen said in Sabbatical Journey as following: “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not.  Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God” (p. 89).  He also said in his book, Here and Now: “The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is also the God who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being” (p. 90).  All these sayings indicate that the Word of God is less and less important, and that there is a high ride of mysticism and paganism coming in and conquering the minds of professing Christians.  By the way, “Thomas Merton at the end of his life said he wanted to be the best Buddhist he could be.  Henri Nouwen at the end of his life said all paths lead to God” (p. 100).


“In his book Cure for the Common Life, Max Lucado quotes Buber’s statement that ‘a divine spark lives in every being and thing.’  This quote is from Buber’s 1950 book The Way of Man where Buber also says: ‘All men have access to God, but each man has a different access.’  He clarifies his interspiritual beliefs when he adds ‘God does not say: This way leads me and that does not,’ but He says, ‘Whatever you do may be a way to me.’” (p. 103).  Rob Bell, pastor of Mars Hill said in a 2004 Christianity Today article titled “Emergent Mystique,” “We’re rediscovering Christianity as an Eastern religion, as a way of life” (p. 109).  Rick Warren has respected Ken Blanchard as a Christian and defended him.  He has stood side by side with him to speak to people.  Listen to Blanchard what he has to say: “Buddha points to the path and invites us to begin our journey to enlightenment. I ... invite you to begin your journey to enlightened work” (he wrote it in forward for the book, What Would Buddha Do at Work?”).  He also said, “I look for inspirational messages from a variety of sources besides Jesus.  Our folks get to hear words of wisdom from great prophets and spiritual leaders like Buddha, Mohammed ... Yogananda and the Dalai Lama”



There are so many more things you need to hear from those two books mentioned in the beginning.  Read them and search the Scriptures to know the truth.  Truly we live in an age of confusions and perversions.  May the Lord deliver us from false teachers and their teachings!



Your Pastor





More Lively Hope




1. Sunday School Teachers are required.  Please see Dn Edwin D’Mello if you are able to serve in this ministry.

2. Church Directory Update: Please provide any new contact details to Sis Josephine Wong.

3. Bro Jonathan Liao is leaving on Wed 20 Feb to Auckland for further Study.

4. Ladies’ Fellowship: Nomination forms for new committee available on literature table.



1. Journey mercies: Elder Michael & Sis Michelle Lee (Adl); Dn David Yeo (Perth); Bro Ngie Joo & Sis Sooi Chin Gong (Jpn); Brothers Richard Tee (Melb/Adl), Daniel Ki & Jonathan Liao (Adl); Sister Serene Wong (Jpn).

2. Provision of Job for Sis Juanita Tong.

3. Church activities: BSAG Prayer Meeting & Bible Study; YAF & Sparks4Christ Video Night.



1. Heath & God’s healing - Rev George & Sis Nan van Buuren, Rev Peter Chua, Rev Peter Clements, Rev Edward Paauwe, Rev Timothy Tow, Dr S H Tow, Preacher Zhang, Dn Yaw Chiew Tan; Bros S Dhamarlingam, Makoto Kobayashi, Raphael Ng’s father, Richard Pearson, Richard Tee, Winston Selvanayagam; Grandpa Ki; Sisters Myung Ki, Alice Lee’s father, Margaret, Dianne, & Sarah Pearson, Aranka Rejtoe, Susan Veradi, Sylvia White & Giok Yeo’s sister-in-law; Auntie Oei & others in affliction.

2. Cambodia Missions - Rev S Choi (Phnom Penh) & Rev D Koo (Sihanoukville).

3. Laos Missions - Bro S Dhamarlingam & family.

4. India/Pakistan Missions - Pastors & Believers.

5. Kuching Missions - Teo family - encouragement.

6. Sketch n’ Tell Ministry - Bro H S Lim.

7. Journey Mercies - Elder & Mrs Thomas Liaw & Family (S’pore); Brothers Jonathan Liao (NZ), Jason Tan; Sisters Marion Chan, Alice Lee, Clara Sim, Wendy Yong (Adl);

8. Jobs - Bro Daniel Volvricht.

9. The Lord’s provision for a new church van and floor coverings for our Sunday School rooms.

10. Accommodation for Sisters Gillian Ong and          Min Yen Chia in Melbourne.

11. Bro Richard Tee will be having surgery on 20 February 2008

12. Sister B-P Churches in Australia.

13. Persecution: Believers suffering in Islamic countries.

14. Ebenezer BPC, Melbourne: Session Election next week

15. Evangel BPC, PJ: Elder Dr Lim & Congregation



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