Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Concerns About Kirk Cameron's Movie "Monumental"

Posted by Christine Pack

Former teen actor Kirk Cameron, who famously converted to Christianity a number of years ago, has had an interesting Christian walk, to say the least. Almost 10 years ago, after hearing a sermon by evangelist Ray Comfort that rocked his world, Cameron contacted Comfort to discuss Comfort's powerful sermon, and the two subsequently became friends. Eventually, Cameron and Comfort joined forces with Todd Friel, a former stand-up comedian, also turned born again Christian, and the three began to work together on a satellite radio program called Way of the Master (also known as WOTM, and so named after the witnessing method Comfort had used so powerfully in the sermon that had caught Kirk Cameron's attention). This Christian ministry rapidly grew in popularity, and featured street witnessing segments using the Way of Master method to stir the consciences of lost sinners.

Eventually, Way of the Master split into two distinct separate ministries: Way of the Master (Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort) and Wretched Radio/TV(Todd Friel), even though all of these men continued to work together doing conferences. Kirk Cameron also starred in the 2008 movie Fireproof, a movie that became wildly popular in the Christian community, and which had at its core a very strong and biblical gospel message. So it should come as no surprise that Cameron has come to be known in the last decade for his strong stance on biblical truth and his devotion to the purity of the gospel message. To say that there is tremendous goodwill toward him in the Christian community would be an understatement.

Having said all that, Cameron's latest movie, Monumental, has proved to be a monumental letdown, in that it apparently does not give a clear gospel message. The movie, which has been promoted by Wretched, also contains factual inaccuracies as well as conflicting messages as a result of Kirk's close association with Mormon Glenn Beck and Reconstructionist David Barton. During the live feed at the premier of the movie, right before showing the film, Cameron introduces Glenn Beck, calling him "one of our biggest supporters of the film and a friend." Rather concerning, given that Glenn Beck is a very outspoken Mormon (with New Age tendencies, no less), and Kirk's close friend Todd Friel is well aware of this. In fact, Todd has exposed Beck's beliefs a number of times (see below), and yet until recently, the Wretched Facebook wall was heavily promoting this movie.

Since the opening of the movie last night, a number of articles have already been written: John Chisham of Wittenburg Church Door weighs in here, Jon Speed, blogger at The Informed Evangelist, weighs in here, authors Vince and Lori Williams weigh in here, and Dr. Warren Throckmorton weighs in here.

I want to state for the record that I have myself benefited tremendously from the Wretched/WOTM radio program (of which Kirk was a founding member), and it was there that I was first introduced to excellent Bible teaching from John MacArthur, Bob DeWaay, Phil Johnson, R.C. Sproul, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, Dan Phillips, Mike Gendron, Ken Ham, etc. It was through such wonderful, biblical, balanced teaching that my own thinking became, by God's grace, more and more aligned with God's word. I thank God for Wretched/WOTM and how those programs helped me grow in discernment. Host Todd Friel has a masterful way of using his humor and his intellect to make his points.

So I will close this post by pointing out that Wretched Radio has a highly discerning audience. Todd Friel has taught his listeners and viewers extremely well when it comes to training them in discernment. In an eight minute clip from Wretched TV (August 2011) that can be viewed below, you can watch as Friel dismantles Glenn Beck and his New Age/Mormon beliefs. I therefore cannot imagine that a moralistic movie with no gospel message, even starring someone as well-liked and well-intended as Cameron appears to be, is going to get past the radar of most Wretched followers......especially when it has been enthusiastically endorsed by a New Age Mormon. But we'll have to see how this all plays out, won't we? We're living in curious times.


(NOTE: Todd Friel of Wretched Radio/TV has made a public statement about Kirk Cameron and the Monumental film which can be read here.)



photo credit: TerranceDC via photopin cc

 Additional Resources 

It's Official: Mormonism Crazier than Scientology

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Marcia Montenegro Discusses the Occult on Echo Zoe Radio

Marcia Montenegro's
website, CANA
Posted by Christine Pack

Two of my good friends recently got together and did an interview that should be required listening for anyone with concerns about New Age practices. Marcia Montenegro, who is a friend of mine, and who, like me, has a background in the New Age and occult, was recently interviewed by my friend Andy Olson. Marcia was a former professional astrologer before becoming a Christian and has a fascinating testimony. Marcia was a New Ager and licensed professional astrologer before becoming a born again Christian. Marcia has a Masters degree in Religion from Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES) and is now a Christian researcher. She has a strong desire to help her brothers and sisters in Christ become more aware of false teachings (such as those she was saved out of) and how they are infiltrating the church today. Marcia is the author of the book Spellbound and also publishes articles at her website, Christian Answers for the New Age (CANA).

My friend Andy Olson has a Christian radio show out of Minneapolis called Echo Zoe. On his show, Andy has covered a white variety of topics, and has had a number of notable past guests, including Pastor Carl Johnson, Bob DeWaay, David Wheaton, Phil Johnson, Dr. James White and Sandy Simpson.

On this program, Marcia and Andy covered a lot of material: Feng Shui, Magic 8 Ball, Pendulum, Harry Potter, Tarot Cards, Astrology, Ouija Boards, Palm Reading, Numerology, Spirit Guides, etc. Marcia explained in depth what these things are, and how they can open people up to the demonic realm.  Many Christians today are innocent to the occultic (forbidden) nature of these practices (as referenced in Deuteronomy 18), and thus unwittingly participate in them without knowing the dangers involved. Please listen to this important program and share it with anyone you know who might be dabbling in any of these occultic practices.

The program can be listened to in its entirety here.


 Additional Resources 

Interview On "A Trojan Horse in Healthcare"
(Marcia Montenegro & Christine Pack with host Ingrid Schlueter)

Christian Answers For The New Age (CANA)

Echo Zoe Radio

Friday, March 23, 2012

Romantic Panentheism: A review of Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts"


Romantic Panentheism: A Review of One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Critical Issues Commentary, Issue 120
by Christian researcher and apologist, Bob DeWaay; reprinted with permission



If I were to write this review in the style Ann Voskamp used in writing her book, it would read like this:
Sunlight streams through window. Shadows on keyboard. I sit here. I want to separate substance from style and deal only with substance as I contemplate a book. Before me lies One Thousand Gifts, a book written by Ann Voskamp, farmer's wife, Canadian. Ann writes in person first, tense present, style poetic. Two hundred thirty-seven pages speak of angst personal and thankfulness God-given and quote Julian of Norwich, Annie Dillard, Brennan Manning, Henri Nouwen, Teilard de Chardin and others. The style I find difficult. Of that I will not speak. The substance is of concern. Of that I will speak.
But let us leave the first person present poetic to her and deal with her message.

Let me state this clearly: Ann Voskamp has written a book sharing her pain and offering help through her discovery of eucharisteo_ (to give thanks). She chose a literary style that I and other reviewers found difficult to work with, but the style she chooses is her prerogative. Where her work warrants challenge is in her reliance on panentheism, romanticism, sensual language and those whose viewpoints she approvingly cites. What follows is my evaluation of Voskamp's contribution, and, through my analysis I intend to protect her readers from the errors she has introduced.

Ann Voskamp
Author, One Thousand Gifts
We live in a postmodern theological age where the sensual and mysterious have replaced the rational and cognitive; where many churches promote the idea of worshiping God with all five senses; where feelings trump clear Biblical exegesis, systematic theology, statements of faith—rational approaches to Christian theology. Into this milieu comes One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, a book that takes romanticism to a new level, using sensuality to invoke religious feelings and, ostensibly, true devotion.1

Voskamp weaves a tale of discovery, finding devotion to God through encounters with nature and art, and in her experience, uncovering the secret to joy through what she calls eucharisteo_ ("giving thanks" transliterated from the Greek).

Begrudging Voskamp her religious feelings is not my purpose here, nor is disagreeing with the basic thesis that Christians ought to give thanks to God in all things. But I do object to the panentheistic worldview Voskamp espouses in the book and the accompanying romanticism. First we will explore panentheism and romanticism to show why these ideas are of concern.

 Panentheism 

Voskamp sees God in everything, and that concept has a name—panentheism. We must distinguish panentheism from pantheism, the belief that God is everything. If we accept that God is in everything, then we accept that God can be discovered and understood through encounters with nature. Voskamp shows that she knows what is wrong with pantheism:
Pantheism, seeing the natural world as divine, is a very different thing than seeing divine God present in all things. I know it here kneeling, the twilight so still: nature is not God but God revealing the weight of Himself, all His glory, through the looking glass of nature. (Voskamp: 110)
But she falls into a trap when she replaces it with panentheism.2 Furthermore, her conclusion that passages like those in Psalm 19 and Romans 1 speak of God in everything is not a valid implication. Why? Because these passages speak of general revelation. Nature, the vehicle for God's expressing general revelation, is fallen and does not reveal "all His glory." Christ does that, and what can be discerned about God through nature is not saving knowledge, but condemning knowledge. The book of Romans makes that clear:
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. (Romans 1:20-23)
The nature religions of the pagans see God in creation, worship creation, and do not come to messianic salvation. Paul claims that salvation comes only through the gospel, which comes to us through special, not general, revelation. Voskamp confuses these two categories throughout her book. For example: "And every moment is a message from the Word-God who can't stop writing His heart" (Voskamp: 86). Voskamp claims that the ability to see God in everything is the key to getting such messages. Pagans live in the same time-space world we do and do not receive infallible, inerrant, and binding revelation from God from that world. Instead, they live in darkness, and if they seek messages from God through the moments in this world, what they receive will lead to pagan mysticism and not anything that is clearly and bindingly revealed by God.

Voskamp would likely recoil from the notion that she is promoting pagan nature religion. But she puts Christians on the same footing as the pagans by taking them on a journey to find God in nature and art. She thereby promotes mysticism. Her concepts about God that are distinctively Christian are borrowed from special revelation (the Bible). But she never makes a distinction between general revelation and special revelation, and by integrating the two so seamlessly, she elevates nature to the status of saving revelation. Since God is supposedly in everything, then God can be found in everything. And that is panentheism.

Much of the current evangelical world is being seduced by panentheism, and we need to understand what is unbiblical about it. Many think that panentheism is a logical implication from the Christian concept of omnipresence—that God is everywhere. Their confusion has left the door open for the New Age to enter the church.

Here is what we are dealing with. God is not limited spatially—that is a valid Biblical concept. This means there is nowhere where He is not – Psalm 139:7-10. But panentheism describes an ontological (ontology—the study of being, what a thing is in its essential nature), not spatial category. Panentheism teaches that God's essence or being is in everything. This is not the same as the doctrine of omnipresence, though panentheism would agree that God is everywhere.

Here is the problem. If God in His essence and essential being is found in everything, then there is nothing unique about Christ (which is precisely the New Age claim). Biblically, Christ reveals God and His glory in a way nature does not. Nature reveals God obliquely, not concretely and verbally. Jesus, on the other hand, spoke inerrant, binding words that will judge us on the last day (John 12:48). The moon does no such thing.

Panentheism permeates Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. As an example of her panentheism, Voskamp describes an experience where she finds salvation by gazing at a full moon in a harvested wheat field:
Has His love lured me out here to really save me? I sit up in the wheat stubble, drawn. That He would care to save. Moon face glows. We are head to head. I am bare; He is bare. All Eye sees me (Voskamp: 115).
Her experience is described in salvific terms: "It's dawning, my full moon rising. I was lost but know I am found again" (Voskamp: 118). She claims an "inner eye" that sees God in a panentheistic way: "If my inner eye has God seeping up through all things, then can't I give thanks for anything? . . . The art of deep seeing makes gratitude possible" (Voskamp: 118). In Romans 1, "seeing" God through general revelation in a way that makes all humans culpable is true for all, not just for special enlightened ones like Voskamp.

The claim that salvation can be found in seeing God in the harvest moon introduces some troubling factors. One is that Voskamp implies that for her, "salvation" is being saved from an unhappy life filled with ingratitude. She never mentions God's wrath against sin (she does mention sin but not in the context of substitutionary atonement). Another is that she completely confuses then merges general and special revelation. General revelation does not offer saving knowledge, whatever she meant to convey of her experience "chasing the moon" (her terminology). Yet another is that panentheism is again implied here as it has been throughout the book.

Before we go further we must consider two theological terms important in Christian teaching: immanence, meaning God is close at hand, and transcendence, meaning God is exalted above and beyond us and the creation. These are relational and ontological categories and not spatial ones as I mentioned before. Voskamp confuses these two concepts and, like many liberal and Emergent theologians, promotes God's immanence at the expense of His transcendence. I am concerned that her confusion will likely be imparted to most of her readers.

Consider this passage from Isaiah that reveals both immanence and transcendence: "For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit In order to revive the spirit of the lowly And to revive the heart of the contrite'" (Isaiah 57:15). That God is "high and exalted" means that the Creator is separate from His creation, is above and beyond it, and thus transcendent. God is not one of the many nature gods of the pagans. "Above" and "beyond," when used in this way, denote God's essence and being (ontology), not His spatial relationship to the universe.

But God is also "with the contrite." Here we see the key to understanding immanence. It does not say that God is universally "with" all people only if they have the right "inner eye." The Bible says "The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous" (Proverbs 15:29). "Far from" and "near" in such contexts are also relational and not spatial. God hears prayers and personally relates to those who seek Him and are willing to come to Him on His terms. This relationship is available through Jesus Christ who is to be believed and trusted and is not available through the moon. God is near to all sinners spatially, because in Him they live and move and have existence (Acts 17:28). But if they refuse to repent and believe God as He has revealed Himself through Jesus Christ whom He raised from the dead, they will remain far from Him in a relational sense (see Acts 17:30-32). The moon cannot resolve the problem of sinners' lost condition, but the Son will if they repent (Acts 17:30, 31).

Voskamp's panentheism is not compatible with Christian theism. This worldview is very popular in today's culture, inside and outside the church, but it is not from God. Rather, it is a departure from the faith once for all delivered to the saints. My notes taken as I read Voskamp reveal panentheism on many pages (16, 31, 54, 89, 109, 110, 112, 118, 119, 124, 137, 138, 185, and 195). It is no exaggeration to say that the entire book is written from a panentheistic perspective.

Voskamp even finds Christ in everyone, including the lost encountered in the inner city: "A long night doing what we've come to do, to bless Christ in the other" (Voskamp: 185). The Bible claims that only believers are indwelt by Christ through the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:9). Voskamp's panentheism spills into universalism as it does in Emergent and the New Age. It colors everything she teaches.

 Romanticism 

Voskamp displays Romanticism throughout her book so we must address its impact here. Romanticism—the idea that truth could be found in feelings, art, and the intuitive rather than through empirical investigation and the rational—arose in the early 19th Century as a reaction against the Enlightenment and rationalism. I believe the Emergent movement is a new Romanticism,3 and I am quite sure that this assessment is accurate. Romanticism, old and new, has a common enemy which is the Enlightenment.

Voskamp is not so concerned about the Enlightenment or other philosophical considerations but presents Romanticism throughout her book. In fact, One Thousand Gifts could be mistaken for a romance novel with God the desired lover. Here is an example:
I long to merge with Beauty, breathe it into lungs, feel it heavy on skin. To beat on the door of the universe, pound the chest of God . . . No matter how manifested, beauty is what sparks the romance and we are the Bride pursued, the Lover pursuing, and known or unbeknownst, He woos us in the romance of all time, beyond time. I ache for oneness (Voskamp: 119).
The Bible speaks of the church as the Bride of Christ but does not describe the universal call of the gospel in sensual terms of a lover pursuing His love interest (who may have no interest in return). God is commanding sinners to repent. The gospel calls for repentance and faith, not romantic feelings looking for satisfaction.

Voskamp's romanticism is enhanced by her skill at describing things in a most sensual manner. The sensual terminology is designed to create a mood, a feeling, a sense of romantic mystery that longs for discovery and fulfillment. Those like me who relish clear description of theological concepts meant to be understood and discerned, will be horribly frustrated by the book. Her book is not meant to be a theological text filled with ideas to be judged true or false, but is instead a literary piece filled with feelings to be relished. For example:
The full life, the one spilling joy and peace, happens only as I come to trust the caress of the Lover, Lover who never burdens His children with shame or self-condemnation but keeps stroking the fears with gentle grace (Voskamp: 146).
This sensuality finds its apex in the last chapter of the book which begins with this sentence: "I fly to Paris and discover how to make love to God" (Voskamp: 201). As a true romantic, she finds the ultimate intimacy (her term) through various experiences in Paris. I will deal with that in a section about mysticism, but for now I will point out that the term "intimacy" is not found in the Bible. It is a sensual term that enhances the romantic appeal of Voskamp's book.

As a reviewer I would like to skirt the subject of intimacy and other sensual terminology, but sensual terminology permeates the book. There is a whole chapter inspired by a soap bubble in a sink, one about driving across a bridge, and the aforementioned one on gazing at the moon. For those who have not read the book, I offer an example of over-wrought sensual (in the broad sense of appealing to one's senses) terminology:
April sun pools into a dishwater sink, liquid daylight on hands. The water is hot. I wash dishes. On my arms, just below the hiked sleeves, suds leave delicate water marks. Suds glisten. And over the soaking pots, the soap bubbles stack. This fragile tension arched in spheres of slick elastic sheets. Light impinges on slippery film. And I only notice because I'm looking for this and it's the rays falling, reflecting off the outer surface of a bubble . . . off the rim of the bubble's inner skin . . . and where they meet, this interference of light, iridescence on the bubble's arch, violet, magenta, blue-green, yellow-gold. Like the glimmer on raven wing, the angles, the hues, the brilliant fluid, light on the waves (Voskamp: 62).
This is how the entire book reads. Sensuality pervades throughout. Romanticism, which values feelings and experience over truth and concrete data, reigns. If washing dishes can be turned into a romantic experience, the job becomes something special, as does life. Yes, this is a literary style, but I'm afraid it is employed at the expense of truth. Voskamp delivers what she seems to want for her readers: an escape from the mundane through seeing beauty in all things.

 God and Time 

In the soap bubble chapter Voskamp teaches the theological error that time is the essence and nature of God when she writes: "Time is where God is. In the present. I AM – His very name" (69). She gains that idea through wrongly interpreting the self-designation of God as I AM to be proof that time is of the essence of God, so therefore God is to be found in the present (Voskamp: 69, 70). Her ideas are remarkably similar to Echkart Tolle's (New Age pantheist) ideas taught in his books The Power of Now and The New Earth,4 where he speaks of "Presence, and I AM" as realities to be discovered by enlightened ones. Voskamp writes: "Time is where God is. In the present. I AM – His very name" (69). When God referred to Himself as I AM, His point in revealing Himself to Moses was not that God is in the present. He was telling Moses that He, God, is the eternal existent One whose being is not contingent on anything outside of Himself. Finding God in the present is the point driven home by Eckhart Tolle; it is not a Biblical idea.

Voskamp makes other statements that teach serious theological errors: "I hardly breathe . . . time is only of the essence, because time is the essence of God, I AM" (Voskamp: 69, 70).5 The theological debate about God's relationship to time is very complex. Some teach that God is timeless based on the idea of God's changelessness and the fact that time involves change. But changeless and timeless are two different things—that time is God's essence is not an implication of I AM terminology and is theologically false. Tolle teaches a concept called "being present" which to him is linked to consciousness of deity. Voskamp has a similar idea: "When I'm present, I meet I AM, the very presence of a present God" (Voskamp: 70). What would it mean to be "not present"? Evidently "being present" for Voskamp has to do with some sort of consciousness that is not always true.

God's relationship to time is a worthy topic, albeit a very difficult and complex one. But Voskamp is not really interested in theology understood cognitively, but rather in romantic feelings about God. Her chapter on time, based as it is on the soap bubble, is about feelings and discovery, not theological conceptions:
I am a hunter of beauty and I move slow [sic] and I keep the eyes wide, every fiber of every muscle sensing all wonder and this is the thrill of the hunt and I could be an expert on life full, the beauty meat that lurks in every moment. I hunger to taste life. God. (Voskamp: 71)
This is about seeing God in the moment (an art for the spiritually enlightened) and in all things (panentheism). Voskamp's chapter is not really about God's relationship to time, but about our attentiveness and awareness that will cause us to see God (Voskamp: 77). In her view, God's relationship to time is a romantic notion, not so much a theological one.

 New Age Sensibilities 

One Thousand Gifts is filled with New Age ideas. For example, Voskamp cites Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a darling with New Age writers: "Nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see" (Chardin as cited by Voskamp: 122). It is possible that a false teacher like de Chardin could have some true ideas, but Voskamp cites him as part of the heading of a chapter precisely at his point of error (and hers). The idea that everything is holy and nothing profane is popular, but unbiblical, and comports with the idea of panentheism. If indeed God is in everything, then nothing is profane. Rob Bell makes the same error in Velvet Elvis when he claims everything is holy.6 The Bible tells us to separate the holy from the profane: "Moreover, they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean" (Ezekiel 44:23). The concept of the profane is also found in the New Testament. What is holy and what is unholy are revealed by God, and to say that certain enlightened ones with an elevated ability to see everything as holy is unbiblical. Heightened feelings and sensibilities that cause everything to be holy and beautiful—Voskamp's point—is a wonderfully romantic notion, but it leads her readers astray because it is wrong. She cites de Chardin because she shares his ideas.

New Age panentheist Matthew Fox also approves of de Chardin:
Teilhard de Chardin calls the Cosmic Christ the "third nature" of Christ, meaning that it takes us beyond the fourth-century conciliar definitions of Christ's human and divine natures into a third realm, "neither human nor divine, but cosmic." He comments that this has "not noticeably attracted the explicit attention of the faithful or of theologians." Clearly Chardin saw the paradigm shift that was implicit in powerful celebration of the Cosmic Christ.7
Fox describes himself as a panentheist who sees God in all things.8 Though Voskamp may not have gotten her ideas from Fox, the similarity of their ideas is easy to see. But why are Christian authors like Voskamp teaching panentheism and promoting New Age ideas?

Emergent writers speak of the "rhythm of God in the world." In their thinking one can tune into this rhythm through man-invented practices.9 The ideas that nothing is profane and that God's rhythm can be found in all things are panentheistic, not Christian. The Christian view is that the created order, because of sin and rebellion, contains good and evil, the holy and the profane. Satan deceives people into thinking that they can tap into something good by using the right techniques rather than by listening to what God has said in the Bible.

Voskamp promotes a means of "seeing" that reminiscent of Emergent teachers:
I speak the unseen into seeing and I can feel it, this steady breathing in the rhythm of grace—give thanks (in), give thanks (out). The eyes focus, apertures capturing Beauty in ugliness. There's a doxology of praise that splits the domestic dark. (Voskamp: 128).
What she means is that seeing God (holiness) in all things is a special spiritual ability obtained by those who learn how: "Contemplative simplicity isn't a matter of circumstances; it's a matter of "focus" (Voskamp: 127). Voskamp cites postmodern mystic Annie Dillard favorably in regard to "seeing" in the contemplative sense (Voskamp: 127). Voskamp tells her son about "seeing" as she understands it—which is so very New Age:
"The practice of giving thanks . . . eucharisteo . . . this is the way we practice the presence of God, stay present to His presence, and it is always a practice of the eyes. We don't have to change what we see. Only the way we see." (Voskamp: 135).
Seeing God in all things in Voskamp's view, becomes the mechanism for transcending the sorrows of the mundane and finding good feelings to overcome the bad ones. She continues to teach: "The only way to fight a feeling is with a feeling" (Voskamp: 136). I counter that Biblical truth would be an alternative. Like all postmodern panentheists, for her the subjective rules over the objective. This, by the way, is also the essence of romanticism.

The real problem is not our failure to see God in everything, but our failure to believe what God has said, and by grace obey. The grand claim of the Bible is that "God has spoken" (Hebrews 1:1, 2). The question is whether we will listen to what God has said or not. Those who are totally alienated from God and teach pagan ideas claim to see God in everything (e.g. Echart Tolle). Voskamp offers what is also offered by the New Age panentheists. The reality is that feeling close to God is not the same as the drawing near to God as discussed in the Bible. Voskamp offers romantic feelings.

 A Romantic Encounter with God 

Voskamp's romanticism reaches its pinnacle in chapter 11. There she describes a trip to Paris where she has an intimate encounter with God through art and architecture. God "woos" her through this encounter and she falls in love. She writes, "I am falling in love. . . . I'm accompanied by this Voice whispering to me new words, new love—urging me, "Respond, respond" (Voskamp: 206). The entire chapter is laced with sensual terminology.

At Notre Dame Cathedral, carried away by the experience, she claims to have found the holy: "This air is old, the ground, holy" (Voskamp: 207). Hold it. On the contrary, the New Testament does not describe holy places, especially not Roman Catholic cathedrals filled with pagan icons and grotesque gargoyles such as at Notre Dame (which means "our lady" referring to the virgin Mary). What exactly, from a Biblical perspective, makes Notre Dame Cathedral "holy"? Are Roman Catholic buildings and statuary inherently holy? Evidently Voskamp thinks so. But then again, a romantic will see that which is good and desirable in any and all things.

There, in a Roman Catholic cathedral which ought to invoke our objection, Voskamp, as do her role models, the mystics of the Middle Ages, finds "intimate union" with God. She describes her experience in this way:
My eyes follow the stone arches rising over us, granite hands clasped in prayer over souls. I think of all who have gone before, the hands of medieval peasants who chiseled the stone under which I now stand. I think of those long-ago believers who had a way of entering into the full life, of finding a passage into God, a historical model of intimacy with God. I lean back to see the spires. (Voskamp: 208).
As mentioned before, the Bible never uses the term "intimacy." We take a huge leap of faith to assume that medieval mystics found a secret to intimacy with God through means other than the gospel itself. Medieval mystical practices are not prescribed in the Bible. Yet Voskamp favorably cites Catholic mystic Henri Nouwen (Voskamp: 205). Mystical teachers and a pagan religious site inspire Voskamp's journey to find romantic intimacy with God.

 Purgation, Illumination, Union: Mystical Union with God 

Then, without apology, Voskamp teaches "purgation, illumination, union," the path to mystical union that has its roots in ancient, pagan, Rome. This path is taught in the Catholic Encyclopedia.10 This threefold path is "common to all forms of mysticism, Christian or otherwise" writes Pastor Gary Gilley who rightly warns the church about it.11

Voskamp next extols the medieval mystics who were instrumental in the building of Notre Dame (Voskamp: 208). She writes about them:
I think how lives, whole generations, were laid down to built this edifice, to find a way in. But they thought the steps to God-consummation were but three: purgation, illumination, union. (Voskamp: 208)
She then describes these steps in glowing terms as she experienced them (Voskamp: 209).

New Age teacher Matthew Fox also endorses these steps and others as the means of a paradigm shift from the Christ of the Bible to the cosmic Christ:
In terms of the history of spirituality, this paradigm shift is from the three stages of purification, illumination, and union that mysticism inherited from Proclus and Plotinus (not from Jesus or the Hebrew Bible since neither of these thinkers was either Jewish or Christian) to the four paths of delight (via positive), letting go (via negative), creativity (via creativa), compassion, i.e., celebration and justicemaking (via transformative). Today "to enter the mysteries" means to enter the mysteries of the four paths of creation spirituality—mysteries of delight, darkness, birthing, compassion. In this section we will explore more fully how the paradigm shift can also be named as moving from the quest for the historical Jesus to the quest for the Cosmic Christ.12
Mysticism and the practices Voskamp endorses that promote it, do lead to a Cosmic Christ, that is a creation-centered one rather than the Christ who bodily ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God. The mystical Christ is immanent only, not transcendent. He is contacted by unbiblical, mystical means rather than through the gospel that saves us from God's wrath against sin.

Voskamp admits that union with Christ is true for all who have repented and believed (Voskamp: 209, 210). She thereby has an understanding that was lacking for the Roman Catholic mystics she extols. So to keep the experience and practice, she posits the union of the threefold path as a higher order experience for Christians: "An ever deepening union, one we experience on the skin and in the vein, feel in the deep pit of the being, an ever-fuller realization of the Christ communion" (Voskamp: 210). So, ordinary Christians have union, but not the deep union that mystics enjoy. This union is what she has as a sister to Brother Lawrence (Voskamp: 210). She describes the experience of union:
I remember this feeling. The way my apron billowed in the running, the light, the air. The harvest moon. I remember. The yearning. To merge with Beauty Himself. But here . . . Now? Really? . . . I am not at all certain that I want consummation. (Voskamp: 211)
She then describes this consummation in yet more sensual terms, as being "courted by God" (Voskamp: 211).

 Sensuality 

Since this idea of consummation (union) is obviously a higher order experience she seeks and finds in Paris, it is therefore something beyond what ordinary Christians have. Voskamp is a mystical pietist.13 She ponders: "I am not at all certain that I want consummation . . . And who wouldn't cower at the invitation to communion with limitless Holiness Himself?" (Voskamp: 211). Obviously, for her "consummation" is a sensual term, that is not true for all Christians or reserved for the eschaton (and still true for all Christians). It is a higher order experience for certain Christians to be had now if they have the ability to see and experience. This experience is mediated, for Voskamp, by the romantic feelings of Paris.

To state this simply: The sensuality of her terminology is inappropriate. She cites 1Corinthians 6:17 which is a warning against fornication and is about all Christians being "joined to the Lord" and applies it to the sensual, higher order experience to which she is wooed in Paris (Voskamp: 211). Since 1Corithians 6:17 is about what is already true for all Christians, how does it apply to her invitation to some sort of sensual consummation for Christians? It does not. So she is abusing the passage to promote her unbiblical, pietistic experience. Here is her description of what happens (found in the same paragraph with the citation from 1Corinthians 6:17):
I run my hand along the beams over my loft bed, wood hewn by a hand several hundred years ago. I can hear Him. He's calling for a response; He's calling for oneness. Communion (Voskamp: 211).
This sensually described invitation to oneness and consummation is presented as a union that is a higher order experience, otherwise she would not need it and would, frankly, have nothing special to offer her readers. She is being "wooed" into "mystical union" (Voskamp: 212, 213) which she calls a romance (Voskamp: 213).

The sensual terms she applies are piled one upon another, painting a picture quite graphic and I think horribly inappropriate. Terms found just on two pages include: "wooing, intimate pursuit, passionate love, caressed, making love, embrace, union, burning of the heart, intercourse disrobed, and etc." (Voskamp: 216, 217). She makes explicit what she is speaking of: "To know Him the way Adam knew Eve" (Voskamp: 217). This terminology goes on, page after page: "intercourse, climax, cohabit, delight wildly, union experientially, leap into Arms" (Voskamp: 218, 219).

She offers a higher order experience for Christians, described in the most sensual and provocative terms. This experience is to be had now, and is not the eschatological consummation all Christians await. It helps to go to Paris and to a Roman Catholic cathedral to find this experience. There is nothing in this that is Biblical. There are not two types of Christians—ordinary ones and others who have achieved the ultimate, mystical union. This sort of false thinking is what led people into monasteries to waste their lives looking for something that evidently the gospel itself does not offer. Do we need to mimic the error of the monastic mystics?

 Conclusion 

As fraught with theological error that this book is, its basic premise is true: as Christians we ought to be thankful people who give thanks in all things. The Bible teaches us that. But do we need to jettison Christian theism in favor of panentheism, objective truth, romantic feelings, and higher order experiences to become thankful? No! God has already provided everything that pertains to life and godliness (2Peter 1:3). When Peter urged Christians to grow in their faith and in Christian virtues, he did not point to a higher order experience based on romantic feelings—he called them to remember:
Therefore, I shall always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you. And I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder, (2Peter 1:12, 13)
Peter also mentions sensuality and it is not good: "For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error," (2Peter 2:18).

There is enough sensuality in the world without us having sensual desires stirred up under the guise of a higher order religious experience in the context of a panentheistic worldview. Voskamp's book feeds into the romantic sensibilities of its postmodern readers, but it does nothing to promote the faith once for all delivered to the saints. One Thousand Gifts pushes the church even farther down the unbiblical road of mysticism that so many are already on. We need to reject this and instead return to objective, Biblical truth.


 END NOTES  

1. Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts; (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010) 110. All further references from this book will be in brackets within this article.
2. We first warned our readers about panentheism in 1994: CIC Issue 23.
3. Bob DeWaay, The Emergent Church – Undefining Christianity; (Minneapolis: DeWaay, 2009), 204.
4. http://www.eckharttolle.com/ see my review of Tolle’s The New Earth
5. The ellipses are in the original and used to create a pause.
6. See CIC Issue 104b for a discussion of Bell’s misuse of the term “holy”
7. Matthew Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, (New York: HarperCollins, 1988), 83.
8. Ibid. 70.
9. I discuss Doug Pagitt’s idea of God’s “rhythm” here: CIC Issue 99
10. www.newadvent.org/cathen/14254a.htm
11. http://www.svchapel.org/resources/book-reviews/4-christian-living/121-finding-our-way-again-the-return-to-the-ancient-practices-by-brian-mclaren
12. Op. Cit.; Fox, 82.
13. See my article on pietism: How Pietism Deceives Christians, CIC Issue 101

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An Elder's Wife Gives Her Testimony About Mars Hill Church

Posted by Christine Pack

Jonna Petry, wife of a former elder at Mars Hill Church in Seattle, WA, has written a devastating account of her and her husband's experiences at Mark Driscoll's church. Her husband Paul Petry, who served as an elder at Mars Hill before being forced to resign, has shared his personal testimony of his tenure at Mars Hill, along with corroborating documents, in an effort to document what appears to be a form of spiritual abuse at Mars Hill.

At one point in Jonna Petry's testimony, she writes of receiving a carefully worded letter from Mars Hill that appeared to be positioning Mars Hill for a financial settlement with their former elder (Jonna's husband, Paul Petry). Jonna's heartbreak seems apparent in her reaction to this letter:
"It wasn’t a legal settlement we were after. What we so longed for, what we were hoping for, was a demonstration of God’s love and grace. These were pastors right? This was a church, right – not a cutthroat corporation?"
Jonna's account is surprisingly (dare I say, supernaturally?) gracious, given what she and her husband appeared to have suffered through during and even after their tenure at Mars Hill. Jonna closes her testimony with this remarkable paragraph:
"Perhaps at some point, with enough outcry and exposure, Mark will come to his senses, own his harmful behavior, and get the help he needs to change. I hope so. Our common Enemy can make terrible use of our weaknesses and blind spots. Our Lord’s harshest words were for leaders who used their status, power, the Scriptures, and God’s people for their own self-aggrandizement. Surely this is not what Mark meant to do."
You can Jonna Petry's entire account of her time and history at Mars Hill Church here.


 Additional Resources 

Mark Driscoll: A Timeline of His Downfall


Paul Petry, Former Mars Hill Elder, Speaks Out

Freedom For Captives Blog (Blog of Former Mars Hill Elder Bent Meyer)

Another Fired Mars Hill Elder (Bent Meyer) Breaks His Silence

Mark Driscoll: "What do you do with someone who is rebellious, hard-hearted, stiff necked and stupid? You break their nose."

Mark Driscoll's Church Discipline Contract: Looking For True Repentance At Mars Hill Church? Sign On The Dotted Line

Mark Driscoll: The Face of Contemplative Calvinism

Cleaning Up After the Elephants? MacDonald Takes to the Airwaves

Mark Driscoll: "Look, I had this vision. Let me tell you about it."

Mark Driscoll speaking to demons: "I want to know who all is involved here and what we're dealing with."

Paul Petry, Former Mars Hill Elder, Speaks Out

Posted by Christine Pack

A former elder of Mars Hill Church (pastored by Mark Driscoll) has begun a blog testifying to his and his wife's experiences with what appears to have been spiritual abuse, or at least something close to that, at their former church. From former elder Paul Petry's blog Joyful Exiles:
Four and half years ago, I was fired from Mars Hill Church because I refused to resign under pressure. I was a pastor on staff, an elder, and an officer of the corporation along with a group of other men.   I spent months seeking formal reconciliation and years hoping for a better course.   I have not spoken about these matters publicly until now. With the mounting stories and “histories” coming out regarding Mars Hill Church, it no longer seems right or beneficial to remain silent. 
This website serves as a depository, a historical record of the events I and others  experienced at that time - including documents, written correspondence, and personal narrative - with the hope that greater love and reformation will emerge and transcend our weaknesses and failures. 
In addition to the straight history, my wife, Jonna, has written a personal narrative describing these events.  It is an important story and I am thankful she had the courage to write it. Our journey with Mars Hill Church began as a wonderful season God used to grow and strengthen our marriage, our children, and me – then came a very dark time, but by God’s grace, our marriage, our family, our faith (and our noses) remain intact, though forever changed.
Continue reading from the Joyful Exiles blog here.


 Additional Resources 

Mark Driscoll's Church Discipline Contract: Looking For True Repentance At Mars Hill Church? Sign On The Dotted Line

Another Fired Mars Hill Elder (Bent Meyer) Breaks His Silence

Freedom For Captives Blog (Blog of Former Mars Hill Elder Bent Meyer)

Mark Driscoll: "What do you do with someone who is rebellious, hard-hearted, stiff necked and stupid? You break their nose."

Mark Driscoll: The Face of Contemplative Calvinism

Cleaning Up After the Elephants? MacDonald Takes to the Airwaves

Mark Driscoll: "Look, I had this vision. Let me tell you about it."

Mark Driscoll speaking to demons: "I want to know who all is involved here and what we're dealing with."

Marcia Montenegro Discusses "New Thought"

Posted by Christine Pack

Marcia Montenegro
Marcia Montenegro was recently interviewed on Linda Harvey's Mission: America radio show (WRFD-880 AM) on the topic of New Thought. This interview was archived here and will be available for listening/downloading for two weeks. Marcia was a New Ager and licensed professional astrologer before becoming a born again Christian. Marcia has a Masters degree in Religion from Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES) and is now a Christian researcher. She has a strong desire to help her brothers and sisters in Christ become more aware of false teachings (such as those she was saved out of) and how they are infiltrating the church today. Marcia is the author of the book Spellbound and also publishes articles at her website, Christian Answers for the New Age (CANA).

On this program, Marcia explained that New Thought and New Age are two distinct and separate belief systems, but that there is a lot of overlap between New Thought and New Age beliefs. New Thought beliefs, in particular, have become very deeply ingrained in the church, through false teachings about so-called "hidden spiritual laws." If you have ever watched a Word of Faith preacher, what you have observed is a "Christianized" version of New Thought teaching, and the idea that your words create your reality. This is not biblical teaching. God is sovereign over ALL of his creation, and does all that He desires for his own glory and to conform us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29). Our wishes and desires are always secondary to His. God is not a genie in a bottle for us to conjure up, nor is He "go juice" for us to tap into so that our lives work out the way we desire for them to. Although our flesh often rebels at this idea that we don't have active, ongoing control and power over our own lives, we only need to reflect back on our Christian walks and remember times in which we felt so strongly that circumstances ought to work out in a certain way, and yet they didn't...but what God brought instead was infinitely better. In my own Christian walk, I have experienced the most profound closeness and humility in seasons of enormous difficulty. Many times I have thanked God that, in his sovereignty, He put his hand upon my life and brought me not what I thought would be best in that particular situation, but what was ultimately better for my spiritual growth.

 Additional Resources 

A New Mask For An Ancient Secret

The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life Not So Wonderful

An Examination of the Word of Faith Movement

Monday, March 19, 2012

7 Marks Of A Right Heart Before God

(thank you to Renee Heaton, for pointing out this J.C. Ryle sermon)


1) A right heart is a NEW heart (Ezek. 36:26). It is not the heart with which a person is born—but another heart put in them by the Holy Spirit. It is a heart which has new tastes, new joys, new sorrows, new desires, new hopes, new fears, new likes, new dislikes. It has new views about the soul, sin, God, Christ, salvation, the Bible, prayer, heaven, hell, the world, and holiness. It is like a farm with a new and good tenant. “Old things are passed away. Behold all things are become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).

2) A right heart is a BROKEN and CONTRITE heart (Psalm 51:17). It is broken off from pride, self-conceit, and self-righteousness. Its former high thoughts of self are cracked, shattered, and shivered to atoms. It thinks itself guilty, unworthy, and corrupt. Its former stubbornness, heaviness, and insensibility have thawed, disappeared, and passed away. It no longer thinks lightly of offending God. It is tender, sensitive, and jealously fearful of running into sin (2 Kings 22:19). It is humble, lowly, and self-abased, and sees in itself no good thing.

3) A right heart is a heart which BELIEVES on Christ alone for salvation, and in which Christ dwells by faith (Rom. 10:10; Eph. 3:17). It rests all its hopes of pardon and eternal life on Christ’s atonement, Christ’s mediation, and Christ’s intercession. It is sprinkled in Christ’s blood from an evil conscience (Heb. 10:22). It turns to Christ as the compass-needle turns to the north. It looks to Christ for daily peace, mercy, and grace—as the sun-flower looks to the sun. It feeds on Christ for its daily sustenance, as Israel fed on the manna in the wilderness. It sees in Christ a special fitness to supply all its needs and requirements. It leans on Him, hangs on Him, builds on Him, cleaves to Him, as its physician, guardian, husband, and friend.

4) A right heart is a PURIFIED heart (Acts 15:9; Matt. 5:8). It loves holiness, and hates sin. It strives daily to cleanse itself from all filthiness of flesh and spirit (2 Cor. 7:1). It abhors that which is evil, and cleaves to that which is good. It delights in the law of God, and has that law engraved on it, that it may not forget it (Psalm 119:11). It longs to keep the law more perfectly, and takes pleasure in those who love the law. It loves God and people. Its affections are set on things above. It never feels so light and happy as when it is most holy; and it looks forward to heaven with joy, as the place where perfect holiness will at length be attained.

5) A right heart is a PRAYING heart. It has within it “the Spirit of adoption whereby we cry, Abba Father” (Rom. 8:15). Its daily feeling is, “Your face, Lord, will I seek” (Psalm 27:8). It is drawn by an habitual inclination to speak to God about spiritual things—weakly, feebly, and imperfectly perhaps—but speak it must. It finds it necessary to pour out itself before God, as before a friend, and to spread before Him all its needs and desires. It tells Him all its secrets. It keeps back nothing from Him. You might as well try to persuade a person to live without breathing, as to persuade the possessor of a right heart to live without praying.

6) A right heart is a heart that feels CONFLICT within it (Gal. 5:17). It finds within itself two opposing principles contending for the mastery—the flesh lusting against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh. It knows by experience what Paul means when he says, “I see a law in my members warring against the law of my mind” (Rom. 7:23). The wrong heart knows nothing of this strife. The strong man armed keeps the wrong heart as their palace, and their goods are at peace (Luke 11:21). But when the rightful King takes possession of the heart, a struggle begins which never ends until death. The right heart may be known by its warfare, quite as much as by its peace.

7) A right heart is HONEST, UNDIVIDED, and TRUE (Luke 8:15;1 Chron. 12:33; Heb. 10:22). There is nothing about it of falsehood, hypocrisy, or image-acting. It is not double or divided. It really is what it professes to be, feels what it professes to feel, and believes what it professes to believe. Its faith may be feeble. Its obedience may be very imperfect. But one thing will always distinguish the right heart. Its religion will be real, genuine, thorough, and sincere.

Summary:

A heart such as that which I have now described, has always been the possession of all true Christians of every name, nation, people and tongue. They have differed from one another on many subjects—but they have all been of a right heart. Some of them have fallen, for a season, like David and Peter—but their hearts have never entirely departed from the Lord. They have often proved themselves to be men and women laden with infirmities—but their hearts have been right in the sight of God. They have understood one another on earth. They have found that their experience was everywhere one and the same. They will understand each other even better in the world to come. All that have had right hearts upon earth, will find that they have one heart when they enter heaven.

~ J.C. Ryle
Old Paths, “The Heart”, [Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1999], 348-351.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Shepherd's Conference Media Now Available

Posted by Christine Pack



John MacArthur, writer, theologian and pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA, annually hosts an event, known as the Shepherd's Conference, that is dedicated to teaching, edifying and encouraging pastors from around the world. The conference, which has grown each year, drew more than 3,000 pastors at this year's meeting. Keynote speakers included:
John MacArthur 
Phil Johnson (executive director of Grace to You) 
Steve Lawson (pastor of Christ Fellowship Baptist Church in Mobile, AL) 
Al Mohler (president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) 
Voddie Baucham (pastor of Grace Family Baptist Church in Spring, TX) 
Tom Pennington (pastor of Countryside Bible Church in Dallas, TX)
Media for the Shepherd's Conference is now available for download here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Regarding Rick Warren: "Should we believe what a man says, or what he continues to do?"

Posted by Christine Pack

Jihad Turk (L) of the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC) and
Abraham Meulenberg (R) Saddleback Church pastor in charge of interfaith outreach

Mike LeMay, host of the Stand Up For The Truth radio show on Q 90 FM in Title Town, WI, recently aired a program with co-host Amy Spreeman about something known as the King's Way, which is a document co-produced between Rick Warren's church (Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, CA) and the Islamic Center of Southern California (ICSC), with the stated aim of helping to build bridges between Christians and Muslims. At the outset of this program, and after documenting a contradictory pattern between what pastor Warren has said and what he has done, LeMay asked this very provocative question about Rick Warren: "Should we believe what a man says, or what he continues to do?"

This was an outstanding show which can be listened to in its entirety here.


 Additional Resources 

Why is a Saddleback pastor teaching on the Kingdom Circles?

King's Way, Rick Warren Controversy Continues

Are We Witnessing a "King's Way" Cover-up?

Rick Warren Says No King's Way Document and No Saddleback "Staff" Involved

Is King's Way an Interfaith Document or Not? You Be The Judge.

Recent Document Shows Rick Warren's Compromise with Muslims

New Theological Position of Saddleback Church Concerning Islam

Rick Warren Addresses Chrislam Controversy

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Isaiah 12:1-3

Posted by Christine Pack

In that day you will say:
  “I will praise you, LORD.
Although you were angry with me,
  your anger has turned away
  and you have comforted me.
Surely God is my salvation;
  I will trust and not be afraid.
The LORD, the LORD himself,
  is my strength and my defense;
  he has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water
  from the wells of salvation. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Breaking Dawn, The Movie, Part One: Bloodier Than Ever

By Marcia Montenegro (Christian Answers For The New Age)

Thank you to Marcia Montenegro for writing this review of Breaking Dawn, the movie version of one of Stephanie Meyer's books from her enormously popular Twilight series. The reason we are publishing this review on a Christian discernment blog is because many Christian women have become ensnared by these books. We have written a 2 part series, from a Christian perspective, on the Twilight books/movies here and here. Also, please note, there is some graphic content in this review that might be disturbing to some readers.

Note from Marcia Montenegro: This is an overview of the movie with comments, not a review, and not a summary of the plot or characters. 

This movie is part one of the story based on the last book in the Twilight series. Bella, a human, and Edward, a vampire, are to be married, which means at some point she must become a vampire. This is something Bella has wanted for a long time, so she is delighted.

Early in the movie, Edward tells Bella about his past when he decided to give in to his blood lust as a young vampire. However, he killed only murderers, as Bella kindly points out. Edward tries to get Bella to consider changing her mind about becoming a vampire but she is not to be persuaded.

Bella encounters her friend Jacob in the woods right after the wedding. Jacob is a Native American who, along with some others in his tribe, is able to turn into a large wolf.  The wolf creatures are the ancient sworn enemies of the vampires.

Jacob fell hard for Bella after she first came to Forks, and is upset to discover that Bella plans on a “real” honeymoon. To Jacob, this means that Bella will die because Edward is too strong as a vampire to have intimate relations with a human. This danger, and this alone, is the reason that Bella and Edward have abstained from total intimacy throughout the story – not for moral reasons at all, only due to fear that Edward might kill Bella in the act of love (however, Bella tried many times to seduce Edward, and they slept in the same bed). Distraught, Jacob tells Bella she will die.

 THE HONEYMOON 

Bella and Edward arrive at their honeymoon destination. The marriage is consummated that night (brief and not too graphic). The next morning, when Bella awakes, she discovers the room is wrecked (apparently Edward got carried away). Later, Edward discovers bruises on Bella’s body, made by him during the lovemaking. The movie has softened this from the book because in the book, the description depicts more severe bruising than what is shown here.

Still on the honeymoon, Bella realizes she is pregnant and is already showing, which is normally impossible. Edward and his family are alarmed, as a human conceiving a vampire baby is unheard of.

The maid who works at the resort, apparently due to her ethnic background, has special knowledge of local legends of vampires and similar ghouls, so Edward asks for her advice. She touches Bella’s belly and says “Death” (in Portuguese – they are in Brazil).

Upset, Edward promises Bella that Carlisle (the head of Edward’s clan and a medical doctor) “will get that thing out.”

 THE BABY COMETH 

Edward and Bella rush home where the vampire clan is in a tizzy over the pregnancy. The baby is growing at a rapid rate, about nine times faster than in a normal human pregnancy. Most want Bella to let Carlisle abort the baby, but Bella is against this, and has Rosalie on her side. Edward even gets Jacob to try to talk Bella into ending the pregnancy, but Bella refuses. Jacob is so angry about this that when he leaves, he rushes off as a wolf (apparently, you have to run really fast to turn into one, unless attacked by a vampire).

Jacob finds himself at a gathering of other wolf-humans, led by Sam, who are intent on killing the unborn child for fear it will be too strong. There is sort of a wolf pack-think, so the other wolf creatures have picked up on this information about Bella from Jacob’s mind. Jacob defends Bella (of course) and says he will not do it (this is all in wolf-speak but the movie people have kindly translated it for us).

Back at the vampire crib, Edward is scanning pictures of strange hybrid babies on the Internet, and everyone is sitting around looking pained and gloomy.  Meanwhile, Bella is suffering real pain because the baby is crushing her “from the inside out” (said at 1:13:57 in the film – just so you know I really watched it!).

Carlisle gives Bella the bad news: the unborn child is too strong and Bella can’t get the nutrition she needs because the baby is taking all of Bella’s nutrients and still not getting enough. Carlisle fears Bella’s heart will give out before the birth.

All at once, everyone realizes that the unborn baby needs human blood. Carlisle conveniently has some O positive blood (set aside for Bella) which he fetches. Hesitant at first, Bella drinks the blood from a cup through a straw. After the first sip, she announces with blood stained lips, “It tastes good.” (Bella at this point is not a vampire but seems to be getting ready for it superfast). The movie is milder on this scene, because in the book, Bella greedily drinks so much blood that Carlisle must rush off to get more.

 THE BIRTH AND ALMOST DEATH 

Carlisle and Esmee, the heads of the vampire clan, are hunting (animals) in the woods when the baby comes. The birth is a horrific scene with Rosalie going wild over the blood (she wants to drink it), Bella screaming “get him out now,” and Edward working at her with a knife. Bella passes out and soon there is a baby girl.

As soon as the baby is born, covered with blood, Bella’s heart gives out. Edward grabs a huge plunger filled with his venom (a vampire’s saliva –since they are dead, they don’t have regular saliva), shoving it into Bella. He tries CPR but Bella seemingly remains dead. Jacob, who has been present the whole time, runs outside, enraged and grieved.

Edward begins biting Bella all over her body, injecting his venom into her veins to “turn her” so that she will become a vampire. This scene is very graphic and repulsive in the book and has been mercifully shortened for the film.

The news goes out that Bella is dead (though she is really in a deep state of turning into a vampire, which takes 3 days). Jacob returns to the house, intent on killing the newly born girl, whose birth he believes has killed his true love, Bella. As soon as he sees the baby, (held by Rosalie, who apparently has overcome her blood craving problem), however, he “imprints” on her.

“Imprinting” is how the wolf creatures find their mate. It is a special feeling; no choice is involved, it just happens. So now Jacob has imprinted on Bella’s just born baby girl. Thus ends his fiery passionate love for Bella as it shifts to her daughter. This imprinting saves Bella’s baby from the pack because wolf-creatures cannot hurt anyone on whom one of them has imprinted (I found this romantic adult-baby bonding rather repellent).

 ...AND REBIRTH 

While Bella is in the state of turning into a vampire, there is a dream sequence where she sees her human life back to babyhood. As she wakes, she opens her eyes and they are red. Bella is now a vampire, finally achieving one of her fondest desires since she first fell for Edward.

The stage is set for part two, schedule for late 2012.

 REDEEMING POINTS? 

There are no redeeming qualities in this film. The violence, blood and gore, unhealthy romance, constant anger, and obsessive passions distort anything that begins normally into a disturbing and revolting frenzy.

One wonders why Jacob and Edward are so crazy about a sulking self-absorbed girl like Bella, who exhibits few attractive qualities. Jacob broods throughout the entire movie, while Edward smiles wanly only a few brief times.

The only thing left for viewers to look forward to in part two is how Bella will live life as a vampire. This is a rather dark and unappetizing thought to contemplate considering what has been revealed in part one.

Link to CANA review of book, Breaking Dawn

Link to CANA overview of Twilight series


 Additional Resources 

Twilight - Part 1: Emotional Porn

Twilight, Part 2: Satan's Grim Parody of Blood Leading To Eternal Life

Is a Saddleback pastor teaching on the Kingdom Circles?

Article by Amy Spreeman, reprinted in full (Stand Up For The Truth)

With all the buzz about the interfaith aspect of Saddleback Church’s P.E.A.C.E. Plan and the controversy over the King’s Way initiative that partners Rick Warren’s church together with the Islamic community, many question just how Saddleback is reaching Muslims after promising not to convert anyone to Christianity.
Could it be that not converting anyone is one reason Pastor Warren is getting so many questions about Chrislam?
This is a photo of Emmaus Weekend Pentecost, an event held last June 11 and 12 in The Parish of Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic Church in Sophia Antipolis, a town near Nice, France:
In “The Mission” workshop, which was part of an International Ecumenical Fellowship, Saddleback Pastor Abraham Meulenberg and his wife Marieke spoke to a small group of attendees.
If you’ll notice the diagram behind him, the Kingdom Circles are part of the session. Basically, it’s a simple but highly questionable evangelical tool that people are being taught to draw (sometimes called the “napkin drawing”) to demonstrate how those of other faiths can enter the Kingdom of God without converting to Christianity. If you’ve not heard of this, you need to. The video from the Common Path Alliance as well as this article from the Jesus in the Qur’an organization explains it:
The question is, does Meulenberg teach this? Or were those Kingdom Circles diagrams left over from a previous speaker, and Meulenberg taught on a different subject?
Who else teaches the Kingdom Circles methodology? Those who are proponents of “C-5 Contextualization,” a highly controversial movement that many believe is pure syncretism; the blending of two faiths—Islam and Christianity – into Chrislam. Those who are C-5 proponents say that just like Messianic Jews, there can be Messianic Muslims. Never mind that the “Isa” found in the Qur’an is NOT the Jesus of the Bible.  Isa is not the Son of God.
Yet these Isa-worshippers say that they are Christian, and a growing number of Christian leaders are changing their paradigm from No way to Maybe to Sure, why not, in this “global conversation”:
There are many questions about how Christians should be reaching out to Muslims with the truth of the Gospel. If the gospel must be contextualized, how far can contextualization go without violating the gospel? And do the Kingdom Circles do that?
The one answer we can be sure of: There is no hope, no atonement for our sin and no way into the Kingdom of God without Jesus Christ. Christianity is the only faith that worships Jesus as the Son of God. He is our Messiah; our King.
Any movement that tells believers of other faiths and beliefs (Buddhism, Hinduism, New Age, Muslims, etc.), that they can enter the Kingdom of God without converting to Christianity must be questioned.

Related Articles: