Monday, August 21, 2006

"A Whole New Species of Church Is Emerging"

The following post is an excerpt from Chapter 22 of In the Name of Purpose: Sacrificing Truth on the Altar of Unity by Tamara Hartzell. This new on-line book is a comprehensive and in-depth look at the nature of the purpose-driven movement. Chapter 22 is entitled "A Radically Different Kind of Church" for "the New Age." Today's excerpted section begins this chapter, subtitled: “A Whole New Species of Church Is Emerging.”

There is a “Christian” book that epitomizes the current path of the counterfeit Christianity, which is emerging as the old faith crumbles away. Although there are many such books published now, Growing Spiritual Redwoods by William Easum and Thomas Bandy1 provides a clear illustration of the “new way of thinking,” and has been acclaimed as “perhaps the best book about church transformation in this century.”2

Bill Easum is “one of the pioneering pastors of the church growth movement,” and is “one of the most highly respected church consultants and Christian futurists in North America.”3 Tom Bandy “consults with congregations for church growth and transformation,” and “congregational and denominational leaders regard Tom as one of the leading thinkers and writers today.”4 The two joined forces to form Easum, Bandy and Associates, which consults “with churches of every size and culture” and links “countless” leaders through “one of the largest religious interactive websites in North America.”5

In spite of the blatant (New Age) New Spirituality in their book, Growing Spiritual Redwoods has received high praises by men who are popular leaders themselves in today’s Christianity. Rick Warren, Lyle Schaller, and Leonard Sweet (whose own books are self-evident that he has fallen for the (New Age) New Spirituality6) have given this book the following endorsements:

“This may be the most significant study book for congregational leaders published in this century.” —Lyle Schaller (Growing Spiritual Redwoods – GSR; front cover)

“An epoch-marking—if not epoch-making—book. For a church living off of checks that reality won’t cash, this book is like an acid bath accounting from the bank examiners. There is no better audit of the collapse of the Christendom era, and no better audition for how to do ministry in the new world, than this one.” —Leonard Sweet (GSR; back cover)


Every passage of this book contains spiritual nuggets of truth that can help your church to grow healthy and strong.” —Rick Warren (GSR; back cover; emphasis added)

In addition to this glowing endorsement, after he wrote The Purpose Driven Life, Growing Spiritual Redwoods was given five stars in one of Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox™ newsletters for 2003.7 And on Easum and Bandy’s website under, “What Christian leaders have to say about Tom Bandy,” the following praise by Rick Warren is still posted (more praise by Leonard Sweet and also by Brian McLaren is included there as well):

“‘I try to read everything Tom Bandy writes. He is always thought-provoking and helpful.’” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)8

According to Tom Bandy, “a whole new species of church is emerging.” This emerging church is “not a machine”—“preoccupied with theological purity, ideological correctness, and behavioral conformity”—but “an organism.” This “organism” “worships differently, thinks differently, and depends on an entirely different kind of leadership.”9 This “new species of church” is the “Spiritual Redwood” growing in the midst of the diverse, cultural “forest” (GSR; p. 21).

“Some call it a ‘permission-giving’, ‘seeker sensitive’, ‘mall’, or ‘mega’ church, but it is in reality a ‘Tree of Life’ for the spiritually yearning public of the post-Christendom period.…

“They are churches designed to grow in a riot of diversity, rather than in repetitive sameness of polity or doctrine. They are designed to grow in constant, creative chaos …” —Thomas Bandy (“Growing Spiritual Redwoods (Summary)”)
10

“Just finding your way through the forest, in order to discover the Spiritual Redwoods, can be a challenging prospect. Yet church leaders and spiritual seekers are setting out as never before to explore new territory, and grow a twenty-first-century version of the ‘Body of Christ.’ Before you even start, you need to equip yourself with a different map.…

“In Sacred Cows Make Gourmet Burgers, Bill [Easum] began to explore the ‘coastline’ of this new age by describing the ‘quantum world.’ It is a world of fluid processes and changing relationships, rather than fixed forms and enduring structures. In Kicking Habits: Welcome Relief for Addicted Churches, Tom [Bandy] began to explore the ‘coastline’ of this new age by describing systems of constant change, surrounded by energy fields of core visions, values, and beliefs. Together we have been further inspired by George Hunter’s description of the new age as a ‘pre-Christian’ world of religious and cultural ferment, and deep and diverse spiritual yearning.” (GSR; p. 22; bold added)

No doubt this would adamantly be denied, but Easum and Bandy’s various descriptions of this “new age” have remarkable similarities to the New Spirituality of the New Age. The following pages of nuggets from their teachings in Growing Spiritual Redwoods speak clearly for themselves in this regard.

Their highly acclaimed book includes the following changes taking place “that are changing the map for Christians”—

• from “Ultimate Truths” to “Dialogical Truths;”
• from “Either-Or Choices” to “Both-And Choices;”
• from “Male vs. Female Genders” to “Unique Personhoods;”
• from “Formal Boundaries” to “Changing Patterns;”
• from “Religion” to “Spirituality;”
• from “Prophetic Confrontation” to “Visionary Direction;”
• from “Authoritative Voices” to “Spiritual Coaches;”
• from “Guardians of Truth” to “Motivators for Mission.” (GSR; pp. 23-24)

This new post-truth age has been embraced by those who welcome the demise of traditional Christianity. Their “changing patterns” have abandoned the “formal boundaries” of God’s truth to explore man’s “visionary direction” for attempting to unite both God and the broad way.

Although religion (theology/doctrine) divides, God and spirituality are viewed as universal and uniting. And this “spirituality” that people want to talk about in the emerging “new species of church” is no different than the “new religion” (faith) that the Angel of light and his fallen minions have been working toward:

“… people do not want to talk about religion; they do want to talk about spirituality!… The religion ‘Church Folks’ want to discuss is a body of correct information and acceptable behavior with which they want others to agree and conform. The ‘spirituality’ about which people want to talk is an attitude or orientation to daily living, and perspective from anyone is equally welcome.” (GSR; p. 37; bold added)

The new religion is on the way, and it is one for which all previous religions have prepared us. It differs only in that it will no longer be distinguished by dogmas and doctrines, but it will be essentially an attitude of mind, an orientation to life, to man and to God. It will also be a living service.… Individualism and separatedness will disappear as that kingdom comes into being. The collective consciousness is its major expression and quality.… This is the challenge which today confronts the Christian Church. The need is for vision, wisdom and that wide tolerance which will see divinity on every hand and recognize the Christ in every human being.” —Alice Bailey (Emphasis added)11

“They [Spiritual Redwoods] empower people … to find their own incarnation of Jesus in the lives of people who have not yet experienced the gospel.” (GSR; p. 209; emphasis added)

This inclusive New Spirituality/new religion has been further described by Neale Donald Walsch’s “God”:

“[A]ll people do not hold the same religious beliefs. And, in fact, not all people even participate in religion or church, in any form.

“Spirituality, on the other hand, is universal. All people participate in it. All people agree with it.…

“This is because ‘spirituality’ is nothing more than life itself, as it is.…

“The only discussion left then is whether life and God are the same things. And I tell you, they are.” (Emphasis added)
12

This (New Age) New Spirituality, common to both the counterfeit kingdom and the emerging false church, is all-inclusive and presents Jesus as a way of relativism.

“… culture itself, in all its complexities and nuances, can become a vehicle for eternal truth.” (GSR; pp. 199-200; emphasis added)

Anyone and anything can be a vehicle for the expression of God—but never contain the fullness of God. Therefore, the church recognizes that God will simultaneously employ and shatterall doctrines, all ideologies … even within the church itself.” (GSR; p. 36; emphasis added)

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To continue reading this fascinating chapter, which investigates the authors' claims that the Crucifixion and Resurrection are "debatable" and "changeable" and "metaphor," go to http://inthenameofpurpose.org/chp22.htm. In the Name of Purpose: Sacrificing Truth on the Altar of Unity is a free e-book. Click here to open the e-book in a PDF file.

The Truth:

"And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.” (1 John 4:14-15)

Endnotes:
1. William M. Easum and Thomas G. Bandy, Growing Spiritual Redwoods (Nashville, Tennessee: Abingdon Press, 1997).
2. Lyle Schaller, as quoted on About Us, EBA Origins, Easum, Bandy and Associates, http://www.easumbandy.com/aboutEBA/origins.html.
3. Ibid., and also About Us, EBA Team, Bill Easum, Easum, Bandy and Associates, http://www.easumbandy.com/aboutEBA/team.html?b=Bill%20Easum.
4. About Us, EBA Team, Tom Bandy, http://www.easumbandy.com/aboutEBA/team.html?b=Tom%20Bandy.
5. About Us, EBA Origins, http://www.easumbandy.com/aboutEBA/origins.html.
6. For information on Leonard Sweet and the (New Age) New Spirituality, see http://www.crossroad.to/Quotes/Church/post-modern/leonard-sweet.htm; http://herescope.blogspot.com/; http://www.sliceoflaodicea.com; and http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/leonardsweet.htm.
7. Book Look, Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox™, Issue #83, 1/1/2003, http://www.pastors.com/RWMT/?ID=83.
8. As quoted in “What Christian leaders have to say about Tom Bandy,” About Us, Easum, Bandy, and Associates, http://www.easumbandy.com/tomBandyB.html.
9. “Growing Spiritual Redwoods (Summary)” by Thomas G. Bandy, Free Resources, Easum, Bandy, and Associates, http://www.easumbandy.com/resources/index.php?action=details&record=1074.
10. Ibid.
11. Alice Bailey, From Bethlehem to Calvary, Chapter Seven - Our Immediate Goal, The Founding of the Kingdom, http://laluni.helloyou.ws/netnews/bk/bethlehem/beth1081.html.
12. Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship with God: an uncommon dialogue, (New York, New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1999), pp. 376-377.