Britt Merrick is THE rock star mega-pastor where I live in Ventura County. You can scarcely turn your heard without seeing a vehicle sporting a Reality bumper sticker. In fact, a casual glance at the local freeways or inner-city traffic will typically bear witness to a car driving at excessive speeds, whose driver may or may not be eating, applying make-up, reading the latest Relevant Mag recommended e-book on their iPad and/or shaving WHILST texting, weaving around those annoying drivers observing the speed limit, who may or may not be transporting small children. Anyway, odds are good that this Fast and Furious reject will have one or more Reality stickers affixed to the backside of their vehicle. Anyone who is anyone in Ventura County attends Reality (Carp or Ventura). As a disclaimer, I'll admit up front that I am NOT cool enough to attend Reality, but I digress.
This afternoon I noticed with horror the following tweet from Radicalis:
Britt Merrick's star is certainly on the rise. To be invited to a conference hosted by Rick Warren, the man who claims to have personally fulfilled the great commission through his ministries and church-planting efforts. It must be like kissing the ring of the Pope. The allure of such power is intoxicating. But let us examine just two featured names in this lineup.
The first and foremost is, of course, the aforementioned Rick Warren. Here is a man who claims to have influenced or directly established over 400,000 pastors and churches worldwide. More importantly, and far more grave, is the fact that he is also a man who makes no distinction between a) Jesus Christ - our Lord and Saviour, second Person of the Trinity, revealed in Holy Scripture, creator of the universe, almighty God, and b) Isa, the Jesus revealed in the Quran who was merely a mortal prophet, who pointed the way to Allah, was never crucified but was taken up into Heaven by Allah and will return to accompany the Madhi, the redeemer of Islam. If this is met with a tinge of incredulity, feel free to read more on the topic here, and supporting evidence for Rick Warren's error here.
The second purveyor of nefarious theology I will spotlight here is Dan Kimball. Here is a man who openly promotes a marriage of Christianity and Paganism. If you happen to attend a church that has undergone one or more aesthetic changes over the past few years, for example incorporating various forms of art in or around the sanctuary, well my friend, your church is attempting to create a "Sacred Space", and the person you most likely have to thank is Dan Kimball. One notable passion Mr. Kimball has in common with Rick Warren is the promotion of the eastern mystical practice of Contemplative Prayer, yet the former presents it in such a manner as to strip away any facade of a "Christian" contextualization of this utterly pagan doctrine of demons. Dan Kimball wrote the following after attending the National Pastors Conference in San Diego (the article in its entirety can be found here):
The labyrinth is a maze-like path similar to those designed into the floors of European cathedrals during the Middle Ages. Christians of that time would walk the labyrinth to aid their contemplative prayer and reflection. The labyrinths fell into disuse, and most were eventually forgotten or destroyed.
At the National Pastors Conference in San Diego, however, we found the labyrinth was back and given an update. The path was formed by black lines on a 35-foot square piece of canvas laid on the floor. We each were given a CD player with headphones to guide our journey through the 11 stations on the path. As we began the inward journey—toward the center of the canvas—a gentle female voice with a British accent read a portion of John 1. She told us not to rush through the labyrinth, but to slow down, breathe deeply, and fully focus on God.
At the first stop, we looked at a television screen covered with complex, moving electronic wave forms. We were instructed to pray about and eliminate the noise within that interferes with God's voice. At another station we dropped small stones into water, each stone representing a worry we were giving over to God. Later we drew on paper symbols of our hurts, prayed about each of them, and put them in a trash can.
After thirty minutes we found ourselves at the labyrinth's center, where, seated on cushions, we were offered the elements of Communion. The narrator read more Scripture and reminded us how near Jesus Christ is to us. There was a Bible if we desired to linger, reading and praying.
The journey outward focused on how we can be used by God in other people's lives. At one station we made impressions of our hands and feet in a box of sand, reminding us that we leave impressions on the people we touch.
My wife and I spent an hour in the labyrinth and found ourselves calmed and refreshed, our perspective uniquely restored.
When I first read that account, I could hardly believe it. Not being familiar with Dan Kimball at the time, I assumed he represented some fringe, transparently aberrant offshoot of evangelicalism, distanced from the mainstream. That was before I realized how far and fast this cancer of apostasy has spread through the church. At least I know now why the church I was attending at the time started hanging artwork in the sanctuary, although I'm not sure if they even realize why they were doing it. In fact, I doubt it. As Rick Warren intimated in the following tweet, church growth is paramount, and if other churches are doing it then so should we:
Pastor Merrick, I admonish you in the Lord to give careful consideration to your associations. You know the word, so I'm not bringing anything to your attention with which you are not already intimately familiar when I remind you:
2 Corinthians 6:14 - "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?"
Amos 3:3 - "Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?"
For the sake of friends and neighbors who attend your church, and whose children are influenced by the youth ministries under your leadership, please consider the direction in which you are headed. I pray for discernment, both for you and your flock.