Fraternity Over Orthodoxy

After I spoke at a church this past weekend, I was asked, “How is it that so many celebrity preachers, celebrity Christian authors, and celebrity pastors take the stage with known (and popular) false teachers?” There are, of course, many possible reasons. It could be they seek to maintain or add to their own personal popularity. It may boost their ego to speak to large crowds of 25-50,000, or it may boost their personal wealth … Continue reading

Minimizing God

Could it be that many who like to claim Christianity as their faith can only do so by minimizing God? In Christianity& Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen, Machen spends a fair amount of time addressing how liberal theologians in his day, who were “in search of the historical Jesus,” claimed to believe that Jesus is God – but only after they had refashioned Jesus to look more or less like themselves. He makes an intriguing … Continue reading

Thomas Merton: The Contemplative Dark Thread

(Originally printed in the Fall 2006 Issue of the MCOI Journal page 8) Twenty-some years ago, my sister Janet and I signed up for a field trip sponsored by the Crystal Cathedral to a Vedanta monastery in the nearby Saddleback Mountains. At that time, we were working together on a discernment newsletter called The New Age Alert and attended as part of our research. The field trip was being promoted as an educational adventure to … Continue reading

Spirit in the Sky

On the way back from speaking at Wheatland Congregational Church in Wheatland, Michigan, the 1969 Norman Greenbaum song, “Spirit in the Sky,” kept popping into my head. As it happens, my friend Fred Slagle (who is the pastor of Wheatland) and I have similar personalities and share some common experiences. We are both part of the cry-baby boomer generation; we were not believers until we were married adults with children; and we both loved  … Continue reading

Combatting Christian Occultism Part 2

(Originally printed in the Summer 2005 Issue of the MCOI Journal Beginning on page 6) Part 2 in a 2-Part Look at Occultic-like Beliefs and Practices in the Church By John Ferrer Introduction In the last Journal article “Occultism in the Church” (Part-1),1 we surveyed what the occult is: how it represents a certain world view geared toward secret knowledge or power and being typically characterized by certain categories of practice. These practices include fortune … Continue reading

Contemplating Contemplative Prayer: Is It Really Prayer?

(Originally printed in the Winter 2005 Issue of the MCOI Journal beginning on page 10) “God’s first language is silence.”1 “Progress in intimacy with God means progress toward silence.”2 “The important thing is that we are relaxed and our back is straight so that the vitalizing energies can flow freely.”3 Contemplation is “a pure and a virginal knowledge, poor in concepts, poorer still in reasoning, but able, by its very poverty and purity, to follow … Continue reading