“A Radically Different Kind of Church”
for “the New Age”
“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 shatter … all doctrines, all ideologies … even within the church itself.” (GSR; p. 36; emphasis added)
“Even the Term ‘Christ’ Carries Little Meaning”
The broad way of relativism follows the universal, false “Jesus”/ “Christ” of the counterfeit kingdom. The Lord Jesus Christ is too narrow and authoritative for the broad-minded many who prefer to believe and do what’s right in their own eyes.
“Fewer and fewer people are interested in stories about ‘the Creator God … Such a God is too distant … For Christians, this means the conversation must be about Jesus.…
“One might say that there is a resurgent interest in ‘Christology’ amid the cultural conversation about spirituality and personal change. However, institutional ‘Church Folks’ have difficulty perceiving it, understanding it, or participating in it, because this conversation about Jesus has rejected the accumulated christological terminology of the institutional church. Indeed, even the term ‘Christ’ carries little meaning.” (GSR; p. 38; emphasis added)
“The term ‘Christ’ carries an enormous weight of complex dogma, and invites seekers into an arena of religious disagreement and institutional obligation that is (to them) frightening in its irrelevance. In the same way, terms like ‘Lord,’ ‘Messiah,’ ‘King,’ ‘Son of God,’ and even ‘Savior’ have become so laden with underlying nuances that seekers are too nervous to consider them. The use of such terms requires a greater theological knowledge than most people possess, and a deeper commitment to institutional church tradition than most people want. Such terms have become relics of a Christendom that has passed away.” [!] (GSR; p. 39; parentheses in the original; emphasis added)
“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)
First, although Easum and Bandy repeatedly claim that “the gospel” is all that really matters, they are clearly not referring to the Gospel of Christ! The Word of God, which is absolute truth not metaphor, repeatedly makes it clear how essential these so-called “relics” of “irrelevance” are (e.g., see 1 John 2:22-26; 5:5, 10-12; 2 Peter 2:20-22; John 3:18; Philippians 2:11; and Revelation 17:14; 19:11, 15-16).
“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)
“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:31)
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:9, 13)
“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.” (1 Corinthians 16:22)
“… for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24)
Along with these “relics” of a dead Christendom (!), Easum and Bandy write that the image of “The Ecclesiastical Christ and the Dream of a Doctrinally Consistent Christology” is “disappearing” (pp. 40, 41), and is even “tragic idolatry”!:
“The Christ who would critique every individual’s experience of the Holy, and reign supreme over a consistent orthodoxy of public agreement, has been revealed to be mere heritage at best . . . and tragic idolatry at worst.” (GSR; p. 42; ellipsis dots in the original; bold added)
They prefer to emphasize truth through experience rather than doctrine. In their discussion of the North Americans’ “important discovery about Christian doctrine,” they declare:
“They do not understand it [‘Christian doctrine’]. They do not want to understand it. But most important—and here is the key discovery at the end of the twentieth century—they do not need to understand it!…
“The equation between ‘Truth’ and ‘Doctrinal Competence’ has broken down. ‘Truth’ for the twenty-first century is a power that changes the heart.…
“It means that the experience of grace precedes the understanding of grace, and that integrity of interpretation is no longer measured by continuity with the historical record.” (GSR; p. 41; bold added)
Easum and Bandy then move their discussion to the “disappearing” image of “The Magical Christ and the Dream of Eternal, Personal Safety,” in which they unbelievably refer to the Saviour as a “mere human neurosis”!:
“[T]he promise of eternal, personal security in heaven is also being greeted by growing public indifference.… Our relationships are everything.… The promise of personal, eternal security has become empty, so long as the relationships we cherish cannot be included.…
“The Christ who would guarantee personal security has been revealed to be a mere human neurosis.” (GSR; pp. 42-43; bold added)
In their continued discussion, they distinguish these disappearing understandings of Christ from “authentic faith”:
“In the emerging pre-Christian era, these [‘christological images’] have more to do with ideology and ecclesiology than authentic faith.
“The real, authentic, and vibrant conversation about the fullness of Christ is happening not inside the church, but beyond the church.” (GSR; p. 43)
This “real, authentic” new conversation about Jesus for the new age is not to be about “historical trivialities” (p. 43) but, rather, is to be a new “Christological consensus” regarding Jesus. According to Bandy, “this conversation about Jesus is the experiential glue that holds everything together” in their “reorientation of Christological thinking” (emphasis added).13 True faith is founded in God’s absolute truth, not the vain imaginings and consensus of man’s relativism.
Yet as has already been evidenced, today’s “Christianity” emphasizes relationship over religion (doctrinal/theological beliefs). It prefers the false “gospel” of relativism and its universal “Jesus” who does not require faith in the truth to have a relationship with him:
“It is becoming ever more clear that those churches emerging as ‘Spiritual Redwoods’ in the forest of North American culture emphasize Jesus, and one’s relationship with Jesus, as the fundamental issue of faith and purposeful living. At the same time, however, these churches celebrate enormous diversity of perspective about Jesus, and enormous variety in the manner in which people find themselves ‘in relationship’ with Jesus.” (GSR; p. 50; bold added)
“Jesus is ‘the fullness of God’ in purposeful and timely connection with every creature great or small.…
“Churches that aspire to be Spiritual Redwoods are centered on Jesus, and yet their roots are not entwined around a single rational explanation of the meaning of Jesus. Their root systems span many perspectives, and draw sustenance from many symbols.… The Christology of the church is more ‘collage’ than ‘snapshot,’ because it continually points to a mystery beyond itself.
“The extraordinary combination of the absolute centrality of Jesus, with enormous variety of perspective about Jesus, makes the Spiritual Redwoods of the new age a radically different kind of church.” (GSR; p. 51; emphasis added)
Obviously! This is because their preferred “Jesus” is the radically different “Jesus” of the New Age, which twists and deletes the true Gospel for the sake of all-inclusive unity.
“Finally, the Council of Chalcedon of a.d. 451 sought to end the intolerance and bickering by identifying this single, essential truth:
“that Jesus was at once both fully God and fully Human, and that this unique paradox, irrational though it might be, is the only essential mystery of faith necessary for salvation.
“In a sense, the Council resolved conflict about the person and work of Jesus by declaring that every perspective was both right and wrong. The truth of Jesus could be described with many metaphors, and the benefits of relationship with Jesus could be experienced in many forms …
“The cross and resurrection of Jesus do not necessarily imply any particular theory or explanation of atonement, but simply guarantee that this central mystery of Jesus that was true, also remains true for eternity. Like the branch grafted onto the True Vine, what is crucial is that an individual ‘participate in’ or ‘be in relationship with’ this mysterious Jesus. Spiritual Redwoods of our pre-Christian era are not primarily an ‘Easter People.’ They are primarily a ‘Christmas People’!
“This mystery, this paradox, is all that really matters. Everything else is metaphor. Everything else is valuable perspective, but always discussable, debatable, and changeable. This paradox of incarnation is the thread of continuity between all representations of Jesus … for it is the mystery that lies behind life itself.” (GSR; pp. 52-53; bold added)
“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)
First, to throw out the Crucifixion and Resurrection as “debatable” and “changeable” “metaphor” throws out the Gospel of Christ as “debatable” and “changeable” “metaphor”! This changes the Gospel of absolute truth into a false gospel of relativism. But this does explain why the cross and resurrection are rarely mentioned anymore when “the gospel” or “altar calls” are given today. A relativistic “relationship” is the new message.
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.… For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.… But we preach Christ crucified …” (1 Corinthians 1:18, 21, 23; see also Romans 10:8-9)
Second, there is no thread of continuity that validates all representations of “Jesus”! Jesus is the truth, not relativism!
“Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines.…” (Hebrews 13:8-9)
Third, even the (New Age) New Spirituality believes that its own false “Jesus” was both fully God and fully human; it teaches this about every person! To claim this is the only belief necessary for salvation is to deny the Gospel of Jesus Christ and declares everyone saved who idolatrously believes in any false “Jesus.” Changing the Gospel of Christ to be more inclusive inevitably leads to changing “the Body of Christ” in the same way.
“[C]hurch 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.” (GSR; p. 22; emphasis added)
“That Body of Christ which grows in your immediate environment may not resemble in any detail the Body of Christ which grows in Bill’s environment, or in Tom’s environment.” (GSR; p. 110; emphasis added)
“Spiritual Redwoods do not gather the ‘family’ of God, but rather the ‘peoples’ of God. The Body of Christ is made up of many, many parts.” (GSR; p. 69; emphasis added)
“The Point of Interfaith Conversation Is Not to Decide
Which Religious Propositions Are Right or Wrong”
As the truth of the faith is allowed to crumble away, today’s counterfeit “Christianity” continues to further unveil the relativistic New Spirituality of the universal religion as its new foundation. Unlike the truth, this foundation allows, and even encourages, the pursuit of interfaith unity.
After sharing an illustration of Bandy’s “religious tolerance” toward Islam, they declare:
“It is an illustration of profound interfaith conversation that is in fact encouraged by the central paradox of Christian faith celebrated by Spiritual Redwoods of the new era.
“Only the mysterious paradox of incarnation is essential to Christian faith. All else is metaphor.… The mystery of incarnation inspires a veritable riot of definition, description, and perspective. It proves to be a celebration of diversity in the cultural forest of our times.
“The same mystery that is the thread of continuity between experience and description, also guides the Spiritual Redwood to avoid dogmatism, intolerance, and religious bigotry.…
“The paradox of Jesus as fully God and fully Human is an authentic paradox.… Such a paradox invites diversity—indeed, welcomes diversity!—both within and beyond the church.…
“[R]elationship with Jesus is experiential. The experience of the transforming power of God precedes any rational statement of faith, and acceptance of some stated dogma does not function as a gate through which one must pass to gain access to that grace. Relationship with Jesus is a matter not of intellectual conversion and agreement with correct propositional statements, but of personal transformation and evidence of a change in behavior. Wherever personal transformation occurs, in whatever form and in whatever context, there is an opportunity to discern Jesus. Therefore, the point of interfaith conversation is not to decide which religious propositions are right or wrong, but to build connections between one’s own experience of the divine and the experiences of others.” (GSR; pp. 54-55; bold added)
The emerging counterfeit church clearly prefers the relativism of the broad way over the absolute truth of the narrow way. The scriptural illiteracy among professing Christians is at a dangerous level.
God’s Word makes the essentiality of “conversion” clear (e.g., see Acts 3:19). It even details the character of those who don’t want to be converted:
“For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” (Matthew 13:15)
God’s Word also makes it clear that faith precedes God’s transforming power and grace; it is not the other way around:
“And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power.” (Ephesians 1:19)
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2)
God’s transforming power is ours through the power of the Holy Spirit indwelling believers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Personal transformation or behavioral change that occurs before faith cannot be taken as evidence in itself of a relationship with Jesus.
Despite all the teachings and warnings in God’s Holy Scriptures, scriptural illiteracy continues.
“One does not take direction from Jesus, but one walks with Jesus into the unknown. One does not learn from Jesus, but one grows in Jesus in unexpected ways. Such humility shuns self-righteousness and confrontation …” (GSR; p. 55; emphasis added)
“Spiritual Redwoods of our pre-Christian era can avoid religious bigotry, and build positive interfaith conversation, by relying on the central paradox of Jesus. As long as the absolute centrality of Jesus for the church is a paradox, opportunity for dialogue and mutual respect abounds. Only when the centrality of Jesus for the church ceases to be a paradox, becoming instead a complex, but ultimately understandable certainty, will the specter of religious bigotry become harsh reality.…
“Religion that is founded on dogmatic certainties and reasonable propositions works only when culture is broadly homogeneous. When the forest breaks in upon civilization, and culture becomes a tapestry of race, lifestyle, and perspective, consensus over creeds and catechisms becomes impossible—and undesirable!…
“These vain attempts to police the spiritual lives and theological reflections of others represent the last gasp of Christendom. The global village is not homogeneous.…
“Spiritual Redwoods seeking to represent Jesus in the pre-Christian era … must not ask: How can this church educate the public about Christ? This suggests that the church possesses an understandable truth, to which others can and should be persuaded to give assent … Such a mission invites religious bigotry. Instead, Spiritual Redwoods ask: How can this church live in relationship with Jesus? This celebrates the fact that the church acknowledges a central mystery, which others can and may already experience, the sign of which is renewed hope and personal transformation.” (GSR; pp. 56-57; bold added)
First, being unwilling to “take direction from Jesus” supports their contention that Lord is a “relic” of “irrelevance.” Second, they contend here that representing Jesus excludes educating people about Christ! In other words, obedience to the Lord’s command to preach the Gospel of Christ is to them an unwanted mission that “invites religious bigotry” because it suggests possession of “an understandable truth”! Itching ears have turned everything upside down.
To deny the certainty of God’s Word is to deny that it is the Word of God and the truth. This denial is the opposite of faith and cannot lead to God.
“This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Ephesians 4:17-18; see also Daniel 9:13)
“Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.” (Psalm 119:104)
“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)
“Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge, that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth; that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?” (Proverbs 22:20-21; see also Luke 1:1-4)
Nevertheless, instead of answering the words of truth to people:
“They [‘Spiritual Redwoods’] focus all their energies to respond to the spiritual yearnings of the public:…
“to be free, rather than to be rooted;
“to be mentored, rather than to be lectured;
“to be vindicated, rather than to be corrected;
“to be destined, rather than to be saved.” (GSR; pp. 57-58; emphasis added)
“And yet Christendom is dead.” (GSR; p. 64)
Its demise is no wonder, given that the understandable certainty of God’s Word has been thrown out to cater to the truth-rejecting world that seeks interfaith unity. God warns in his Word that in the last days rebellious mankind will avidly pursue learning, but they will be:
“Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7)
“Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes.” (Psalm 119:155)
“The Most Important Factor Is Vision!”
Man prefers to seek his own vision rather than the knowledge of God and His Word. Consequently, believing and doing what is right in God’s eyes have been replaced with believing and doing what is right in man’s eyes.
“The vision speaks to the heart, rather than to the mind.…
“The vision is true north for the soul. It is a permanent, intuitive compass direction for a human being. Every person inevitably strays from the path. Life is an endless experiment and course correction. The vision brings one back to the true path.” (GSR; p. 117; bold added)
“The most important factor is vision!” (GSR; p. 101)
The vision that man prefers deliberately changes the truth of God into a new ‘reality’—a “paradigm shift”:
“Unfortunately, the church will wither away in the 21st century unless we make three paradigm shifts that abandon the past, and embrace the future. A ‘paradigm’ is like a filter or lens with which you sort out or focus the realities of God and world. A ‘paradigm shift’ happens when you change the filter or lens to sort out the realities of God and world differently.” —Thomas Bandy (Emphasis added)14
In this changed way of thinking, calling for repentance is seen as an “attack.” Thus, according to Bandy, the church “must surrender the old paradigm,” which he criticizes as follows:
• “society is assumed to be a godless morass”
• “only God can do something about it”
• “self-sacrifice and the penitent response of absolute obedience to divine will is their only hope”
• “the whole mission of the church is to attack society with the prophetic call to repent” (Emphasis added)15
According to Bandy, this “old paradigm” is to be replaced with “the paradigm of the 21st century,” which he praises as follows:
• “society is not assumed to be a godless, materialistic morass”
• society is “literally seething with the passionate desire for reunion with God”
• “the spiritual response will no longer be obedience to dogmatic and ideologic agendas, but searching and self-discovery”
• “the context of meaning will no longer be a mix of dogma … but the world itself permeated by God”
• “the mission of the church will no longer be to issue calls to repentance, but to proclaim visions of unity and meaning so rich that they can never be contained in a single symbol”
• “visionary, motivating leadership … will proclaim persuasively and dramatically from the ‘watchtower’ the vision that awaits its time”
• “it will not try to set people straight, but let God set people straight, and accept the resulting diversity”
• “Pastor Bob in the 21st century will be spending most of his time proclaiming the vision, sharing the vision, and building ownership for the vision”
• “he’s spending all his time among the unchurched, learning new futures for the vision” (Emphasis added)16
“‘I try to read everything Tom Bandy writes. He is always thought-provoking and helpful.’” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)17
Remember, in the new paradigm, the vision “is true north for the soul” and “brings one back to the true path.” According to their chosen vision, this makes relativism “true north” and “the true path.” Relativism enables the cultural forest to change the rules of determining Who God is and what His Holy Scriptures say so that it can maintain its chosen course on the broad way. The forest prefers to “find its own way” rather than “learn from Jesus.”
“The ‘forest’ is a metaphor for culture, the public, or people and the environments and yearnings in which they live. This ‘forest’ is incredibly diverse, and growing more diverse every minute. All the rules of the ‘forest’ are changing . . . and they are completely different from the supposed ‘civilization’ of the twentieth-century institutional church.” (GSR; p. 21; ellipsis dots in the original; emphasis added)
“The standards of scriptural interpretation, faith, and behavior can no longer be established by an institution demanding obedience; they can only be discerned and owned by the creatures of the forest themselves.” (GSR; p. 85; emphasis added)
“… every branch, twig, or leaf, and every root, vine, or tendril, is free to find its own way.” (GSR; p. 145; emphasis added)
“Life only thrives when people take risks and celebrate mysteries! Life only thrives when churches embrace change and are willing to let go of control and allow that which is newly born to find its own way!” (GSR; p. 194; emphasis added)
“Spiritual midwives [visionaries, synthesizers, and motivators] … are not afraid to get out of the way of new life, because they are convinced that the fullness of truth lies ever beyond themselves.…
“The spiritual midwife cannot know, and will not control, the future of the mystery that has been born.” (GSR; p. 186; emphasis added)
“Each cell is free to discover God, interpret scriptures, define doctrines, and develop ideas as they wish.… They are free to … participate in any experience that helps them … deepen their faith.” (GSR; pp. 148-149; emphasis added)
“Any profound experience of faith must include:
“a. An experience of the Holy that questions, deepens, changes, and enriches.… It needs to … open one to mystery.… and allow one to interpret for oneself who this God is …” (GSR; p. 150; bold added)
“[S]eekers of the pre-Christian twenty-first century … seek direct connections with God. These direct connections may be established through passive meditation or active social service, through private self-discovery or intimate sharing and corporate celebration. However the connection is made, the immediate experience of God authenticates religious experience by making it highly individual, spontaneous, and creative.” (GSR; pp. 174-175; emphasis added)
First, nowhere in the Holy Scriptures are we told to “connect” with God. This is a pagan concept rooted in panentheism (i.e., “God is in everything”) and attempted through contemplative spirituality. Incidentally, Easum and Bandy refer to the “contemplative movement” as one of “the great spiritual movements” (GSR; p. 196).
Second, when the Word of God is thrown out, each person is left to decide for himself who his god is based on his subjective interpretation of his subjective experience. This is the epitome of mankind’s rebellious pride.
“… behold, ye walk every one after the imagination of his evil heart, that they may not hearken unto me.” (Jeremiah 16:12)
Neither our subjective experiences nor our imaginings determine Who God is. The true God is not relative. No matter how many have joined the “Flat Earth Society,” the earth never has been and never will be flat. Likewise, God always is Who He is regardless of people’s beliefs and experiences. No one can recreate God into Who they prefer Him to be. Those who try are thereby removing themselves from the true God to worship a god of their own making.
Despite their statements regarding the authority of the Bible, relativism continues to be the foundation of this emerging “new species of church.” Under “Core Beliefs” Easum and Bandy reiterate:
“Spiritual Redwoods allow enormous scope for individual interpretations of doctrine, contextual perspectives in theology, and personal definitions of faith.…
“In the end, it is not propositional agreement or dogmatic assent that binds the organism together, but the continuing touch of The Holy that is closely linked to their experience of the core vision.” (GSR; pp. 120-121; emphasis added)
Subjective experience is so crucial to the emerging false church that it is relied on for ultimate acceptance by God, even with these experiences being “irrational” and “positively bizarre!”:
“Not only is the immediate experience of God often unexpected; it may well be positively bizarre! The unusual, the different, the odd, the abnormal, the irrational, and the bizarre all emerge powerfully in the pre-Christian era.” (GSR; p. 196)
“The continuous possibility of ‘being wrong’ that is revealed in radical humility, is countered with a profound trust in the immediate experience of God. That trust is not a certainty about being right, but a confidence about being ultimately accepted by God even when wrong.” (GSR; p. 198; emphasis added)
First, denying the truth of God’s Word is rebellious pride, not “radical humility.” Second, regardless of what a person’s experiences tell them about “who this God is,” anyone who does not have the true doctrine of Christ does not have God and therefore has no chance of “being ultimately accepted by God” (e.g., see 2 John 1:9; 1 John 5:10-12; and John 14:6).
This reliance on one’s own subjectivity is the inevitable result when Lord, Christ, and Saviour are rejected as “relics” of “irrelevance.” Trusting in one’s subjective interpretations of experiences that “may well be positively bizarre” is as foolish as trusting the “lifeblood” of a local church filled with pagans, etcetera, to prevent one’s spiritual life from ceasing to exist! But if people don’t want to be “rooted” in Christ Jesus the Lord (see Colossians 2:6-7) or to even be “saved,” then it most likely wouldn’t matter to them if their experience of “the Holy” is a counterfeit that leaves them with nothing more than mystery.
Contrasting the “Essence” of “Machines” and “Spiritual Redwoods,” Easum and Bandy approvingly acknowledge the following changes in the emerging false church:
• “Historical creeds” have been changed to “Compass Orientation.”
• “Obedience to unintelligible deity” has been changed to “Celebration of mysterious love.”
• “Fear of either-or judgment” has been changed to “Confidence in unity of acceptance and justice.” (GSR; pp. 141-142)
They continue with:
“Ecclesiastical machines leave a community legacy of religious competition … and an adversarial struggle between the sacred and the secular.…
“Ye shall know them by their fruits . . .” (GSR; p. 143; final ellipsis dots in the original; emphasis added)
We shall indeed.
“The distinctions between the ‘sacred’ and the ‘secular’ have disappeared.” (GSR; p. 177; emphasis added)
“Narrow-mindedness and mediocrity are systematically eliminated.” (GSR; p. 149; emphasis added)
“We have set ourselves on a path of continuous learning to sensitively partner with Christian leaders in other cultures, traditions, and disciplines so that together we can walk in the way of Christ.… and we want to help you give birth to the divine potential that is already within you.” —Easum & Bandy’s website (Emphasis added)18
“Have you ever felt as if you were standing at the edge of a wide, deep canyon that seemed too wide to leap across . . . but a still, small voice within you said, ‘Go for it!’? You feel a primal urge to jump. Yet you hesitate, because it’s a long way across and a long way down.…
“There must be something bigger, broader, wider, higher, and deeper in faith and ministry than what you are currently experiencing.
“You know it’s time to take the leap!…
“You are standing at the edge of your future.” (GSR; pp. 210-212; spaced ellipsis dots in the original)
It isn’t the voice of God that is being heeded by the many. The narrow way of the Lord Jesus Christ is too narrow for the broad-minded many who seek Oneness. Consequently, the counterfeit kingdom is growing as more and more people who are lured by the Angel of light’s vision take the leap of departure from the faith and land on his broad way.
“As one emerges into the clearing … one marvels that the redwood has integrated all the diversity of the forest into a single great purpose.…
“This is more than a tree. This is an event in which every creature and organism has been granted asylum in the midst of the forest, and is fed, nurtured, and transformed. One cannot help being challenged and empowered.
“This is a Tree of Life.…
“You are in the midst of a great purpose, a giant synthesis … What does it matter if you fall? There are many branches beneath ready to catch you. The Redwood itself is an assurance that change . . . constant change . . . is good.… You are living a vision!” (GSR; pp. 205-206; spaced ellipsis dots in the original; emphasis added)
“They [‘church leaders’] have been captured by a new . . . and an ancient . . . vision of the Tree of Life.” (GSR; p. 209; ellipsis dots in the original)
The inclusive values and vision of the Angel of light’s counterfeit kingdom have become the boss.
“Synthesis dictates the trend of all the evolutionary processes today; all is working towards larger unified blocs, … brotherhood, … interdependence, fellowship of faiths, movements based upon the welfare of humanity as a whole, and ideological concepts which deal with wholes and which militate against division, separation and isolation.…
“It is the sense of synthesis, putting it very simply, which will be the goal of all the educational movements, once the New Age idealism is firmly established.” —Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul (Emphasis added)19
“[T]he vision is a vision of group work, of group relationships, of group objectives, and of the group fusion to the larger Whole.” —Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul (Emphasis added)20
“… we vision a new and vital world religion, a universal faith, at-one in its basic idealism with the past but different in its mode of expression.” —Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul (Emphasis added)21
“Today men’s minds are recognizing the dawn of freedom; they are realizing that every man should be free to worship God in his own way.… His own God-illumined mind will search for truth and he will interpret it for himself. The day of theology is over …
“Men have gone far today in the rejection of dogmas and doctrine and this is good and right and encouraging.” —Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul (Emphasis added)22
“Either Everything Is Worship—or Nothing Is Worship”
“Her priests have violated my law, and have profaned mine holy things: they have put no difference between the holy and profane, neither have they shewed difference between the unclean and the clean … and I am profaned among them.” (Ezekiel 22:26)
When the world is allowed to interpret for itself who its god is, it naturally follows that it be allowed to use any method it chooses in “worship.” This relativism is all about man, and lines up with the false gospel, “we are all one.” This is the message being spread through the mission and methods of the emerging counterfeit “Christianity”:
“The message of God is clear. No matter what the religion, no matter what the culture, no matter what the spiritual or indigenous tradition, the bottom line is identical: We are all one.” —Neale Donald Walsch (Emphasis added)23
“[W]orship must be indigenous. The gospel must be communicated in the language, cultural forms, and technology of the people you are trying to reach.” (GSR; p. 66; bold added)
“Worship for Spiritual Redwoods designs multiple options of worship to target the tastes, lifestyles, and diverse spiritual needs of the public.” —Thomas Bandy (“Growing Spiritual Redwoods (Summary);” emphasis added)24
True to this Oneness gospel of the (New Age) New Spirituality, Easum and Bandy want indigenous worship to break down the theological barriers between religions:
“Either everything is worship—or nothing is worship.…
“Indigenous music is essential.” (GSR; p. 94; bold added)
“Indigenous worship breaks down stereotypes of theological, ideological, and denominational perspective.…
“Perhaps the most unexpected benefit of indigenous worship, however, is the door of communication that has opened between Spiritual Redwoods and the religious pluralism of the forest. Strip away the religious competitiveness, aesthetic snobbery, and unthinking stereotyping that surrounds worship at the end of the Christendom era, and you will find new friendships and shared ideals.” (GSR; p. 103; emphasis added)
“These first hesitant steps toward indigenous worship aimed at thanksgiving for transformation had … forged a new and continuing conversation between two distant faiths, and brought Christians and Muslims together in prayer for the first time in this community.…
“Indigenous worship can be a gateway into unexpected partnerships.… Who knows where these new conversations will lead? One day God will lead us poor humans to a truer harmony of which our indigenous worship is only a sign.” (GSR; pp. 104-105; emphasis added)
Replacing unity in the faith with interfaith unity is intensifying, as man’s word continues to replace God’s Word as the preferred source of “truth.” In fact, the emerging counterfeit “Christianity” has so transformed its thinking, it even blatantly opposes the truth in its drive for Oneness with the world.
“In the worship of Christendom, what mattered was correct information. People reaffirmed the doctrinally pure or politically correct truths authorized by the denomination.” (GSR; p. 63)
“Spiritual Redwoods cannot be grown from the traditional, informational worship of Christendom.” (GSR; p. 65)
“The worship focus that is increasingly irrelevant … communicates huge amounts of theological information … Such services include:
•traditional hymns with abstract theological words …
•historical or denominational creeds …
•expository preaching designed to provide correct information
•designated children’s messages repeating correct information in simpler language …” (GSR; pp. 79-80; emphasis added)
“Worship designers target peoples . . . not principles. Their goal is not to gather all people within a practical expression of systematic theology, but to convey specific facets of a larger mystery to specific human needs. They are wholly pragmatic. Worship does not need to be proper. It needs to work.” (GSR; p. 68; ellipsis dots in the original; emphasis added)
“Civilized religion has been replaced by the noise of the jungle.… The spoken word has been replaced by interactive drama.… The nice, reverent, orderly, down-home, intergenerational, and carefully contained presentation of the Holy has been replaced by an unsettling, irreverent, unpredictable, out-of-this-world, cross-cultural, and barely contained experience of the Holy.” (GSR; p. 69; bold added)
In this upside-down world, it is the “spiritual giants” who “create an environment of change” and “devote themselves to experiencing God through indigenous worship” (GSR; p. 17). These so-called “spiritual giants” have deliberately replaced doctrine, theology, the spoken word, and the reverent in their preference for secular lyrics and MTV behavior in their “worship”:
“The music is often secular because this generation does not distinguish secular from religious.…
“Kids the world over know Michael Jackson and can sing his songs.” (GSR; p. 75)
“… melody will be more important than lyrics.” (GSR; p. 78)
“The worshipers will choose the music … It is Pentecost! Each person hears his or her choice of music.” [!] (GSR; p. 91; bold added)
“(The best way to determine if your worship is on the experiential track is to videotape your worship service and play it on a VCR side-by-side with a television tuned to MTV. The more similarity there is, the more likely it is that your worship is able to share the gospel with people, especially those born after 1965. Next, count the number of times there is complete silence in your worship for more than five seconds. More than one or two such occurrences mean that the service is not indigenous.)” [!] (GSR; p. 96; emphasis added)
I did not make this up! They even provided a clarification:
“Worship designers use the cultural forms of the people. No single musical taste, dress code, behavioral standard, lifestyle, or sense of propriety is elevated above any other. Use the music to which people really listen, dress the way they dress, dance the way they dance, accept who they are, and do purposely what they already do naturally.” (GSR; p. 67; emphasis added)
In addition, they even declare that “establishing an indigenous worship service is one of the most important decisions a church can make” (GSR; p. 97), and “the only excuse” churches have that do not want “to attempt indigenous worship is that they just do not want to reach emerging generations and subcultures with the gospel” (GSR; p. 102)!
No, it’s because heaven and its saving true Gospel are preferred over hell and its damning false gospels, and being led by and walking after the Spirit are preferred over walking after the flesh and following “visionaries” who have changed the truth of God into a lie!
‘Shining’ the darkness of the world’s ways—and of MTV no less (!)—on the Gospel does not enlighten anyone’s darkness or get anyone to unplug their ears from hearing the truth “lest his deeds should be reproved” (see John 3:20 and also 1 Corinthians 2:14). Regardless of what supposedly does or does not “work” in mankind’s “whole new way of thinking,” we are to shine the light of the Gospel on the world’s ways, not the other way around!
“We must have a new reformation. There must come a violent break with that irresponsible, amusement-mad, paganized pseudo-religion which passes today for the faith of Christ and which is being spread all over the world by unspiritual men employing unscriptural methods to achieve their ends.” —A.W. Tozer25
The wolves are not only prowling around the flock, they have infiltrated the flock in sheep’s clothing, as God’s Holy Scriptures warned they would (e.g., see Matthew 7:15 and Acts 20:29-30). The consequences of Christianity’s “whole new way of thinking and acting” are that people are no longer able to tell the difference between the wolves and the sheep of God, let alone discern the unscriptural and harmful aspects of their teachings.
Growing Spiritual Redwoods is steeped in the teachings of the universal religion and its counterfeits (e.g., “One Truth,” “One God,” and “One Church”). Given that Rick Warren’s Purpose-Driven Paradigm is following the same path, his glowing endorsements are to be expected:
“‘I try to read everything Tom Bandy writes. He is always thought-provoking and helpful.’” —Rick Warren (Emphasis added)26
The Angel of light’s minions have made it clear that his “Plan is synthesis … fusion … unity and at-one-ment,”27 and today’s “Christianity” is becoming increasingly cooperative:
“The Redwood may be described as one great, dynamic ‘synergy’ of life. It is the combined or cooperative action of multiple cells that together increase one another’s effectiveness. It is a whole that is greater than the sum of all its parts, because as a dynamic unity it gives birth to new life.” (GSR; p. 173)
“If the Spiritual Redwood is a synergy of life, then leaders who are spiritual giants must be ‘synergists’ who build synergies for life.
“… spiritual giants who could envision radically new futures, synthesize extraordinarily different cultures and ideas …” (GSR; p. 176; emphasis added)
“Spiritual Redwoods are a different species of church. They are leaving behind … the legacies of Christendom, and creating a fresh synthesis to meet the needs of a new age.” (GSR; p. 209; emphasis added)
The gathering of the many into ONE continues. As mentioned earlier, the counterfeit kingdom’s Plan also includes the “selection process.” It intends to reject, attack, and purge from the planet all so-called “cancer cells” who refuse to become “at-one” with the global community. Far too reminiscent of these New Age goals is the following:
“The machine in the forest is an intrusion. It does not belong. It is irrelevant. The forest relentlessly attacks and rejects them, like foreign bacteria in a living organism.” (GSR; p. 108; emphasis added)
“‘Evangelism’ to these machines means only assimilating the raw material of spiritual seekers into our homogeneous practice and perspective. Culture beyond the church remains an enemy …
“Spiritual Redwoods, emerging to flourish in our pre-Christian era, have a completely different inclination. They are not machines. They are organisms at one with community.” (GSR; p. 127; bold added)
In its drive for Oneness, today’s emerging counterfeit “Christianity” is embracing the (New Age) New Spirituality of the broad way.
Return to Chapter 21 Proceed to Chapter 23
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.
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.
13. “Growing Spiritual Redwoods (Summary)” by Thomas G. Bandy, http://www.easumbandy.com/resources/index.php?action=details&record=1074.
14. “Obstacles and Opportunities for Congregational Mission in the 21st Century” by Thomas G. Bandy, Free Resources, Easum, Bandy, and Associates, http://www.easumbandy.com/resources/index.php?action=details&record=1073.
17. As quoted in “What Christian leaders have to say about Tom Bandy,” http://www.easumbandy.com/tomBandyB.html.
18. “Dedicated. Motivated. Determined.” About Us, Easum, Bandy, and Associates, http://www.easumbandy.com/about.html.
19. Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul, The Rays and the Initiations, Part One - Fourteen Rules for Group Initiation, http://laluni.helloyou.ws/netnews/bk/rays/rays1042.html.
20. Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul, The Externalization of the Hierarchy, Section II - The General World Picture, http://laluni.helloyou.ws/netnews/bk/externalisation/exte1040.html.
21. Ibid., Section III - Forces behind the Evolutionary Process, http://laluni.helloyou.ws/netnews/bk/externalisation/exte1178.html.
22. Alice Bailey & Djwhal Khul, Problems of Humanity, Chapter V - The Problem of the Churches, http://laluni.helloyou.ws/netnews/bk/problems/prob1052.html.
23. Neale Donald Walsch, in his essay in From the Ashes, Beliefnet Editors, p. 19.
24. “Growing Spiritual Redwoods (Summary)” by Thomas G. Bandy, http://www.easumbandy.com/resources/index.php?action=details&record=1074.
25. Tozer on Worship and Entertainment, A.W. Tozer, Selected Excerpts Compiled by James L. Snyder, p. 155.
26. As quoted in “What Christian leaders have to say about Tom Bandy,” http://www.easumbandy.com/tomBandyB.html.
27. Alice Bailey, From Bethlehem to Calvary, Chapter Two - The First Initiation, The Birth at Bethlehem, http://laluni.helloyou.ws/netnews/bk/bethlehem/beth1022.html.
Copyright © 2006 Tamara Hartzell. All rights reserved.