Will Brian Houston be influenced by Bill Hybel’s Willow Creek mystic practices?

When you have movements like Brian Houston’s Hillsong, Phil Pringle’s C3, Kong Hee’s City Harvest Church, Bill Hybel’s Willow Creek and Rick Warren’s Saddleback attacking traditional Christianity and blaming them for the church for not growing, not being effective or successful, the inevitable happens: their pragmatism leads to paganism. They want results. Leadership wants to look good to leadership. We have seen each one of these “churches” continually redefine the body of Christ on their terms and disregard biblical methods and practices in the name of ‘relevance’.

For instance, the leaders of these movements do not often use traditional and orthodox biblical translations. Instead they promote the New Age bible, ‘The Message’.

Now Bill Hybel’s Willow Creek has opened the door to the demonic with its leaders embracing and practicing New Age and pagan mysticism in the name of Jesus.Brian-Houston-Head

Brian Houston recently attended Bill Hybel’s Leadership Summit at Willow Creek (and we believe Houston is too theologically incompetent to discern what was being peddled there. We’re talking about Houston who didn’t know what modalism is and declared it’s not even in a dictionary.)  Aaron Niequist made this comment about the Leadership Summit:
“Honestly without Vijay’s talk at the Summit, the Practice experiment could not have happened, because it gave us the language to navigate and frame what we needed to do.

We’ve already heard gay-affirming messages in Hillsong influencing their music and pagan/liberal themes. We are expecting in a short while more paganism to influence Hillsong’s music.

But we stress again, when Christianity does not deal with the cults, cults will deal with Christianity.

Berean Research writes,

Willow Creek’s “The Practice” blends New Age & Catholic mysticism

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 2.28.01 PM

“A Catholic priest and a New Ager walk into Willow Creek…..”

No, it’s not a joke waiting for a punchline. It’s an experiment called The Practice, and it’s the brainchild of Pastor Bill Hybels’ son-in-law, Aaron Niequist. Niequist is also the Worship Pastor at Willow Creek Community Church, and he calls a Jesuit priest his spiritual director.

Be warned; you are about to hear a lot of New Age lingo:

The Practice is an experimental gathering where we immerse ourselves in God’s dream for humanity, practice the historic disciplines that align us with His dream, and carry each other along the way.  PracticeTribe.com

Starting this Sunday, Niequist will teach you about “unforced rhythms of grace,” in which you will learn to align your rhythm with God’s rhythm, practice contemplative prayer methods like Lectio Divina, and learn from a Catholic priest.

The Practice has been a Sunday night ritual at Willow Creek church since 2013, after that summer’s Global Leadership Summit invited Vijay Govindarajan, Professor of International Business and the Founding Director of Tuck’s Center for Global Leadership, to speak about about innovation:

Niequist: Honestly without Vijay’s talk at the Summit, the Practice experiment could not have happened, because it gave us the language to navigate and frame what we needed to do. He spoke about his book, Beyond the Idea, and his three-box strategy. Basically, every organization, he said, has three boxes. Box One is about managing the present. It’s everything the organization is doing to maintain itself. Box Two is about making minor improvements to make Box One even better. But Box Three is about creating the future. It’s all about innovation. source

Note that Niequist does not mention Jesus Christ, the cross, sanctification or any other biblical doctrine as reasons to start The Practice. Just boxes and business management.

This season’s direction for The Practice:

RHYTHM: Learning to align our rhythms with God’s Eternal Rhythms, for the sake of the world.

Where does this idea of “unforced rhythms of grace” come from? Only one place: The Message, quoted extensively by Niequist:

Matthew 11:28-30 The Message (MSG)

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Does that sound strange? Try a word-for-word translation like the English Standard Version:

28 Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

(Side note: Rick Warren also blogged last spring that Jesus Teaches Unforced Rhythms of Grace.)

Here then, are the four ways Niequist is leading Willow Creekers in a new rhythmic realignment with God through The Practice:

(1) Present Moment Rhythm – practicing the Presence of Christ
Already I need to insert this:  On 9/20, Niequist has invited New Ager Ruth Haley Barton to teach Sacred Rhythms.(2) Daily Rhythm – practice the Daily Examen
(3) Weekly Rhythm – keeping The Sabbath
(4) Yearly Rhythm – aligning with the Church Calendar

What church calendar?  Here is The Practice Calendar, in which you are invited to deep dive into a self-assessment of your own rhythms. Next month, you’ll learn the three foundational practices for a life aligned with God: SILENCE, EMBODIED EXAMEN, and SABBATH.

“Silence helps us hear God’s still small voice and align with God in each moment of our day.  The Examen helps us look back upon each day and find God’s fingerprints in the most unlikely places.  Sabbath helps us reorder our days into the rhythm God established in Creation: 6 on and 1 off,” Niequist says.

And then, the church calendar: “In December, we will align with the church calendar and celebrate the season of ADVENT… and also helpful to give a vision for why the church calendar is so helpful.”  source

Could it be that Niequist means the Roman Catholic calendar?

Eucharist and priestly preachings

During the “Examen” phase, a distinctly Catholic element comes into play, with the introduction of Father Michael Sparough, a Jesuit priest who guided The Practice community through the Catholic practice of The Examen.

Last April, my spiritual director—Father Michael Sparough, SJ—guided our Practice community through the historic Christian practice of The Examen. The night was powerful and so unexplainably holy that we wanted to invite more people into the experience. So we’ve turned the live recording of Fr Michael into a full New Liturgy—fleshing it out with an evocative musical score and three original songs. We hope it helps you connect with God in a deep and daily way.”

You can read more about Sparough here. Here is the promo for Examen:

It’s interesting to note that The Practice openly promotes building a bridge between Protestants and Catholics through Ecumenicism, “the idea that unity among the whole church is central to spreading Christ’s kingdom to the ends of the earth.”

Here’s a sample of what you’ll learn during the Examan phase including this digital toolkit:

  • Audio: The Cross Meditation – a ten minute guided meditation on the Sign of the Cross.
  • Teaching: St Ignatius and The Examen – Fr Michael Sparough teaches on the history of The Examen.
  • Teaching: The Five Steps of The Examen – Fr Michael Sparough teaches through the steps of The Examen.
  • Video: A conversation with Fr Michael Sparough and Aaron Niequist about The Examen, spiritual direction, and learning from other Christian traditions.

Spiritual Formation

It would appear that the entire purpose of The Practice is to practice Spiritual Formation and all of its contemplative components, like Lectio Divina, a centuries-old mystical Catholic practice involving repeating a word or phrase from the Bible over and over until you reach a higher level of consciousness to “hear God speak” to you:

I think that lectio divina has connected most deeply with our community. This “divine reading” of the Scriptures has become such a powerful supplement to a more analytical/study/expository approach to the Bible.   source

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 2.06.30 PMWho is Aaron?

Aaron Niequist is a singer and author, who married Bill and Lyn Hybels’ daughter, author Shauna Niequist, who frequently speaks at women’s retreats and conferences. The couple worked for Rob Bell’s Mars Hill church in Michigan, Aaron as his worship music leader, and Shauna as his media relations (PR) guru.

Before The Practice, Aaron’s A New Liturgy project did musically what The Practice is doing …liturgically?

On his blog, Niequist also promotes the idea of “Mother God,” along with his dear friends Rob Bell and Michael Gungor:

Screen Shot 2015-09-09 at 1.53.27 PM

But there is good news:

You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.   2 Peter 3:17-18

Questions about any of the New Age terms you’ve read here?  Be sure to study our White Papers for extensive research on New Age,  Spiritual Formation,  Catholicism (RCC),  Contemplative Prayer, and the Emergent Church.

(Hat Tip to Robin Steen)

Source: Amy Spreeman, Willow Creek’s “The Practice” blends New Age & Catholic mysticism, Published 09/09/2015.

Aaron Niequist writes,

This Fall at The Practice

After a month of listening and communal discernment (June), a staff retreat (July), and a series of incredibly helpful conversations with many of you in the community (August), we are thrilled to share the direction for this year at The Practice…

RHYTHM: Learning to align our rhythms with God’s Eternal Rhythms, for the sake of the world.

The Creator of the Universe has hard-wired certain rhythms into all of Creation: Six on and one off…inward reflection and outward mission…solitude and community…humble listening and courageous risk…withdrawing and engaging…etc.  And Jesus invites us to align our entire lives to these deep rhythms. He calls out to every one of us: “Come to me. Walk with me and work with me, watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of Grace.” (Matt 11)

Like a musician listening for the groove so we can play along.
Like an athlete learning to hear the coach’s voice so we can join the game.
Like a child falling asleep in his mother’s arms, allowing our hearts to sync as one.
Like a disciple, keeping in step with her teacher, breaking ourselves open for the world God desperately loves.

And so this fall, we want to learn how to align with God in four ways…
(1) Present Moment Rhythm – practicing the Presence of Christ
(2) Daily Rhythm – practice the Daily Examen
(3) Weekly Rhythm – keeping The Sabbath
(4) Yearly Rhythm – aligning with the Church Calendar

———

Fall 2015

The month of September will be the VISION and INVITATION to align our lives with God’s eternal rhythms, and a tangible way to help us SELF-ASSESS our current rhythms.  In many ways, the first two weeks will frame the entire journey, so please dive in deeply with us.

October and November will lead us into three foundational practices for a life aligned with God: SILENCE, EMBODIED EXAMEN, and SABBATH. Silence helps us hear God’s still small voice and align with God in each moment of our day.  The Examen helps us look back upon each day and find God’s fingerprints in the most unlikely places.  Sabbath helps us reorder our days into the rhythm God established in Creation: 6 on and 1 off.

In December, we will align with the church calendar and celebrate the season of ADVENT.  This will be a very worshipful month as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ, and also helpful to give a vision for why the church calendar is so helpful.

And as you can see, we’re thrilled to include three Sundays of “Community Listening” this fall:  Oct 11th, Nov 22nd, and Dec 20th. On each one of these nights, we’ll rearrange the chairs into smaller circles and practice communal listening together.  Our desire is that these gatherings will (1) Help us to process the journey and carry each other along the way, and (2) Teach us the skills to create transformational community in our relationships, small groups, and whole lives.  These nights are really important, and we can’t wait to see how God uses them to form us!

———

The journey begins this Sunday, September 13th, 6pm, in the Willow Creek chapel.

———

Friend, the invitation of Christ is LIFE to the full. It’s not easy or without heartbreak, of course, but it is the Way of deep peace, connection, healing, rest, and true freedom. And you are being invited.

If The Practice can help you “say YES” this fall, please join us.  We’re all in this together.

Grace and peace,
Aaron and The Practice Team

Source: Aaron Niequist, This Fall at The Practice, The Practice, http://www.practicetribe.com/this-fall-at-the-practice-2/, Published 08/09/2015. (Accessed 14/09/2015.)

One comment

  1. Truth2Freedom

    Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: