September 13, 2010

Is Liberty University really orthodox?

Liberty has a tendency to pull down links when they get criticized for anything. Well, hopefully that won't happen here.

From Liberty University Graduate Senate Bill proposing changes to the course catalog in 2008: (so far this hasn't been listed in the current catalogs. They still do have their emphases in various places on "strategic prayer" and "spiritual disciplines" and "spiritual formation" (they actually have a course entitled "spiritual formation" as well. PLED 520 "This course focuses on the development of the spiritual life in ministry. Attention is given to the spiritual disciplines, the prayer life, and the biblical nature of calling, ministry and character."

Back to the Graduate Senate Bill:

COUN 763 Prayer, Meditation, & Spiritual Direction in Therapy: This course examines historical and contemporary applications of the spiritual disciplines within a counseling context. Sample interventions examined include contemplative prayer, Scriptural mediation strategies, inner healing prayer, and teaching spiritual concepts. The role of the demonic in psychopathology will be considered. (3 hours) [Dr. Garzon, Dr. Hawkins, Dr. Jenkins, Dr. Hinson]

There's plenty more where that comes from. There's one teacher especially this Garzon who has written quite a few papers that praise these contemplative practices. The originator of the proposal was one John C Thomas, PhD. If I had a prof or anyone proposing adding these courses that are pro-contemplative, a Christian university should be getting him out of there posthaste, at least as fast as they demoted/dismissed Ergun Caner.

however
you will read in the May 2, 2008 minutes, on page 50 of the above linked document:
IV. New Business
A. Bill 070822 (presented by Victor Hinson) to modify existing MA in Professional Counseling was approved.
B. Bill 070823 (presented by John Thomas) to add a Graduate Certificate in Christian Integration and Counseling was approved.


I don't see it in the course catalogs yet though...

search on google with these terms:
contemplative site:liberty.edu
and
disciplines site:liberty.edu
and
"purpose driven" site:liberty.edu
and
"spiritual disciplines" site:liberty.edu

(keeping "purpose driven" and "spiritual disciplines" in quotes will give you that phrase, otherwise you will get a lot more extraneous results.)

I did find ONE paper written that said contemplative prayer is just eastern mysticism in disguise.

Lighthouse Trails (who I also have some secondary issues with) has an article with some info worth checking into. The links within the article are no longer valid, because they link to items that moved or linked to search results that don't seem to work, or the people just pulled them down because they didn't want to be discredited. But with a little searching you can I did find that they are still using Doug Fields's book. But even if you can't find the original sources for the Lighthouse Trails article, the google searches above are enough to at least raise some HUGE red flags and warrant further examination.
Liberty University Uses Contemplative/Emergent Textbooks
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletter021307.htm#article2

and
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?tag=liberty-university

This one looked interesting
http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1284&context=doctoral

"This thesis has three primary goals: (l) an evaluation of the problem leading up to
the construction o f a spiritual disciplines-based discipleship curriculum; (2) the formulation of a ten-week discipleship curriculum; (3) an evaluation of the curriculum by means of a diagnostic instmment. The first goal is accomplished primarily in this introductory chapter. The statement ofthe problem section explains the need for a spiritual disciplines curriculum and the lack of such a curriculum. The theological reflection and literature review sections discuss the theological background and relevant contemporary literature that pertain to the problem. The statement oflimitations defines the parameters of the project.

Why are these doctoral students thinking these are good sound Biblical ideas for a Christian Doctoral thesis? Hasn't that lie been weeded out by the time they've gotten this far at Liberty? If not, there is a problem.

I had just been listening to some old Wretched podcasts and heard Todd Friel insist that Liberty was "most certainly orthodox." Even in light of the Glenn Beck speaking there and receiving an honorary doctorate from them. He admitted during the course of this response that he wasn't all that familiar with Liberty.

This was on 7-13 hour 2, 26:18 into the podcast. The beeptalk comment/question went like this:
"Liberty University... isn't that the institute of higher education that recently gave an honorary doctorate to a Mormon, and we're worried about how they're handling this recent situation? Perhaps we should scrutinize Liberty University and encourage them to get back to their orthodox roots."

Todd gave some minor disagreement with the Glenn Beck involvement. It was a 'bad idea' and Christians can disagree on this one. But regarding Caner, he tried to make the analogy to how we would feel if for example someone we were 'fond of' like, say, Phil Johnson, was caught lying and only got demoted. Well frankly I'd be just as upset, Mr Friel! Perhaps even more because of my fondness. That's exactly why I was so upset at John Piper when he pronounced Rick Warren orthodox, biblical, and sound. However, fondness in and of itself really has only a little to do with it. I think Todd had the cart before the horse here. Personally, the very reason I am fond of those guys and respect these guys because they don't tend to pull stunts like this. While I may have our disagreements with them, they are not even close to the same level as what is going on at Liberty. At least, not yet. And I pray they never will fall so low!

I wouldn't be too quick to pronounce Liberty orthodox especially right after saying something about not knowing too much about Liberty. Todd seems to do this frequently on these really touchy issues, I've noticed. It seems a bit like a double standard. "I don't know that much about it but... I'm going to say something about it anyway... but YOU people shouldn't be too hasty." Is that really what Wretched wants to be doing? Research is really not that difficult these days and someone who makes his living talking has got to be spending more time doing it. While you can't always get answers online, There is a LOT you CAN find and you can develop at least a pretty broad picture of what is going on just by listening to and reading their materials. You can also at least find a lot of likely places to look for further information.

A while back I listened to some Jon Falwell sermons, and they are as law-based-purpose-driven as the day is long. "The Ultimate Ride: Transforming your life and family." ugh. Sorry, I can't even transform my kitchen.

Oh, and look at this:
https://www.liberty.edu/media/1109/graduatesenate/Graduate%20Senate%20Bill%20070818_2-25-08.pdf
2) The title of EDMN 620 will be changed from Purpose Driven Ministries to Strategic Driven Ministries, affecting pp. 51, 54 and 63 of the catalog and to be in effect at time of ratification.

A skunk cabbage by any other name...

Liberty is "orthodox" the same way Rick Warren is "orthodox."

Oh, hello John Piper! Fancy meeting you here!