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Converge Worldwide (Baptist General Conference)/Bethel University and Seminary Push Questionable Doctrinal Practices

Contact: Underground Apologetics, 608-469-7956

MADISON, Wisc.,  Dec. 16 /Christian Newswire/ -- Baptist General Conference, now Converge Worldwide, has become weakened by promoting questionable doctrinal practices.

Recently, Bethel University, a Converge Worldwide school, promoted an Interreligious Symposium on November 3 in St. Paul, Minnesota. The three main speakers included Buddhist monk Witiyala Seewalie, Buddhist layman Ted Meissner, and Paul Reasoner, a Bethel professor who studied the "Christian Zen" movement.

Jan Markell, President of Olive Tree Ministries and a Bethel graduate, stated, "I wasn't prepared for what I was about to hear. The Interreligious Symposium was promoting some kind of 'common ground' between Buddhism and Christianity. A panel concluded there was a 'common ground' when it came to 'meditation.'"

In the May 2008 issue of the BGC World Magazine (now Converge Point), an article appeared on fitness called "Bent Every Which Way" by Jan Johnson. Included with the article were photos of a young woman in various yoga positions. Jan Johnson promotes Contemplative Prayer in her books.

Contemplative Prayer is usually repetitive chanting, breathing in a controlled manner, or the emptying of the mind. Contemplative Prayer is not the normal reading of the Bible and praying as laid out in the Lord's prayer (Luke 11:2-4) or the rest of the Bible.

Former New Ager Marcia Montenegro explains the influences on Contemplative Prayer at her website, "The influence of Buddhism and Hinduism on Contemplative Prayer is apparent. Words such as 'detachment,' 'transformation,' 'emptiness,' 'enlightenment' and 'awakening'" are used to explain this type of prayer.

On the Bethel University website, President Jay Barnes said my "friends taught me about contemplative prayer." Then on the Bethel Seminary website, the seminary promotes "The Center for Spiritual and Personal Formation" that offers various courses on spiritual formation. One course is designed around Contemplative Prayer promoter Henri Nouwen, who taught universalism, the belief that Jesus Christ is not the only way to God.

According to the Lighthouse Trails Research Project's website, spiritual formation "is a movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which Contemplative Prayer is entering the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement."

At the annual 2010 Converge Worldwide Biennial Meeting to be held in Denver, Colorado, Converge Worldwide President Jerry Sheveland and his wife will host "Spiritual Formation and Worship" during the Friday and Saturday sessions.

From all indications, Converge Worldwide and Bethel are in dangerous territory. Madison, Wisconsin's Underground Apologetics President Steve McConkey says, "Converge Worldwide and Bethel have been a beacon of hope in Christ in the upper Midwest. Times are changing and we believe they are in difficult territory. People need to be aware. There is hope that they come back to the truth and not justify practices that put the essential doctrines in jeopardy."