Tom welcomes guest Warren Smith, author of many books about the New Age, including Deceived on Purpose. Warren shares his own background in the world of psychics and channelers and his deliverance from that. Then God led him into a ministry that exposes just how heavily that same movement has entrenched itself within the church.
Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael, thanks for joining us. In today’s program, Tom welcomes special guest Warren Smith, author of many books including From the New Age to Amazing Grace, Deceived on Purpose, The New Age Implications of The Purpose Driven Movement, and others. Now along with his guest, here’s TBC executive director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Today and next week my guest is and will be Warren Smith. Warren is an author and speaker, and his books include The Light That Was Dark: From the New Age to Amazing Grace; Deceived on Purpose: The New Age Implications of the Emerging Purpose-Driven Church; A Wonderful Deception: The Further New Age Implications of the Purpose-Driven Church, and False Christ Coming: Does Anybody Care? I like that title, by the way, Warren. And, well, the subtitle to that is What New Age Leaders Really Have in Store for America, the Church, and the World; Watering the Greyhound Garden: Stories from the Streets of San Francisco. Kind of about your background, and one of our staff members read it and really enjoyed it, Warren.
Warren: Thanks. It’s really good to be with you.
Tom: You know, Warren, before we start talking about Another Jesus Calling, I’d like you to tell our listeners about your background in the New Age, because it’s just amazing how God will pick us out of anywhere that He’s allowed us to get into and then use it to His glory and to the benefit of the body. But anyway, tell us about your background.
Warren: I started out on the East Coast. After I got out of the Army, I gravitated out to San Francisco to try to find myself, and as I tried to find myself, I got in more and more trouble. Psychology—I went into social work, which was my lifetime profession and career. And it all started when I saw a psychic—not because I was really spiritually inclined but because I was fascinated by a waitress in a downtown restaurant, had her over for dinner, and she said a friend of a friend of hers was coming in from Canada and was a psychic. Would I like to have a psychic reading? I really didn’t care, but I went ahead and did it, and in the midst of the psychic reading, there was a supernatural experience: I could feel something over my head; it was whirling, twirling. It was very disconcerting, and without my saying anything, the psychic said, “Are you aware there’s a ball of light over your head right now?”
And I said, “No, what’s it doing there?”
She said, “You have a lot of help on the other side.”
And then I asked what that was, and she said, “Loved ones that have passed on, spirits that are interested in your wellbeing, angels…” And that night (the original Light That Was Darkness was published by Moody Press, on the original book you see me lying there on the flat roof of my house), and I prayed kind of a reverse sinner’s prayer, and I said, “All you on the other side, I want to be more spiritual. I want to grow. Please come into my life.”
And I really was sincere, and I was sincerely deceived, and the New Age came flying into my life in just all sorts of different ways. One of the first ways was Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, guru from India—I learned a lot of the beginning teachings of the New Age from him; got involved with other psychics, channelers, and a set of teachings called A Course in Miracles, which was really my…sort of my New Age bible.
And my wife and I were very involved. We were evangelizing our town, we were sharing our New Age teachings with friends—sort of on the cutting edge, back in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s, when the New Age was just starting to make some noise. And things were going really well, we thought, and then we had to deal with a strange kind of oppressive presence that we just—it did not play into our usual daily life. We didn’t know what it was. And in the New Age, Tom, as you know, there’s no such thing as “evil,” so when something like that’s happening, you have to “go inside yourself,” according to the New Age, find out what your fear is, fix it, and then the oppression will go away.
But that didn’t happen, and the long and the short of it is, I was in a bookstore in Southern California—this oppression continued to particularly haunt my wife—and I pulled a book out of the New Age healing section called The Beautiful Side of Evil, by Johanna Michelson. It was a Christian book; I didn’t know it. And I was led through her story of getting involved with a psychic surgeon in Mexico City, even after she was a believer! A lot of believers don’t know their Bible, and then they get involved with teachings that are not biblical and that get us in a lot of trouble.
And in her case, she started to feel something was wrong with the psychic surgeon, and she was now starting to uncork scriptures, and I was fascinated because I’d never seen some of these scriptures about deception, 1 Timothy:4:1, Matthew 24—and I’m on the floor writing this stuff down, and, lo and behold, a homeless mentally ill guy that I’d seen on the street a couple days before came into the store back where I was sitting on the floor taking notes, and he started screaming at me, “Are you gonna buy that book or what? What are you doing with that book?”
And I sort of said to myself, Whoa, is evil real, and can evil orchestrate a guy to come off the street to try to keep me from reading about truth? And it was kind of like “yes,” and “yes.” And what Johanna said in that book was “Call upon the name of the Lord,” and Romans:10:13: “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” And the next day, when this “presence” was there, that’s exactly what I did. And I said, “Satan, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, I command that you leave. I call upon the victory in the Cross of Calvary. I claim the blood of Jesus Christ upon us. I forbid your presence here. In Jesus name, GO!” And it left. And my wife and I were just dumbfounded. It was like, “Whoa!” And she said, “What was that? It’s gone!”
And I said, “It has to do with the victory on the cross at Calvary, and Jesus won a victory over Satan.” And it was kind of like “What?? College educated people don’t believe in Satan, right?” Well, all of a sudden, we were confronted with the truth, so we started comparing (you’d think we’d get saved on the spot! [chuckles] When you’re deluded, you’re really deluded). So we started to read the Bible along with our Course in Miracles teachings, and the Bible came out the winner every time.
And so, we just eventually—within, just, I think…several months—accepted the Lord and repented of all of our New Age teachings, and have been trying to warn the church ever since.
You know, as a matter of fact, Tom, one of the first things that we did in the churches is we bought cases…I actually had Dave’s home phone number, Dave Hunt’s home phone number at that time because it was just before you guys really broke out and people really got to know you, and I got a couple cases of The Seduction of Christianity, and we just passed them out like newspapers in the church.
And we were like the New Age—the ex-New Age—freaks. “Those are the guys who came out of the New Age!” and we’re passing out your books and saying, “This is right. This is coming into the church.” So that was back in 1984 when we got saved, and we’ve been trying to warn people ever since.
Tom: Now speak about that. Here you are, somebody who the Lord has allowed you to go through this experience, and you want to use it to warn others—probably the church accepted you with open arms, and they got excited about what you were doing. Was that the case?
Warren: I’ll give you a little anecdote…
Tom: (Laughing) Okay.
Warren: We went into one church…
Warren: …and this kind little old lady said, “Well, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, it’s so nice to have you here. Are you saved?”
We said, “Yeah.”
She said, “How long have you been saved?”
I said, “Oh, about 30 days.”
And she said, “How did you come to know the Lord?”
And I said, “Well, there was a tremendous amount of deception. We learned that there were evil spirits. We called on the name of the Lord, and we got saved!”
And she said, “Well, Mr. Smith, the coffee and the doughnuts are right over there. And, Mabel, could you help this nice young couple, and get out of here!”
It was like we were just bringing in something that most people didn’t want to hear, because it was kind of a pleasant day-to-day Sunday-to-Sunday Christianity, and we’re coming right out of the warfare, and, admittedly, we were probably a little bit rough, but, hey, there’s a battle going on out there. There’s deception, and we were just amazed that the church didn’t seem to really understand. And that’s when you guys came in with your book, and that caused all sorts of…
Tom: Yeah, and of course, we were accepted with open arms by the establishment…
Tom: I remember people…I think back, this was, well, you mentioned it, ’85, ’84-‘85 we were working on that book, but when it did come out, not even the apologetics establishment, discernment establishment—we heard things like, “Well, Dave Hunt just made up the New Age just to sell books.”
Warren: (chuckling) Yeah, right.
Tom: I mean, it was just incredible. And then, of course, we followed that with…well, Dave did Beyond Seduction, but then we did America: The Sorcerer’s New Apprentice. We just jumped in. It was a book that…a clarion call to people who were buying into this, or their friends, which you know well, to let them know what this was about. And it was a hard sell. It was incredible!
Warren: Yeah, I remember, because this one particular church where we passed out the books, the next week the pastor just raved about your book and told everybody to get it. And then the week after that he told everybody he’d made a mistake (laughing). It was funny: “No, no, no! Don’t get that book.” He’d been primed by the forces that be, or whatever.
Tom: Well, that’s the sad part. Men—we have agendas. We have sacred cows. We have these things that we’ve bought into, and we just do not want to repent of them, you know? We want to hang on, or not look like we’ve bought into something that’s delusionary.
Tom: Now, Warren, as you participated in many New Age practices, what was your reaction—and this is what your book is about, in a sense—what was your reaction to channeling? How did that hit you?
Warren: Well, you know, there’s a progressive type of thing that happens when you go into the New Age. You have these supposedly “meant to be” kind of experiences that make you think that the universe—we used to call it the Universe—is leading you on. God is leading you on, giving you bits and pieces. And because of my experience with the psychic, I immediately had credibility—or gave credibility to psychics—the fact that there was a spirit realm. I was told that it was kind and beneficent, looking out for our best interest. And I bought into that, because it seemed to be reflecting those things in my life.
And I was actually at a hot springs in Northern California, and I was tying my shoe in the locker room, and this guy was tying his shoe right next to me, and we started talking, and he was a psychologist and I was a social worker, and all of a sudden, he just looks at me, and he says, “You know, I’m working with a guy that was a farmer—a Napa Valley farmer—and he just really wanted to hear the voice of God and he just kept doing his meditation and his practices, and one day, it punched through it, and now he’s channeling the Source of the Universe. Do you want to have a reading?”
And I went, “Yeah! Sure!” It was like synchronicity in motion here. And I got involved with this channeler, and what I perceived him to be doing was actually to be in touch with a collective kind of “good” and “god,” if you will, called the Source. As a matter of fact, Esther Hicks, who channels Abraham, the “Law of Attraction” lady that got a lot of play from Oprah Winfrey, called Abraham The Source—or actually, Abraham calls itself The Source. It’s a collective entity of beings, beneficent beings, that have only—according to Wayne Dyer—our wellbeing in mind (chuckling)…
Tom: How does he know? (laughing)
Warren: And unfortunately, I didn’t know…I didn’t have any biblical background. I had, you know, I came…was in a very liberal church when I was a kid, dropped it when I went to college, so I was just wide open. So, I’ve actually got a story in The Light That Was Dark where I told my channeler friend that I had actually gotten my own leading, and I was not to run this marathon because I wasn’t quite prepared, and we’re…I told him I’d run the first five miles with him. So we’re running along—this may be hard to believe—but he said, “You know, maybe it’s just fear. Maybe it’s just fear. Let me do a reading.”
I said, “No, no, Sam. We’re not doing a reading.”
He says, “Come on! It’s probably just fear.”
I said, “Okay, good. Do a reading.” So they go, “We would say that you are able to finish the race.”
So we’re running along in this Napa Valley marathon and doing a reading with this guy, and he convinced me. I went, “Okay, yeah. Yeah, I’ll do it.” And I finished the race. And I got my t-shirt, and I felt really good. But I was completely exhausted. My electrolytes were shot. I was wasted for, like, two or three months. And the guidance that I’d gotten on my own was actually much more reflective of the condition that I was in.
But I spent a lot of time with this guy, and he would tell me many things that played out and were true in my life. And, Tom, you know, I was thinking about this this morning—I started getting ready for talking with you, and I was thinking of Deuteronomy 13, where we’re told if a prophet or a dreamer of dreams tells you something and it comes true, but then says to follow after another god, don’t follow that prophet or that dreamer of dreams.
And that’s what happened. We were getting a whole new kind of New Age spirituality. We were getting a whole new take on Christianity and on…you know, what was really true.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Now, you were working with a channeler. Folks, if you’re not used to that term, it’s a medium. It’s somebody who supposedly is in touch with beings. A shaman would be another word. Or somebody who participates in witchcraft. But it has to do with…or divination…it has to do with contacting spirit entities, no matter who they claim to be, no matter what the deal is. But, Warren, did you actually hear a voice? Or were you just working with some who would claim to hear a voice?
Warren: In my case, it’s interesting, Tom. I never—for whatever reason, I never had a desire to be a channeler myself. I mainly worked with psychics and channelers and just got information from them. So that was—yeah, that was mainly the way that it worked for me. I believe that God was protecting me, and there were reasons for that.
Tom: And the reason He was protecting you is, well, let’s just lay it out for the folks, if they’re not tracking with us. These are demons, folks. These are spirit entities, which we’re going to get into because of not only what they have to say, how contradictory it is to the Word of God, it’s a rejection of truth. But there are spirit entities out there. The Bible calls them devils and demons, and so on.
Warren: And you know, Tom, just a—just to interrupt for a second—some of these entities come in the name of Jesus, and Jesus Christ! Like Johanna Michelson’s spirit guide was named Jesus Christ. And her testimony was that she finally realized that this was not…she did 1 John:4:1, testing the spirits, and she said her meditation laboratory, where she, you know, saw this Jesus Christ spirit guide, it “exploded,” in her words, and he disappeared because it was not the true Jesus Christ.
Warren: And the Course in Miracles that I was involved in—that is what Oprah has been preaching for at least since 1992—is reputedly “new revelation from Jesus Christ” in this set of teachings called the Course in Miracles.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Now, tell us a little about that. This is Helen Schucman, a psychologist who didn’t believe in this stuff. But tell our audience about that.
Warren: Yeah, she didn’t…she heard a voice on day, an inner voice, that said, “This is A Course in Miracles. Please take notes.” And she did. And it was over the course of, I think, seven years she took these notes that would drop off, you know, when she would have to eat or do something else, and it would pick right back up again wherever they had left off. And it was reputedly new revelation, new truth, from Jesus Christ.
And, I’ll just go through a few of the teachings just to show you how blasphemous they are, and this is Oprah Winfrey’s Christianity. People need to understand when she says she’s a Christian, she is doing New Age Christianity, which is not biblical Christianity. And here are the teachings that—not that Oprah’s saying, or that Helen Schucman is saying—but that the Jesus of A Course in Miracles is saying:
“The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.”
“When God created you, he made you part of him.”
“Is Jesus the Christ? Oh yes, along with you.”
“The journey to the cross should be the last useless journey. The crucifixion did not establish the atonement, the resurrection did. Many sincere Christians have misunderstood this.”
What I found out, obviously, from my testimony, was there was a victory in the Cross of Calvary over the devil, Hebrews:2:14, and there was a victory over sin and death, and that something really did happen on the Cross, but they’re denying it.
And this one, “There’s no sin, no devil,” and then, listen to this one: “The atonement is the final lesson that he (man) need learn. For it teaches him that never having sinned, he has no need of salvation.” This is Oprah Winfrey’s Christianity. This is the new Christianity, the new spirituality, the new worldview that’s coming into the world and into the church.
Tom: Yeah, you know, I’ve asked people sometimes at conferences, “Can you tell me who the most influential spiritual teacher is in America today?” And they’ll run through the gamut. “Well, it’s this guy…” “It’s Billy Graham…” “It’s Rick Warren…” on and on.
I say, “You’re not even close. It’s Oprah Winfrey.” Especially before she went to her cable network. I don’t know what her audience is now, but then, 17 million a day!
Tom: Ekhart Tolle, you go down the list of the people she’s had on. Scientology, Tom Cruise (laughing), I mean, it doesn’t make any difference.
Warren: From M. Scott Peck, to Deepak Chopra, to Esther Hicks, and the whole lot.
Tom: And, again, folks, if…if some of this is bothering you, what we’re saying, the reality is, you can check out, if you will—be a Berean—check out what she has been teaching, if you’re still into it, if you’re still watching her. Compare anything with the Word of God. But the problem today is most people are not comparing what they’re hearing with the Scriptures. God’s Word. So…
Well, let’s get to Another Jesus Calling. And this is why I wanted you to give not just your background, but some of these things that relate to what people—and professing Christians at least—have bought into in a major way, and it’s no different than what you’ve read—the works of the New Age—little difference. But we’ll get into that.
How did you come across the book? I’m talking about Jesus Calling, written by Sarah Young. What are the numbers now? Selling…9 million in print?
Warren: The latest that I’ve heard was 9 million, 26 different languages, 200,000 apps, and that’s just—that’s not counting the Jesus Calling for teens, for kids, the Jesus Calling Bible Devotional, 40 Days with Jesus Calling…there’s just a whole…it’s like a publishing industry. And the way that I first saw it, I was at Costco several years ago, and I just noticed…the title caught my attention, and I looked through it, and just…I guess my thought was, “Oh, boy, just another kind of frivolous Christian book.” And it just didn’t have any…I just couldn’t really get into it at all, and I saw there were a few things in there that were troublesome, but I didn’t really read it, per se. And I put it down, and as you know, Tom, you can’t keep…it’s like in Hans Brinker and Silver Skates, there’s so many holes in the dike, you can’t keep track of them all. You can’t keep track of all the false teachers.
But earlier this year, I was heading up to Northern Alberta for a prophecy conference, and I think just a couple days before the conference, one of the women that was involved with heading it up in terms of organization, called and said, “Warren, what do you know about the book Jesus Calling?
And I said, “Not much. I know it’s not something you want to read.”
And she said, “Well, we’re troubled by it. Would you look into it, and maybe address it when you come up to the conference.”
So I went down to the local Christian bookstore, and I saw piles of Jesus Calling in front of a shelf where it was already fully stocked, and all these racks with Jesus Calling Bible devotionals—just everything possible. Pink covers, sage covers, leather covers, deluxe covers, and I went Wow! This thing has really taken off! I guess I should have known when it was at Costco.
But I got the book, and I immediately noticed that she said that God Calling was the book that inspired her to take messages from Jesus. And I knew the book God Calling, because we had it when we were in the New Age, Tom. It was a New Age book. As a matter of fact, Harvest House Christian Publisher, in their encyclopedia of New Age beliefs, labeled it—God Calling—as a “channeled New Age work” and went into, like, a couple columns of just showing how it was a New Age book. And yet, Sarah Young is saying that this is the book that was a treasure. She said, “It’s a treasure to me,” and I immediately thought of—what is it?— Matthew:6:21: “Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.”
And that really, like, kind of Whoa! This is dangerous!
So I went and got God Calling at a used bookstore, and on the plane up to northern Alberta I read both of them. And I was pretty horrified at what I read. I remembered God Calling—I knew how bad that was. And then to read her book, which is patterned after it—she was inspired by it—there were just all sorts of problems. And I ended up—it was kind of funny, you’ve probably done this, too, where you spend lots of time preparing for a conference—I mean, like hours and hours and hours and hours—and then all of a sudden I’m talking about something that I just prepared like a day before, because that’s what they needed to hear.
Tom: Right. Listen, I was at a conference back in the Midwest, listening to some of the speakers, and I was just shocked at what they had to say, and I had to run up to my room and redo my talk. They weren’t pleased, and I wasn’t invited back, but nevertheless, look, that’s the way the Lord leads. We prepare things, and it’s important to do that, but we need to be led of the Spirit as well.
Now, just give us a few comparisons—we’ve got about three minutes left in this session—just some brief comparisons between God Calling and Jesus Calling.
Warren: God Calling—the New Age language is perhaps more obvious. I think it’s pretty obvious in Jesus Calling, too. But there’s an emphasis on spiritual experience trumping the Word of God. In other words, there’s this value that’s put on experiencing Jesus more than reading the Words of the Bible. And the key thing is that in both books, they both have ways of saying that God is in everyone and everything. And that’s the bottom line of the New Age, new spirituality. That’s the…when you see that in any book, close it up! That is just not the way…
Tom: Sure. That’s pantheism, and/or panentheism, which is paganism.
Warren: Yeah. Yeah, and there’s a tremendous amount of flattery in both books. In God Calling…
Tom: Flattery to whom?
Warren: Flattery to the reader.
Tom: (Laughing) Right. It’s all about self, isn’t it?
Warren: Yes. And the Jesus of God Calling says that “I need you more than you need me.” Wow! You know…I don’t think so! That’s not… And then some of the same statements—there’s flattery in …and maybe in next week’s session we can go through some of the things that “he” says, but a couple of them that really grabbed me is when he says (this is “Jesus,” in Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling):
“I’m aching to hold you in my everlasting arms.”
“When you walk through a day in trusting dependence on me, my aching heart is soothed.”
“As you listen to birds calling to one another, hear also my love call to you.” I’m just going, “You know…”
Tom: Yeah, Warren, let me interject this. You know, at our conference, we had Keith Gibson, who—I don’t know anybody who knows, understands, and has written more clearly about the International House of Prayer, about the Manifest Sons of God, Latter Rain Movement, and so forth. And that’s what they preach: a romantic Jesus…
Tom: …for these young people.
Tom: Not just taking off on Song of Solomon, but just building a case, almost to the point of eroticism…I mean, it’s really grotesque. But there you go! One claiming to be evangelical, claiming to be biblically Christian, yet, hey, we get the same message here from the New Age, from channelers, to Christianity.
Warren: Yeah. So, spiritual experience over the Word of God, and then a real push to get into hearing the voice of God. Almost like if you don’t hear the voice of God, there’s something wrong with you, and I’ve been hearing this a lot from a lot of so-called Christian leaders.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Well, that’s all we have time for in this session, but the Lord willing, Warren, we’ll get back to this next week. We want to deal with Jesus Calling. If you’re told, as you’re told in this book, that it’s important to go to a quiet place, sit down, with pen and pencil in hand, look to and try to bring about the presence of Jesus, and then write down what he has to say. That’s divination. We’ll get to that next week.
So, thanks, Warren, and we’ll pick this up.
Warren: Okay, Tom.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter contact us at P.O. Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800.937.6638. Or visit our website at the bereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in, and we hope you can join us again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.