The Art of Connecting.
An appraisal of the Book by Roy Crowne & Bill Muir
Published 2003 by Youth for Christ.
Youth for Christ
According to Youth for Christ UK: “Youth for Christ (YFC) is a national Christian charity that was founded by Billy Graham in 1946.” 1
However YFC US states: “In the early 1940s, during World War II, many young men, mostly ministers and evangelists, were holding large rallies in Canada, England and the United States. YFC quickly organized into a national movement. Billy Graham became YFC’s first full-time staff member.” 2
Wikipedia reports: “In 1944 Chicago pastor Torrey Johnson was elected Youth for Christ’s first president, with Billy Graham as it’s first full-time worker.” 3
Around this time Billy Graham befriended and came under the influence of the Roman Catholic Bishop Fulton Sheen. This friendship only ended with the Bishop’s death in 1979. Billy Graham publicly admitted to this to the Religious News Service, Dec. 11, 1979, stating that he had “known him as a friend for over 35 years”!
Billy Graham’s involvement with Rome carried on through the years he was employed by Youth for Christ as he openly admits in his autobiography:
“He [Willis Haymaker] would also call on the local Catholic bishop or other clerics to acquaint them with Crusade plans and invite them to the meetings; they would usually appoint a priest to attend and report back. This was years before Vatican II’s openness to Protestants, but WE WERE CONCERNED TO LET THE CATHOLIC BISHOPS SEE THAT MY GOAL WAS NOT TO GET PEOPLE TO LEAVE THEIR CHURCH; rather, I wanted them to commit their lives to Christ” (4. Graham, Just As I Am, p. 163.)
David Cloud comments on this:
On Sept. 6, 1952, reporter William McElwain, writing for the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, remarked on Graham’s ecumenical activities with Rome:
“Graham stressed that his crusade in Pittsburgh would be interdenominational. He said that he hopes to hear Bishop Fulton J. Sheen at one of the Masses at St. Paul’s Cathedral tomorrow. Graham said, ‘Many of the people who have reached a decision for Christ at our meetings have joined the Catholic church and we have received commendations from Catholic publications for the revived interest in their church following one of our campaigns. This happened both in Boston and Washington. After all, one of our prime purposes is to help the churches in a community.’” 5
According to the Oxford English Dictionary Art is defined as:
a skill at doing a specified thing, typically one acquired through practice.
from Old French art (10c.), from Latin artem (nominative ars) “work of art; practical skill; a business, craft,” from PIE *ar-ti- (cf. Sanskrit rtih “manner, mode;” Greek arti “just,” artios “complete, suitable,” artizein “to prepare;” Latin artus “joint;” Armenian arnam “make;” German art “manner, mode”), from root *ar- “fit together, join”.
3 Story Living
The Art of Connecting is the story of ‘Three Story Living’. It was a concept primarily conceived by Bill Muir, then Senior Vice President of Youth for Christ in the USA
The Art of Connecting Page 5
According to YFC:
3Story is not an evangelism tool or method, it is who we want to be and how we want to live. In YFC, 3Story is our living operating system. Our hope is that it becomes our DNA. Knowing that if we seek to abide deeply with Jesus everyday and stay saturated in His word, we will be ready and aware of the opportunities He gives us in a lost world. We focus on the “being” and the “doing” flows from there. 6
According to North East Scotland Youth for Christ:
The Art of Connecting, developed by Youth for Christ, is a 7-week course aimed at equipping your 11-18 year olds in personal evangelism. By learning the art of ‘Three-Story Living’, your young people will gain confidence in knowing their own story whilst also learning to listen to and value the stories of their friends. By connecting deeper into God’s great Story, your young people will see the impact on the lives of those around them. 7
Although YFC declare that “3Story is not an evangelism tool or method”, it is quite obvious from YFC’s own statements that 3Story plays an integral part in evangelism.
“In January 2002, Bill [Muir] came to the UK for the YFC staff conference and we found ourselves exploring these questions together [The problems people have over evangelism and speaking to others about Jesus]. It was the start of a journey that would develop into a philosophy with the potential to change lives…..the key would be found in relationships: everyday, ordinary interaction between friends.
The Art of Connecting Page 5
So the discovery they made is simply “friendship Evangelism”!
The New Century Version
Like every book that aims to teach us about Christian Living reference to the Scriptures has to be made. The Bible Version of choice for this book is the New Century Version.
According to Thomas Nelson, Inc., the publisher of the New Century Version, the translation process of the NCV was guided by a commitment to be faithful to the manuscripts in the original languages. A team composed of the World Bible Translation Center and fifty additional, highly qualified and experienced Bible scholars and translators was assembled. The team included people with translation experience on such accepted versions as the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible, and the New King James Version. The most recent scholarship and the best available Hebrew and Greek texts were used, principally the third edition of the United Bible Societies’ Greek text and the latest edition of the Biblia Hebraica, along with the Septuagint. 8
At this point I will not enter into the debate over Bible Versions, however it is worth noting that The New Century Version of the Bible is a revision of the International Children’s Bible, which was aimed at young readers and those with low English reading and vocabulary skills.
The ICB is written at a 3rd-grade level and is both conservative and evangelical in tone. The ICB was revised somewhat to be a bit more sophisticated (reading level grade 5) and was dubbed the New Century Version. So essentially we have a version that is “dumbed down”!
Story telling is an essential part of the concept of the book:
We began to explore the idea of moving away from the traditional steps and decisions we had so often preached, and looking, instead, towards story-telling….people communicate most naturally when they are exploring their own stories together; sharing their needs as, over time, they reveal more of themselves. In this setting, God’s story—that of the relationship he longs for with each one of us—can be gently and sensitively unveiled…Everyone can be comfortable….
The Art of Connecting page 5
The book is divided up into three parts: Part 1: Your Story, Part 2: Their Story, Part 3: God’s Story, with an additional Three Story Question Time at the end.
Each Part is also divided up into two chapters interspersed with a “Talk Back” section comprising conversations. It is not apparent whether these are actual conversations or ones fabricated for the purposes of the book.
The book is primarily aimed at young people, however it can be used by anyone. There are aspects of it’s teaching that should be of concern to us all. I have noted several that I believe are particularly problematic.
On page 14 it states:
Why should a person take notice of me, let alone trust me, if I corner them and push them through the four traditional evangelism steps. One there is a God who loves you. Two: You have sinned and separated yourself from him. Three: Jesus died for you. Four: If you put your faith in Him you will be forgiven….This stuff is all true, of course, but there is something badly amiss with the method of communicating it.
The first question to ask is, “Is this stuff all true as the authors assume?” True we have all sinned but have we “separated ourselves from God”?
The Bible states that it is not we who have separated ourselves from God:
But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)
Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6)
It is God who has separated Himself from us. Because of our sins He has hidden Himself from us! This type of thinking has a subtle way of making man at the centre of the Gospel.
Statement three states, “Jesus died for you” which is also true, but no indication is given as to why He died! The authors assume that the reader truly understands the reason why Jesus died.
In its advice on Prayer, page 29 we read:
How about, for example, taking a quiet walk alone; or sitting comfortably with the lights off and some relaxing and inspiring music. Some people like to light a candle and stare into its flame.
Sitting in the dark while listening to music is a meditation technique in which music is used as a means to create mood. Yet again we see how music is playing a central role as a spiritual medium to create a mood and induce an emotional response. Such music is often called Ambience Music. An early experimenter with this type of music was the French pianist Erik Satie who called it “Furniture Music”. The music is intended to serve as a background atmosphere rather than serving as the focus of attention. 9
In the 1950´s the American composer John Cage, inspired partly by Satie’s “Furniture Music” and partly by Indian and Oriental philosophies (especially I-Ching), would become one of 20th century America’s leading composers. His largely experimental compositions would use the I-Ching as his main composition tool.
To compose a piece of music, Cage would come up with questions to ask the I Ching; the book would then be used in much the same way as it is used for divination. For Cage, this meant “imitating nature in its manner of operation”10
Influenced by both Satie and Cage a new form of music was developed called “Ambient Music”. “Ambient Music” was also influenced by New Age ideas. British musician Brian Eno is the main proponent of this form of music. He has been a big influence in the field of popular music collaborating with, and producing many of, the late 20th century’s most iconic artists and bands including Talking Heads, U2, Depeche Mode, Coldplay, Paul Simon and David Bowie, amongst others.
The Ambient Music Guide argues that he has brought from “relative obscurity into the popular consciousness” fundamental ideas about ambient music, including “the idea of modern music as subtle atmosphere, as chill-out, as impressionistic, as something that creates space for quiet reflection or relaxation.” 11
Rosemary Ellen Guiley is an American researcher and writer on topics related to Spirituality, the Occult and the Paranormal. In her article, Candle Lore and Magic she writes:
Ancient peoples observed that candle flames revealed mysterious things. By staring into a flame, one could enter an altered state of consciousness and see gods and spirits, or see the future. The late Egyptians of about the 3rd century used lamps, and possibly candles, in a magic ritual for “dreaming true,” or obtaining answers from dreams. The individual retired to a dark cave facing south, and sat and stared into a flame until he saw a god. He then lay down and went to sleep, anticipating that the god would appear in his dreams with the answers he sought.12
In Buddhism, for example, the practitioner is taught to:
stare deep into the burning flame of the candle and focus on it. Don’t let your vision of the candle falme become blurred. As you stare at the candle your mind will become filled with the noise of everyday thinking, worries and trivial concerns.
These should just start to drift away and after a short while, you may begin to receive images and thoughts that don’t seem to come from you. Take these as your spiritual guides and try to interpret them.
Keep staring at the candle’s burning flame do not be distracted and try to interpret the visions you are receiving. One common example is that of ‘seeing’ a peeled onion. At first this may seem senseless but in this example it could signify that as you travel further along on your life’s path, the layers are being peeled away allowing you to see and experience the ultimate core of you existence.
As you progress further with your candle meditation try to learn to trust your own analysis and understanding of these thoughts that the candle brings to your mind. Candle meditation thus acts as a powerful way of focusing your concentration.
Try to build up your experience of candle meditation from 5 minutes a day to 20 minutes and do this over several months. Your eyes will need to adapt to the candle’s light and over time, you will be able distinguish between which thoughts are your own and which can act as your spiritual guides. 13
The Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, volume 3, page 188, says:
We may take it as established beyond dispute that there was no ceremonial use of candles or lamps in Christian worship or in churches for the first three centuries. Up to that time the spiritual simplicity of worship as well as the strong antagonism to heathen customs which characterized the early days still continued, and found expression in occasional protests against the corrupting effect of heathen customs.
The Schaff-Hersog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, volume I page 383, declares:
Candles use of, in divine service. There is no trace of their use during the first three centuries; for Lactantius (250-330) says, ‘If they (the heathen) would contemplate that heavenly light which we call the sun, they will at once perceive how God has no need of their candles, who has Himself given so clear and bright a light for the use of man. … Is that man therefore to be thought in his senses, who presents the light of candles and torches as an offering to Him who is the Author and Giver of light?’ (Div. Inst., VI, 2.).
These two recommended so-called “forms of prayer” lead people into the gnostic “Contemplative Christianity” and “Neo-Mysticism”. Modern forms that are heavily influenced by the works of Catholic mystics such as St Teresa de Avila, Julian of Norwich, and (more recently) Thomas Merton and Thomas Keating.
Merton was heavily influenced by oriental mystics having travelled to the East to learn from Hindu and Buddhist sages. Merton co-authored a book with Dalai Lama Xiv entitled “The Way of Chuang Tzu.”
Chuang Tzu, more commonly known as Zhuangzi, was an influential Chinese philosopher who lived around the 4th century BC. Chuang Tzu was a follower of Daoism (aka. Taoism). A recurrent and important element of Taoism are rituals, exercises and substances aiming at aligning oneself spiritually with cosmic forces, at undertaking ecstatic spiritual journeys, or at improving physical health and thereby extending one’s life, ideally to the point of immortality.
Kohn, Livia, ed. Daoism Handbook (Leiden: Brill, 2000) Page 672
. Robinet, Isabelle. Taoist Meditation: The Mao-shan Tradition of Great Purity (Albany: SUNY Press, 1993 [original French 1989]) pages 228 & 103.
Thomas Keating was a Cistercian monk who, along with two other monks (William Meninger and M. Basil Pennington) developed the practice of “Centering Prayer”. Whereas Merton was strongly influenced by Buddhist tradition Keating drew heavily from Catholic Mystical tradition especially from the so-called “Desert fathers”.
The Desert Fathers were a group of 3rd Century Christian hermits and ascetics who lived in the Egyptian desert. They were marked out because their informal gatherings served as the model for Christian Monasticism. The main practice of these men was to withdraw from society, the practice of “inner-silence” (or Hesychasm), Charity and forgiveness as well as the recitation of Scripture.
We can see modern developments of these practices in the popularising of such things as Lectio Divina, silent meditation, social welfare and Christian retreats. These practices have spilled over and have been absorbed into mainstream Evangelical churches.
Millions of Christians across the world have bought Richard J. Foster’s Seminal book Celebration of Discipline. Foster is a Quaker and quotes from various authors who he considers influential in the various disciplines he outlines in the book. These include:
- Danish Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard
- The German Dominican mystic Meister Ekhard
- Spanish Mystic Teresa de Avila
- English Hermit and Catholic Mystic Richard Rolle
- Spanish Mystic and founder of the Jesuits Ignatius of Loyola
- Swiss Psychiatrist and occultist Carl G. Jung
This book remains as a Christian Classic for all those who are drawn towards Contemplative Spirituality.
Returning to The Art of Connecting, page 73:
God still loved us and kept giving opportunities and calling us back to that relationship. By the end of the Old Testament God must have felt like her was banging his head against a brick wall, so he decided it was time to make the ultimate sacrifice, to give his best shot and come down to earth himself to sort out the situation (actually, he must have suspected he’d have to do this all along, because he makes numerous undercover references to it throughout the Old Testament.
God did NOT suspect any such thing, God knew all along exactly what was going to happen even before He created everything. God is omniscient which means that He knows everything! In the Bible we are told that Jesus Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.(Revelation 13:8) This was not some contingency plan that God put together in case things went wrong with His creation!
On page 93 we find:
Closer to home, initiatives such as the Alpha Course have seen significant church growth…
The Alpha Course (developed by Holy Trinity Brompton) is purely ecumenical in nature. It leads people into deception concerning the Roman Catholic Church. In fact Alpha is also promoted by the Vatican and runs courses especially tailored to Roman Catholics!
HTB’s website states:
Alpha continues to impact the Catholic Church worldwide…
“An Alpha course is one of the great ways at the present time in which people can gather together to learn from one another, to share with one another, and to deepen in their knowledge and love of Jesus Christ himself.” Cardinal Keith O’Brien (Archbishop of Edinburgh and St. Andrews)
Why not grab a cuppa and take a moment to watch the short film below, which shows how Alpha is being used as a tool for the new evangelisation within the Catholic Church. This film features Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher to the papal household, Marc de Leyritz, founder of Alpha France, as well as further Catholic leaders, course leaders and guests from around the world. 14
In the Article, The Alpha Course—“Another Charismatic Deception” the author points out:
The course is supposed to be an introduction to the Christian faith, so it ought to concentrate on salvation. However, the course only devotes the first two units to this. The rest are concerned with how to live the Christian life – according to charismatic teaching and not according to scripture!
God calls those who are lost. But, the course teaches that we go and find God! The total opposite. The course is said to be for those who are ‘interested in the Church’. That is Biblical nonsense: evangelism preaches God’s message of salvation to those who are ‘dead in their sins’. God ‘quickens’ (makes alive) those who will be saved, and then they respond… NOT to the ‘Church’, but to God Himself! Once saved, a person automatically becomes part of the Church, so the stated aim of the Course is meaningless.
The worst feature of the course is given in one of its principles: “Evangelism is integrally related to the supernatural display of the power of the Holy Spirit.” Or, to put it in plain language, the course leads a person toward the objective of experiencing ‘manifestations’ and ‘gifts’ , etc. That is, TB-style! The ‘Holy Spirit’ part does NOT refer to salvation and the power of God to save, but to the TB-style manifestations that have so torn-apart churches already! 15
The Alpha Course is NOT TRUE to the Bible
Quoted from: The Gospel Standard Published by the Peoples Gospel Hour
We now hear that Cardinal Keeler of Baltimore has said that his archdiocese has found the Alpha Course very useful for leading non-Roman Catholics to their churches. “Those who complete the ALPHA course are ready and eager to take part in the small communities that are forming in parishes – ready and eager to learn more about our Church and her sacraments and to evangelize others.”
In England, Roman Catholic Bishop Griffiths of Hexham and Newcastle stated, “We want to evangelize, but we don’t seem to have found the right method. I think that the ALPHA course offers easily the best method so far invented.”
These commendation by Roman clergy underline the fact that the ALPHA Course is helping Rome to spread her pernicious influence and to lure people to embrace her soul-destroying errors. If the ALPHA Course was scripturally sound, Rome would have nothing to do with it. Churches which claim to be Reformed and Protestant are belying their profession when they make use of it. 16
The Dangers of the Alpha Course
The Alpha Course, though teaching some truth, also lays truth alongside error. The wooing of people using the gospel message, only to later enslave them in ritualism, works salvation, and occult manifestations is one of the great deceptions of our time. One of the cleverest ploys of the enemy in our day is to allow “unprincipled” men to use the salvation message as an enticment to unsuspecting and untrained people, while they secretly introduce false doctrine, thereby giving “the devil a foothold” for fleshly manifestations and temptations in their lives. The men who designed this course are laying error alongside truth, introducing error secretly (“pareisaxousinin” in Greek) the result of which will ruin the faith of the believer in the end. The Bible says of this process:
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them–bringing swift destruction on themselves.” (2 Pet. 2:1) 17
On page 93 we read:
…but the fact that people in your immediate circle of friends don’t believe God’s story doesn’t mean that it is any less true. It just means that those of us who believe it have not communicated it in an effective way.
The inference here is that the reason that people do not believe the Gospel is because believers are not communicating the message in an effective way. The Bible states that: it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. (1 Corinthians 1:21) and that the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
The authors of the book already established that, as far as they are concerned, people will come to be interested in Jesus when they realise that He understands them and can meet their needs. That the more Jesus is real in our lives, the more real he becomes to those who know us. (Page 18)
Yet in the Bible we read that though Jesus walked the Earth and although He gathered thousands of followers most of them would leave Him and reject Him!
From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. (John 6:66)
In fact the very same people that welcomed Him into Jerusalem on the first day of the week were calling for Him to be crucified just a few days later.
Man by his very nature hates God and has no interest in the things of the spirit:
The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Psalm 14:2-3)
As we have already seen from the scriptures, God separated Himself from man because of sin. The only means by which this gap could be bridged was by Jesus Christ coming into this world and offering Himself up as a ransom for our sins. His death on the cross being the means by which we are reconciled to God:
For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10)
The authors assume that we have time to build a relationship with people and that, over time, we will be able to convince people about Jesus. Sadly we cannot assume that we will have such a luxury! We cannot afford to assume that either we, or our neighbour, are going to be around long enough for us to build such a close relationship. So many factors can come into play: we (or they) could die, could move away, so many factors.
The Holy Spirit tells us:
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. (2 Timothy 4:2)
This means that we should not wait until “we feel it is right” to share the Gospel!
Our responsibility is to share what we know to be true and let the listener decide whether they accept it or not! Christ taught a parable about seed being sown. The seed was broadcast abroad and landed on various types of soil. Only that which landed on good soil bore fruit. (Luke 8:5-15)
So it is with the gospel. The message is to be preached to everyone, but it will only bare fruit in the lives of those that believe it. The rest will either reject it out of hand or they will receive it for a time but, because they love this present world more, it will not bare fruit unto eternal life in them. Yet others will not endure because of fear of being ridiculed or even persecuted!
Most churches have, sadly, given up on the idea of evangelism. They see the prevailing animosity towards Gospel preachers and, because of it, they are ashamed of the Gospel. They equate effectiveness with how many converts they can get. However, as Paul stated;
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Unless people are persuaded of the dire nature of their predicament before God they will not turn to Him that they might be saved, and unless we (as believers) are not convinced of the dire nature of the world’s predicament before God we will never feel constrained to share the Gospel!
Spurgeon once said:
Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you’re not saved yourself, be sure of that!
We only act in accordance with what we actually believe. If we do not believe the Gospel we surely will not share it with others.
Why do we withhold the Gospel from others? Two reasons—we either do not really know the Gospel or, we don’t love Christ enough to share it:
Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46)
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (John 14:21)
Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8-9)
4 Graham, Just As I Am, p. 163.