The Navigators . . . Psychoheresy & Ecumenism
To read, disciple, and equip people to know Christ and
to make Him known through successive generations."
That is the stated mission of The Navigators, a Christian
organization headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In addition, they use the expression, "To know
Christ and to make Him known." The U.S.
International Ministries Group, which is the missions
branch of the U. S. Navigators says, "We serve 425
American staff in 62 countries," and, "We also
have links to countries where our non-American staff are
ministering, giving you opportunities to serve in a total
of 105 countries."
As The Navigators describe their history and their
current work, one will be impressedunless the
psychologizing of the faith (psychoheresy) and rank
ecumenism are important issues. Through their involvement
in both psychoheresy and ecumenism, The Navigators
organization has drifted drastically off course.
The Navigators organization has been deeply involved
in psychoheresy in two primary ministry efforts. The
first is through books published by NavPress, which is
The Navigators publishing arm; the second is
through their recruitment and care of missionaries.
The Navigators has demonstrated a love for psychology
through NavPress books. An enormous amount of writing
would be necessary to critique all the books produced by
NavPress that involve psychoheresy, self-esteem,
12-steps, and other aberrant and heretical teachings.
Some of the major psychoheresy in the church has
originated from NavPress with such authors as Dan
Allender, Gary Collins, Larry Crabb, and Robert Hicks, to
name a few.
Two prime examples of psychoheresy would be books by
Larry Crabb and Robert Hicks. Probably Crabbs best
known and most popular book is Inside Out,
published by NavPress. This book has been a prime source
of the psychologizing of the faith.
In his earlier books Crabb uses the word unconscious
directly and explains its hidden nature and power for
motivation. In Inside Out he relies on
metaphors and descriptive phrases such as
"heart," "core," "beneath the
surface," "hidden inner regions of our
soul," "dark regions of our soul,"
"beneath the waterline," "underlying
motivation," "hidden purpose," and
"reservoir of their self-protective energy."
The very title Inside Out suggests the
Freudian notion of the unconscious. Crabb clearly
presents the unconscious as a real and powerful part of
every person. He also suggests that doctrines of the
unconscious are indispensable to the church! The many
problems with Inside Out have been
documented by other writers and us. Yet, in spite of its
unbiblical teachings, NavPress continues to offer it.
Since the writing of Inside Out, Crabb
has written other books and spoken publicly about
counseling and the church. In each instance that we have
investigated, it is clear that Crabb still supports his
past books, his psychologized model of "biblical
counseling," counseling for pay, and the ungodly and
unbiblical American Association of Christian Counselors.
The other example of a psychoheretical book published
by NavPress is The Masculine Journey (TMJ)
by Robert Hicks. TMJ is not only filled with
psychoheresy, but is also riddled with blasphemy and
heresy. The publication of TMJ in 1993 was
originally cosponsored by Promise Keepers. Thus, our
critique of TMJ titled Promise Keepers &
PsychoHeresy could as well have been titled The
Navigators and PsychoHeresy. PK has discontinued
supporting the book, but NavPress continues to advertise
and sell the book. Hicks has responded to our critique
and we have responded to him. (See Materials Sheet.)
Hickss book is not based solely on the Bible,
but rather on his own personal experience of what it
means to be a man. He forms arbitrary stages, in which to
place his own personal experience and subjective
psychological notions. By giving biblical labels to these
stages and mixing in some biblical truth, he makes it
appear that the Bible validates everything he says about
Hicks recalls six Hebrew words he learned in seminary.
Miraculously each word just happens to fit one of
Hickss contrived stages of manhood. One of the six
Hebrew words for one of Hickss stages of manhood is
zakar. One acid test we have given pastors for the
book is to ask them to preach a message in graphic detail
from TMJ, particularly from Chapter 3, "The
Phallic Man Zakar." It is our belief
that any pastor who preaches it the way it is written
would be dismissed from his pastorate.
Hicks contends that "this word [zakar]
reflects the phallic male in his distinct sexual
aspect" (TMJ, p. 24). He says, "To be
male is to be a phallic kind of guy, and as men we should
never apologize for it, or allow it to be denigrated by
women (or crass men either)" (p. 24). He also
identifies Jesus as being "very much zakar,
phallic" and says, "I believe Jesus was phallic
with all the inherent phallic passions we experience as
men" (TMJ, p. 181).
The phrase "a phallic kind of guy" brings
forth images of Greek paganism rather than biblical
manhood. That is exactly the direction Hicks takes his
readers. To emphasize the connection between sexuality
and spirituality, Hicks refers to various pagan artifacts
and practices as well as biblical circumcision. He says,
"The phallus has always been the symbol of religious
devotion and dedication" (TMJ, p. 51).
Hicks reduces the biblical definition of manhood to
one body part. He says, "The Bible simply defines
manhood by the phallus" (TMJ, p. 49). As a
matter of fact, Christianity has nothing to do with the
phallus as a symbol of manhood. Paul even called those
who insisted on circumcising new believers as preaching
another (not the same) gospel. Why does Hicks want to
introduce the phallus into Christianity? He says,
"We are called to worship God as phallic kinds of
guys, not as some sort of androgynous, neutered nonmales,
or the feminized males so popular in many
feminist-enlightened churches" (TMJ, p. 51).
Hicks declares: "I believe until the church sees
men for what they are, phallic males with all their
inherent spiritual tensions, it will not begin to reach
men where they are living" (TMJ, p. 55). He
contends that mens sexual problems (including
"sexual addictions," pornography, and adultery)
"reveal how desperate we are to express, in some
perverted form, the deep compulsion to worship with our
phallus" (TMJ, p. 56). But his analysis of
the situation is driven by psychological notions. He
fails to give any solid biblical support that every man
has a "deep compulsion to worship with [his]
phallus." Many other problems exist in the book,
which we have previously noted.
If The Navigators were truly a Bible-centered
organization and if they truly cared for the doctrines
and practices of the faith, they would never have
published Hickss book in the first place. Moreover,
they would have removed all of their books that contain
psychoheresy and issued an apology, a repudiation, and
even a warning. However, one look at the most recent
NavPress catalog reveals just the opposite.
The love for psychology can be seen throughout
Navigators. That love is not restricted to NavPress, but
permeates the very core, being embraced by administrators
and missionaries alike. The leaders are proud of their
recruitment of missionaries, even though they use two
questionable psychological tests, as well as a
psychological evaluation by a Ph.D. psychologist, in
examining candidates for missionary work. The Navigators
are also proud of the psychological way they take care of
their missionaries on the field. If a Navigators
missionary is having personal or family problems on the
field, Navigators sends a psychologist to the field to
give psychological assistance.
Such reliance on psychological tests, psychological
evaluations, and psychological counseling communicates
little confidence in the Word of God or in the power of
the Holy Spirit. There is no good reason to involve
psychological tests, psychological evaluations, or
psychological counseling in recruiting or caring for
missionaries. For both biblical and scientific reasons,
expressed in our many books, such use of psychology is
The Navigators have ecumenically compromised in a
number of ways. We will give only a few examples, but
more could easily be given.
Promise Keepers. We and others have written and
criticized the Promise Keepers (PK) for both its rank
ecumenism and psychoheresy. Terry Taylor, President, and
The Navigators have been strongly supportive of PK. An
eight-page letter supporting The Masculine Journey
(TMJ) is no longer sent out by PK, and PK has
asked that their logo be removed from TMJ.
Earlier, when the letter of support was available through
PK, Taylor was also sending it out to individuals. In
addition, Taylor has referred to "the overwhelmingly
positive influence Promise Keepers is having on men in
our society." Taylor also refers to the PK movement
as "a remarkable work of God in our time." In
further support of PK, NavPress has also published
another PK book, What Makes a Man by Bill
Renovare. Richard Foster is the author of Celebration
of Discipline (Harper & Row), which is filled
with psychoheresy and Eastern meditative techniques.
Foster is also the codirector of Renovare, which is a
highly mystical and broadly ecumenical approach to
spirituality. The extent of the problems with Renovare is
documented in a "Special Report on Renovare" by
Albert James Dager of Media Spotlight. The
Navigators sponsored a Richard Foster conference at Glen
Eyrie and sent announcements to those on their own
(Navigators) mailing list.
Covenant of Mutual Respect. This is a covenant
signed by a diversity of religious leaders in the
Colorado Springs area, including a Rabbi, a Bishop, James
Dobson, and Terry Taylor of The Navigators. The
dictionary defines covenant as "a binding and
solemn agreement made by two or more individuals,
parties, etc. to do or keep from doing a specified thing;
compact." Two of the sentences from the
"Covenant" are: "The diversity of our
religious perspectives may lead us into areas of possible
disagreement. It is our hope to address those areas of
difference with an attitude of openness, respect and
love, and a willingness to listen and learn from each
other to the end that we may manifest the ministry of
reconciliation" (The Catholic Herald 6/2/93).
NavPress Authors. A review of NavPress books
will demonstrate how broadly ecumenical they are willing
to be The following are two examples:
A House United by Keith Fournier. Fournier
"claims to be both fully evangelical and fully
Catholic" (see The Berean Call, February
1991). Fournier is a leading Catholic apologist and
listed as one of the signers of the Evangelicals and
Catholics Together. The Navigators refer to this book as:
"A plea for evangelicals and Catholics to form a
winning alliance for the 21st century."
Gospel According to Judas by Ray Anderson. The
endorsement by M. Scott Peck should be enough to warn any
reader. Dave Hunt says, "Peck, though his books are
highly praised by some evangelical leaders, is a blatant
New Ager who, though he deceives many with
Christian terminology, denies the essentials
of the faithas does professor Anderson in Judas.
The book is heretical from beginning to end" (see The
Berean Call, January 1996).
A call to NavPress reveals that these two books are
now out-of-print, but the question remains why were they
We have discussed The Navigators with some former
contributors and the following are some additional
comments: (1) The Navigators organization is not what it
used to be years ago. (2) The Navigators organization has
admitted making mistakes over the years, but the leaders
do not identify these mistakes except in euphemistic
terms. (3) The Navigators organization does not publicly
repudiate its past errors nor repent of them. (4) If one
surveyed The Navigators missionaries, one would
find the same embracing of rank ecumenism and
psychoheresy. The missionaries for The Navigators are
merely a reflection of the problems presented above.
It is sad to see so many well intentioned
organizations go astray. We have seen that the twin
cancers of psychologism and ecumenism tend to invade and
engulf together. That is why we urge all Christians to
behave like the noble Bereans who "received the word
with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures
daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11).