Controversy at Cornerstone 2006

10:35 pm | Uncategorized

As folks know, recently I attended the Cornerstone Music Festival in Bushnell, IL. Since I needed a vacation badly, and the thought of spending a few days with my parents in Kansas City, MO before heading the the festival was appealing to me, I left Dallas on June 30 for a chance to relax and unwind a bit.

Among other things, I wanted to hear Lo-Ruhamah, a band that one of my friends has been promoting. The name Lo-Ruhamah comes from Hosea and translates as ‘God will not have mercy’, in response to the LORD’s displeasure of Israel following after other gods. A number of the seminars also caught my attention - specifically I wanted to hear John Morehead in person and try to get a chance to talk with him. He is, after all, one of the more controversial figures within the apologetics community, so I wanted to hear his views directly rather than merely what other people had said about his views. Lastly, of course, I wanted to know what people thought of the emerging church - was it really as pervasive in this Christian subculture as it was thought to be, or was the size and scope being overstated? What concerns, if any, would folks have with the emerging church?

Fortunately, when I did arrive at Cornerstone as the Evangelical spy, I was able to use my real name and identity without incident. This is good because using the name “Latisha Luna” or “Lain Iwakora” would probably have raised some eyebrows ;) Most of the time I was there was spent trying to keep cool and out of the sun, so I hopped from lecture tent to lecture tent, taking notes, handouts, and copies of articles wherever possible. On Thursday I arrived at the Imaginarium for the beginning of a variety of festivities there. On Friday, I visited other tents, most notably the CBE “Gender Revolution” tent, and spoke with a couple of folks there. By Friday evening, several days of sleeping outdoors and extreme heat had worn me down, and instead of sticking it out, having accomplished most of the goals of my reconnaissance mission, I decided to leave. I had not had the opportunity to speak with John Morehead directly, but I could make up for that later.

Although I had my own concerns and gripes about Cornerstone, it wasn’t until I left that I realized how controversial Cornerstone was going to become. First, this article titled “‘Days of the Dead’ at Cornerstone ‘Christian’ Youth Camp” by Dwayna Litz on the Christian Worldview Network, and this companion post on her blog at Lighting the Way outlining in detail many of the same things I witnessed firsthand. This led a series of posts: “Jesus People?” pictures from Cornerstone, “Comment on Cornerstone” (by yours truly, noting the fact that all descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in Dwayna’s article are accurate), “Another Observation about Cornerstone Festival” commenting on licentious antinomianism, and “Our Team” describing the crew of folks with Dwayna.

This led to an article on Slice of Laodicea, “Cornerstone Festival Introduces Occult to Teens,” precipitating a small deluge of posts, including comments by one of Cornerstone’s organizers, Lint Hatcher, and several comments by John Morehead. (Oddly, my comments were moderated and not posted.) Lint Hatcher wrote an extended response to many of the concerns that were expressed, that has been posted on the Slice of Laodicea blog, “Cornerstone Organizer Responds to Slice Article.” Expect Slice of Laodicea to post a response shortly.

It is important to note that Slice of Laodicea dramatically overstates what actually happened at the Imaginarium. Most of the artwork at the Imaginarium was chosen because of its association with the chosen topic, namely understanding how Christians and various cultures deal with the reality of death, it was not particularly occultic except in perhaps the most shallow cultural understanding. Likewise, the attempt to observe the Day of the Dead - while distant from the Mexican tradition and therefore anachronistic - was itself devoid of occultic elements. People were not conducting séances or attempting to communicate with the dead, but rather were using the time as a memorial for those who had passed on, and to celebrate life.

For more on this, John Morehead has posted a version his seminars on his blog, which does a good job of summarizing what he said. The first, “Imaginarium, Cornerstone, and Days of the Dead,” and “The West and the Rest: Where does their rage come from?” help clarify in greater detail what the intention of these events were.

Jon Trott, who put the effort into organizing the CBE’s “Gender Revolution”, posted a number of responses on his blog. In “Cornerstone Festival 2006 and the Fundamentalists,” Jon talks about the protesters that came bearing signs and pamphlets that the festival dishonors God. Unfortunately, I arrived late and did not see the protestors, though I have to admit that holding a sign that says “Antinomianism Sucks!” or “What Would Keith Green Do?” would have been entertaining :) Jon also talks about Dwayna Litz and his concerns there. Some other posts include: “Da Pix 2006: Cornerstone Festival and ‘Cornerstone yoU’,” “Cornerstone Festival and Christians for Biblical Equality,” “‘Discernment Ministry’? Dwayna Litz Defends Warnke and Stratford

Unfortunately, Jon Trott’s responses to events at Cornerstone is somewhat less than charitable, effectively putting Jon and Dwayna at odds with each other, generating more heat than light. In using the word ‘fundamentalist’, Jon also steps on one of my pet-peeves, using the word ‘fundamentalist’ flippantly as a word of derision, even calling Dwayna at one point an “ultra-fundamentalist”. It is disappointing that Jon Trott has responded to Dwayna Litz by going on the offensive against her. While peace and reconciliation were important themes at Cornerstone, particularly with the Christian Peacemaker Teams as speakers in the Cornerstone yoU tent, apparently peace and reconciliation still does not apply to Christians that we disagree with.

So this raises the question: was it wrong for Cornerstone organizers to host the activities that they did at the event? Let me be clear: No, it wasn’t wrong for them to organize the Imaginarium activities as they did. There is a general misunderstanding of Halloween, the Days of the Dead, horror cinema, and the links these do and do not have with the practices of witchcraft and the occult. Was it ill advised? Absolutely. Just because we as believers can do a certain thing does not imply that we should do that thing. While our modern tradition of Halloween has no substantial ties to any paganism or occultism, there remains a strong cultural association and perception of Halloween as occultism and anti-Christian. Christians should be cognizant of the negative cultural implications of partaking in cultural festivals and willingly refrain when appropriate. This is true also of “Christian” holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, as well as holidays that are currently understood in more secular terms, such as Valentine’s Day and Independence Day. The practice of the Days of the Dead is a Mexican tradition that is associated with Mexican culture, so for us from another culture to borrow that practice with new meanings and interpretations was, in my opinion, culturally insensitive and inappropriate.

Additionally, it continues to trouble me that Christians do not have a better grasp on esoterism and the occult. The occult is the great off-limit topic in Evangelical circles, and thus it is too greatly feared by Christians who have Jesus Christ living in their hearts, the One who is greater than the powers of darkness. On the other hand, there are many Evangelicals who long for spirituality in their Christian life and look towards soft mystical practices to complement their Christian life. Christians desperately need to develop a more robust view of Christian spirituality that is not so weak that it has to borrow spiritual practices of world religions to bring a sense of meaning to Christianity. During one of the lectures on St. Francis, I recall the speaker misinterpreting “Be still and know that I am God” as an affirmation of mystical practices (see here for a discussion on the context of Psalm 46:10). There is no need to syncretize esoterism and Christianity for Christians to be spiritually complete.

Despite what happened, or perhaps because of it, I am still glad that I opted to attend Cornerstone this year. There is more I could talk about, and certainly I have not worn out all of my concerns about the event, such as its growing commercialism, concerns about the CBE, the licentious and pervasive antinomianism, and of course the diminishing quality and creativity of music performed at the festival. I am sure that this post won’t make me popular with folks who are die-hard supporters of Cornerstone, but with my stack of CDs from The Violet Burning, Radial Angel, Stavesacre, and Lo-Ruhamah, I probably won’t be hearing their complaints very well :)



RSS feed for comments on this post

andrew (tall skinny kiwi)

Comment on July 24, 2006 @ 1:50 am


i was halfway through a blog post and came across your post - which has more links and thoughts than mine [well done]

i think i will finish off mine and point people over here. thanks

Kathleen Lundquist

Comment on July 30, 2006 @ 11:50 am

Hi there - just found your comments on the controversy. In case you’re interested, I also attended the Cornerstone Imaginarium this year, and my reactions to it are posted on my blog (, along with a fisk of Dwayna Litz’ original report.

I am a Roman Catholic, so I come at this from a little different angle. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, if you’re interested.


Trackback on March 14, 2007 @ 10:22 am



4 sp@mbots e-mail me