Saddleback and its Meulenberg dilemma

It’s always heartbreaking when we hear of Christian leaders being charged with sexual abuse, as in the recent arrest of Saddleback youth worker Ruben Meulenberg. He was charged with 5 felonies:

  • Three felony counts of lewd acts on a child
  • Two felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14-year-old

We urge our readers to pray for the victims and their families.

Staff worker or volunteer?

Saddleback cautiously put out a statement, and called Meulenberg a “student ministry volunteer.” Here is the full statement.  However, Lighthouse Trails has since learned that Ruben Meulenberg is not merely a volunteer at Saddleback – he is also a staff member. The man and his twin brother serve on staff at Saddleback Church in the technology, communication and marketing ministries, according to LHT’s sources.

Lighthouse states,

If indeed Ruben Meulenberg is a staff member and one with a significant role in youth ministry at the mega church, then the statement released by Saddleback on May 26th has downplayed or minimized Meulenberg’s role at the church. (source)

The volunteer status is now a part of the official court record. Does it matter if his position is paid or unpaid? Is there a culpability factor? Additional details are here, along with the access Meulenberg had to children in his staff position.

That name…

If the name Meulenberg sounds familiar, it may be because his parents have long been on Saddleback’s payroll as staff members. His father, Abraham Meulenberg, was a pastor heading up Interfaith Outreach. You may remember the news publicity around his involvement with Rick Warren’s efforts to form alliances with the Muslim community in Orange County several years ago (which Saddleback denied).

Later, I was doing some research on the elder Meulenberg, and discovered that he and his wife were actually teaching the false “Kingdom Circles” doctrine at a P.E.A.C.E. Plan seminar in France. The Kingdom Circles teaching states that Muslims do not need to convert to Christianity – that they can remain Muslim – and still be in the Kingdom of God. You can see the K.O.G lesson plan behind Meulenberg in this photo:

Lighthouse Trails will continue to follow this story. You can also check out, 5 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Kids From Sexual Predators .


20 Responses to Saddleback and its Meulenberg dilemma

  1. Manny1962 June 10, 2017 at 3:40 pm #

    Does anyone expect Saddleback to state the truth?

  2. Shannon Brown June 10, 2017 at 4:29 pm #

    First I would like to say God Bless you all for speaking the Truth and being a light in these dark times. Indeed many wolves have entered and have divided and hurt the body of Christ. A few years back (1998) when God pulled me from my own demise and showed me His Truth through His Word I attended for a few short months North Coast Calvary in Carlsbad .ca. I remember being very uncomfortable and was wondering why the pastor of this large church would talk and talk about how wonderful his sons were because they were becoming famous (the so called Christian rock band switchfoot) and that they needed more money for their 8million dollar church and so on all the while I was asking for spiritual woman’s group which they ignored me and said that they were too busy? Well last week on the news their youth pastor who is 42 years old was arrested for the very same thing at saddleback church!! I do believe that judgement begins in the house of the Lord and that God is showing us the underbelly of these wayward churches who have turned their backs on the True and Living God and HIS word. What a blessing you all have been to me and my house we truly love you all at bereanresearch so much. I came out of Calvary chapel during pastor Chuck Smith’s era early 90s for me and it has been split,fractured in two and so many hurt by allowing the wolves to enter into their flocks. In the Name of JESUS CHRIST I pray that more people will have eyes to see and ears to hear God’s true and unchanging word. For God says what He means and means what He says. Thank you God Bless and protect us all. Shannon Brown.

  3. john walton June 10, 2017 at 10:12 pm #

    this is sad on so many levels.
    first and foremost for the victims and their families. something like this happening to their most loved at a place they feel they can trust. it’s devastating.
    second for the meulenberg family. i can’t fathom why you would attack them for what ever they were teaching at some remote place of the world years back – at least not in this context. imaging your kid would do something like this. it’s God’s job to judge, not ours. you sound an awful lot like modern day pharisee.
    third for the church. this isn’t only affecting saddleback but any church. i’m attending a relatively small church but i admire the work God is doing through saddleback church – despite the flaws they may have (btw, i know what volunteers at staff have to go through before working with kids so security checks isn’t one of those). they are jesus’ followers as we are. so it’s all HIS work. it’s our brothers and sisters, so how dare we to attack them. we need to love, pray and support them in this difficult time as well as the victims.

    • Sola Scriptura June 11, 2017 at 8:42 pm #

      Saddleback teaches a false, ecumenical message and they are not confronting sin in their sermons. Sin is the very reason Jesus came to earth, and he paid for our sins with his blood. Any church that doesn’t teach the pure gospel message, and seeks to build bridges with false religions. As for judgement, Jesus told us we are supposed to judge, just not hypocritically (see John 7:24). Paul also addressed false teachers in the body many, many times. Here are a few:

      “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.”
      ‭‭Romans‬ ‭16:17-18‬ ‭KJV‬‬

      “…“Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;”
      ‭‭Titus‬ ‭1:13‬ ‭KJV

      “A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject;”
      ‭‭Titus‬ ‭3:10‬ ‭KJV‬‬

    • David Knowles June 14, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

      @john walton I couldn’t agree with you more.

      Let’s be clear sin is sin. My heart goes out to the families involved. We are to hate sin.

      However let’s also be very very clear about where we are in this process. Ruben has been accused. It doesn’t mean he is guilty. Innocent until proven guilty. I suggest the finger pointers and the gossip mongers wait for the result of the trial before drawing any conclusions. (Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against a brother or sister or judges them speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it’. James 4:11). Slander is when you spread stories and imply guilt about someone you don’t have all the facts about.
      I pray the truth comes out as quickly as possible.

      What I find disgusting is the glee and venom with which haters love to gloat at the downfall of others. King David mourned the death of Saul and Absalom because even though they were his enemies he still loved them. Jesus says ‘love your enemies’.
      However I see brothers hating each other, simply because their doctrine disagrees. Disgusting. (Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. 1 John 3:15)

      A message to the righteous amongst us — use your anger and pain to reach the lost, to serve the helpless, to comfort the hurting. Brothers waste so much time focusing on how everyone else is wrong, justifying themselves in the name of their doctrinal & scriptural prowess. Revolting.
      There is enough work to be done fighting the good fight — spreading the GOOD NEWS.

      Be careful what & who you are fighting: (

      • lyn June 23, 2017 at 10:59 am #

        “What I find disgusting is the glee and venom with which haters love to gloat at the downfall of others.” Who here has done this?!? False accusations seem to fly when wolves are exposed. Sexual sin is a huge problem within protestant churches, and the reason is the same as in the RCC – unregenerate leaders.

        “However I see brothers hating each other, simply because their doctrine disagrees.” Again, where is this displayed on this thread? IF you do not hate false doctrine, you need to examine yourself. Shallow Christianity permeates this nation, everyone is a ‘Christian’ because they say they are. Yet, they have no desire for truth, or to defend truth. Instead, they attack and falsely accuse all who expose wolves, calling them ‘unloving, judgmental, pharisees’. These are the standard responses when one cannot back their accusation with God’s word.

        The true elect of God will make NO apologies for standing firm on His truth, regardless of what the lukewarm crowd says.

    • lyn June 23, 2017 at 10:52 am #

      ” i can’t fathom why you would attack them for what ever they were teaching at some remote place of the world years back – at least not in this context. imaging your kid would do something like this. it’s God’s job to judge, not ours. you sound an awful lot like modern day pharisee.” So, you do not take issue with false teaching? Christ warned about false teachers, and you claim warning today is ‘modern day pharisee’? You defend what God hates and despises – false teachings that lead sinners away from the Christ of the bible. Warren and his followers push ecumenism, which will lead to the one world church in the end time.
      You accuse others of judging, are you not doing the same thing with your accusations?
      Biblical support should be provided when one seeks to correct.

      Warren is a false teacher, a wolf in sheep’s clothing. I recall in his inaugural prayers during Obama’s administration, he prayed to ‘Isa’. Do you know who ‘Isa’ is?
      ‘There are two main sources for ‘Isa, the Muslim Jesus. The Qur’an gives a history of his life, whilst the Hadith collections — recollections of Muhammad’s words and deeds — establish his place in the Muslim understanding of the future.

      The Qur’an

      ‘Isa, was a prophet of Islam

      Jesus’ true name, according to the Qur’an, was ‘Isa. His message was pure Islam, surrender to Allah. (Âl ‘Imran 3:84) Like all the Muslim prophets before him, and like Muhammad after him, ‘Isa was a lawgiver, and Christians should submit to his law. (Âl ‘Imran 3:50; Al-Ma’idah 5:48) ‘Isa’s original disciples were also true Muslims, for they said ‘We believe. Bear witness that we have surrendered. We are Muslims.’ (Al-Ma’idah 5:111)

      They also teach that Jesus was a prophet, the son of Mary, but NOT the son of God. They claim ‘Allah has no son!’. Yet, Warren prays to this non-existent ‘jesus’?!?

      Those who have been born from above by God will NOT defend what God hates, false teachers.

  4. John McIntyre June 12, 2017 at 7:25 am #

    To John Walton: I appreciate the conciliatory spirit in your response. However, Jesus did say “If any one of you causes one of these little ones to stumble (those who believe in me) it would be better for them to have a large millstone tied around his neck and to be drowned into the depths of the sea.” Mathew 18:6. Those are strong words. Yes, there but for the grace go I. But this is a HUGE offense and sin. You cannot downplay this in any way. Its really bad.

    • john walton June 14, 2017 at 12:08 am #

      @john mcintyre
      it is bad. it’s sad. it’s a sin. period.
      same is true for christians and churches going at each other in a situation like that.

      @sola scriptura
      you realize that ecumenical is a core characteristic of the early church as there was just one and as you can read in acts and in paul’s letters three were differences in interpretations of jesus’ teaching.
      also, your comments about sbc suggest you’ve never been there. i have friends who came to christ there because they were confronted – in love.
      jesus was and is known for what he stands for, not or what he opposes. i wish i could say the same about us…

  5. Manny1962 June 14, 2017 at 9:31 am #

    Ecumenism today is not what it was in the early church! Ecumenism then was between the original seven churches, which some were failures such as Laodicea, which Jesus rebukes in Revelation, which is what today’s Churchianity emulates. Rick Warren’s ecumenism is holding his hand out to Rome. Which is not a denomination, but a different Jesus and a different Gospels, corrupt to the core and antichristian.

    Jesus Christ is very well known for what He opposes! If He weren’t known for that He wouldn’t be hated as much as He is! John 15:18

    Ecumenism today is between the Harlot church and the world. Not the bride of Christ.

    As for article, to harm a child one of God’s little ones is a heinous sin………it is alarming, perplexing and quite depressing. There are red flags with Saddleback, from theology on down, I would advice anyone there to leave as quickly as possible.

  6. john walton June 19, 2017 at 1:51 pm #

    i don’t know if i’m more disheartened by the incident or the discourse about it above. we’re turning into modern day pharisees preaching at each other without realizing it. where’s the love of jesus that makes us stand apart?

    • lyn June 23, 2017 at 11:09 am #

      How loving was Christ concerning sin? Did He overlook and embrace the self righteous Pharisees? Or did He pronounce woes on them and call them hypocrites and white washed tombs? Did He tell the woman at the well it was okay to be a harlot, and He loved her anyway? No, He did not.
      Here’s the problem, your ‘jesus’ is all one-sided, he’s all love love love. You do not know the God that is thrice holy, filled with wrath and will avenge His righteousness and holy name. The ‘jesus’ most adhere to looks nothing like the Christ of the bible, your ‘jesus’ looks more like you and is palatable to you because you’ve formed him out of your own thoughts. You take a verse or two from God’s word and build your own ‘god’, then you use your ‘god’ as a club to attack the true elect of the sovereign, holy, mighty, merciful God of Scripture. Then you have the audacity to come here and unleash your rants against God’s people!

      You need to cry out, as the tax collector did, for God’s mercy. You need to remember that no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again, or born from above, by the supernatural work of God the Spirit. Lastly, you need to refrain from falsely accusing the brethren and misconstruing what is being said/exposed. Discernment is a gift from God, may He grant it to you, along with the new birth.

  7. Manny1962 June 19, 2017 at 3:21 pm #

    John we are not being pharasaic, the love of Jesus compels us to warn others of those preaching a false gospel! We cannot compromise truth on the altar of “love.” Roman Catholicism is a different gospel and a different Jesus! Something that Rick Warren, the founder of Saddleback has accepted and put his arms around! What sets Christians apart from the world is an undying love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit! As they are revealed in the word of God! The complete counsel of God. Given the times we live in and such a great apostasy round about it would be unloving and un-Christlike if we were to stop warning about the dangers in Churchianity.

  8. john walton June 20, 2017 at 5:44 pm #

    “we cannot compromise truth on the altar of “love.” hmmm, sounds an awful lot like the mindset of the scholars in the new testament who jesus took apart because the followed the letter but not the spirit of the law. you may not have 613 of those but you still put a set of rules at the center of your faith, draw a circle around it and call everybody outside an apostate instead of putting jesus at the center.
    so back to the origin of this post: what happened here is wrong, tragic and despicable. but the reaction to it (accusing the family, attacking brothers and sisters from another church) is disturbing mean spirited and unloving. the way we christians treat each other in situations like this is shameful and saddening.

    • lyn June 23, 2017 at 11:15 am #

      “what happened here is wrong, tragic and despicable. but the reaction to it (accusing the family, attacking brothers and sisters from another church)” – who attacked the family? Who attacked anyone from another church?

      While your accusations fly and you unbridle your tongue {in this case, fingers} your unwarranted accusations fly based on your worldly anger. You are fired up because why? Because a false teacher has been exposed, because a member of a family has taught falsely….and you defend that? Strange

      The visible church is riddled with goats who paint a god of their own understanding, based on what they want their god to be. In most cases, their god is all lovey dovey, we dare not speak out about the vileness of sinners, or the command to repent of vileness and cry out for mercy to save. The basic essential doctrines of the bible are ignored because they are ‘too unloving’, ‘too judgmental’. The goats attack the sheep and go off on tirades because their man made fleshly ‘god’ is so loving, and the elect are ‘so judgmental’!

      Let us never apologize to goats for exposing wolves.

  9. Manny1962 June 20, 2017 at 6:50 pm #

    “sounds an awful lot like the mindset of the scholars in the new testament who jesus took apart because the followed the letter but not the spirit of the law.”

    It is sad you can’t see the difference between a Pharisee and a Berean, John. Obviously the perpatrator’s family is not to be held in contempt because of what a family member did, everyone is responsible for their own actions. Saddleback the institution, the leaders, and it’s theology is compromised and corrupt, irrespective of the crime committed.

  10. john walton June 22, 2017 at 4:57 pm #

    doesn’t matter to me what name you choose for yourself. if you call a church and it’s leaders who are clearly used by God “compromised and corrupt” you disqualify yourself. jesus didn’t promote dogma but relationship with his father and others. the new testament (you’re a scripture guy) clearly states it’s not your theology God is interested in but your heart. i’m not the judge but the statements you make aren’t good indicators.

    • berlorac June 22, 2017 at 5:15 pm #

      [it’s not your theology God is interested in but your heart.]

      john, understanding doctrine is the only way we can know for sure that we’re saved and that our hearts are inclined to the God of the Bible and not some imaginary god. Yes, God wants your heart, but it is through the Scriptures, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that He changes your heart and mind.

    • lyn June 23, 2017 at 11:22 am #

      “if you call a church and it’s leaders who are clearly used by God “compromised and corrupt” you disqualify yourself. jesus didn’t promote dogma but relationship with his father and others. the new testament (you’re a scripture guy) clearly states it’s not your theology God is interested in but your heart.” Now, where does Christ say doctrine does not matter? Where does God say we are never to seek His wisdom? Quite the contrary, we are to ‘grow in the knowledge and grace’ of our Lord – 2 Peter 3:18, or this, from 2 Peter 1:8  ‘For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ’.  How does one’s knowledge of Christ increase if one does NOT study the scriptures?!? This is the new age false teaching – doctrine is not important right? Keep ’em dumbed down and stupid, that way they will be easily deceived. Well, this is a lie from the pit of hell.

      May God have mercy and grant you spiritual ears to hear and eyes to see….

  11. Darrel June 24, 2017 at 1:48 pm #

    Mr. Walton,

    You are so quick to defend a man and his system, a man who by his own words hates the Lord Jesus Christ. How many years ago was it that he tried to force down the throat of the Church that “Chrislam” was a viable and legitimate off-shoot of Christianity and that all believer should welcome with open (and loving) arms the muslims, for after all, we all worship the same god, don’t we? The nasty fact is that muslims deny Christ, His Deity, His death and resurrection for the sins of the elect, and so on. Redacted from the mind and vocabulary of people such as yourself is the fact that you can lay no claim to loving God the Father and by-pass the Lord Jesus Christ (read with understanding John 8:42 if you are able). Because this false prophet speaks of “love” (a love that is no where to be found in the Scriptures) and speaks fluent Christianese, you naturally and ignorantly assume that he must be speaking for God. Not so! An honest and more careful investigation of Warren’s words will readily expose him for the fraud that he is. Blind allegiance to this charlatan is wide spread, as your own words attest. Today is a good day to repent of this evil.

Leave a Reply