Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Awe-Inspiring Supernatural Eternal Adventures in Christ

 


 If you then be risen with Christ  seek those things which are above [1]

Colossians 3:1











[1] The context of Colossians 3:1 is Colossians 2:20-23, where believers are reminded that they are [or should be] dead to the principles of the systems and spirituality of the world, which identify with [and honor] things that have no eternal or relationship value when it comes to walking with Christ and growing as Christians.

Believer’s should set their hearts on higher things as they symbolically bury the old and die with Christ through baptism and rise to new life in an awe-inspiring, entirely supernatural, eternal adventure.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Contemplative Prayer Unites the Kansas City Prophets


 New Age Christianity Part Five

Start at the beginning. Read Part One  Jocelyn Andersen: New Age Christianity PART ONE


 The movement for Spiritual Formation is also spreading within Pentecostal and charismatic congregations and appears to have united the leaders of the Prophetic movement through the ministry of Mike Bickle, one of a small group of leaders who came to be known as the Kansas City Prophets.

   Bickle is a leader in the Prophetic movement and director of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Kansas City. Despite the fact that eastern forms of meditation cannot be found in scripture—except to forbid them—Bickle claims that God is restoring it to the Church.

   He claims that contemplative prayer is a God ordained means of entering into the fullness of God, and that the brightest lights in church history have been the Roman Catholic mystics. He goes on to say the “western church” has much to learn from the mystics.

   Anti-evangelical propaganda is prominent at Bickle’s meetings, and he shamelessly promotes an “us” and “them” mentality among his followers, pitting them against anyone who does not agree with his contemplative and prophetic message. During one of his conferences on contemplative prayer, Bickle stated that “Other Christians force us to hide our intensity, to wear a façade.”

   This is an example of how Bickle uses deliberately divisive tactics in binding adherents to him, turning Bible believing Christians into the devil of the prophetic and contemplative movements.

   Bickle’s attitude is not unusual among contemplative Christians.

   In her book, Out of the Cults and into the Church, Janis Hutchinson quoted Hoffer when she wrote, “Mass movements can rise and succeed without a belief in God . . . but never without a belief in a devil. This is because the strength of a mass movement is proportionate to the vividness and tangibility of its devil. When Hitler was asked whether he thought the Jew should be completely destroyed, he answered, ‘No . . . We have then to reinvent him.’ Hitler further explained that ‘It is essential to have a tangible enemy, not merely an abstract one.’”

   The “devil” of the prophetic and spiritual formation movements is the traditional Christian, often referred to as the “western” church. Bickle’s teaching fosters paranoia in his followers against anyone who disagrees with him. As Bickle promotes an “us” and “them” mentality which is cultishly exclusive, this also qualifies him as one who “sows discord among the brethren,”

   He comforted his followers with the good news that they did not need to wear façades while gathered at his meetings, which he calls “oasis.’”

   This leads to the obvious conclusion that when Bickle’s followers are around Christians who do not accept the spirituality he promotes, they practice deception by “wearing facades” to “hide their intensity,” whatever that means.

   This places Bickle and his followers in company with those who practice “Christian Witchery.” Christian witches wear facades and hide their true beliefs when around more traditional Christians. In lessons on Christian Witchery, one Norvecentian witch, Rawna Moon, instructed her neophytes to wear facades while attending church. Rawna Moon has since removed her Christian witchery website.

   Like those who practice Christian Witchery, Bickle and his followers deliberately use traditional terms to hide their true spirituality and contempt for biblical Christians so as not to alarm more traditional or evangelical Christians with their un-biblical teachings and practices.

   If Bickle’s prophetic and contemplative practices are scriptural, then why wear facades around those who are not familiar with what he truly teaches?

   Why be dishonest?

   At Bickle’s meetings, and other prophetic meetings similar to his, Bickle and his followers freely vent their feelings of spiritual superiority by openly ridiculing biblical Christians. In reference to the seductive experience of contemplative prayer, Bickle mounts an offensive against biblical Christianity by telling his followers, “They don’t grasp it at all!–being introduced into the deep realms of love (“deep realms of love” being one of his terms for contemplative prayer).”

   In defiance of scriptural censure against adopting eastern spirituality,[1] Bickle unashamedly pursues non-Christian, eastern, religious philosophies and has nothing but criticism for the unspiritual “western” Church.

   One indication that someone is being influenced, even indirectly, by contemplative teaching is when reference is made to the “western” church. 

   There is only one “Church,” and that is the mystical organism composed of all who belong to Jesus Christ. There is no eastern or western division within the true body of Christ. That division exists only between Roman Catholicism and the Eastern Greek Orthodox Religions. Eastern Orthodox Christians are also Catholic, just not Roman Catholic, and share all the idolatrous practices of Roman Catholicism.

   The doctrine of Roman Catholicism is contained within the Documents of the Vatican II, and a careful study of those documents reveals that salvation according to Romans 10:9-10,13 [2] cannot be found within Roman Catholic dogma. [3]    

   Visit any Greek Orthodox Church and you will find yourself standing inside of a very large idol. The shape and layout of the buildings themselves are highly and deliberately symbolic, filled with images, icons, and statues to be prayed to and venerated during their worship services.    

   According to Bickle, the majority of the truest and most enlightened Christians are Roman Catholic and that Roman Catholicism must be referenced if truth is to be found.

   Bickle believes that Protestant Christians are largely ignorant and spiritually blind. He claims the “Protestant wing” of the western church is only a tiny percentage of the Body of Christ and is nearly completely (98% he says) ignorant of the fact that the Holy Spirit is restoring contemplative prayer to the church. 

   Ignoring scriptural taboos against the use of imagery or the use of vain repetitions in prayer, he quotes repeatedly from the book, Sacred Pathways, which recommends carrying symbols or icons, choosing mantras, and visualizing God. Each of these things is commonly used in all forms of occult and witchcraft, and each of these things are forbidden to Jews and Christians.

   Bickle claims (in all earnestness) that the bookstore chain, Barnes & Nobles, is prophesying to the church. He says he believes this to be the case because the store has carried so many books on the mystics and contemplative prayer.

   He insists we need to study the lives and writings of the Roman Catholic mystics to walk in God’s fullness.

  Bickle wants to know why the entire church, not just himself and others who embrace eastern spirituality, is not picking up on the fact that God is calling the entire Body of Christ to live lifestyles of contemplative prayer.

   In the past, Bickle has seen Protestantism as a hindrance to the movement for contemplative prayer. Historically, this has been the case. Unfortunately, it is no longer the case.

   He claims the most inspiring light in all of Christianity came out of the Roman Catholic Church during the dark ages.

  Although no serious scholar or historian has ever made such a claim, Bickle says we have to dismantle (“we” meaning he and his followers) the idea that church history began with Martin Luther.

   In this, Bickle creates a non-existent conflict so he can provide his followers with a common enemy (or issue) to defend themselves against. This is standard tactic among all cult leaders.

   No Bible believing Christian has ever claimed that Church history began with Martin Luther.

   He minimizes the false doctrine and historic atrocities of the Roman Catholic Church.

   Speaking of the cruel torture and burning at the stake of those who refused to acknowledge the Roman Mass was anything other than symbolic of the body and blood of Christ, Bickle said, “But didn’t Catholics do some funny things? Well, when you stand before the Lord, you’ll find out you did some funny things too.”

   This writer refutes Mr. Bickle and his demonically twisted idea of what constitutes “funny.” The brightest and most inspiring lights ever produced by the Roman Catholic Church were not the mystics, but, rather, the lights produced by the fires at Smithfield as true Christians died with their lights still shining for the true faith, which consists in its totality and simplicity [4] of Jesus Christ and His great redemption, which is obtained by faith alone, independently of any church sacrament, creed, denomination, or spiritual discipline.

   These shining and burning lights were willing to be burned alive in defense of the truth rather than surrender to the tortures inflicted by the Roman Catholic Church during the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition.

   We fail to find anything in all of that that can remotely be referred to as, funny.

   Bickle heavily promotes Bernard of Clairvaux, who he claims was a quiet little monk who only wanted to stay in his hermitage praying and reading The Song of Solomon. He leaves out the part where the “quiet little monk” traveled extensively as a major instigator of the second crusade.

   Thousands died in those bloody crusades, and not one single true Christian ever participated in those brutal—strictly Roman Catholic—crusades.

   Bickle maintains that Roman Catholic contemplatives are examples of, “a way to a deeper life in God.” He says, “The protestant world is in great need of examples (like these) that will beckon us to the fullness of God.”

   What Mike Bickle is saying, is that God was lying when He promised that [through his Word and the Holy Spirit] we already have everything we need pertaining to life and godliness through the knowledge of Him. Nowhere in scripture do we find that we must add eastern spirituality to our faith, but we do find where we are warned against seeking out eastern forms of spirituality [5].

   Bickle is telling us that if we do not subscribe to the spirituality he endorses, we are woefully deficient, have lost God’s fullness, and need to look to New Age, Eastern, philosophy, and to Roman Catholic mysticism as examples of how to restore it.  

   Bickle admits this of contemplative prayer when he says the following: “… this is an imperfect science… it (the term contemplative prayer) is not a term that is a biblical term… it’s an idea.  … there’s no place where Paul the apostle said the term contemplative prayer means this… different ones throughout church history define it differently… I have 30, 40, 50 titles on contemplative prayer in my home… any book on contemplative prayer, I just buy em… at first it confused me, because one person talked about it so different from another person, it took me a few years to figure it out that there is no clear infallible definition…” [6]

   In plain English, what Bickle tells his followers in his audio message “Contemplative Prayer, Part 2.” is this:

·         Contemplative prayer is an evolving thing.

·         Contemplative prayer cannot be found in the Bible.

·         To one person it means one thing, to another it means something else.

·         Mike Bickle will read anything on contemplative prayer regardless of who writes it.

·         Contemplative prayer cannot be defined.

     Bickle also says, “You’re gonna need resources to do it (to go into the deep waters of God). The Protestant world is really, really, narrow on the resources of contemplative prayer.”

   May we comment as to why the Protestant world is really, really, narrow on resources of contemplative prayer?

   Because contemplative prayer as described by Bickle and the mystics is not found in the Bible!

   During the protestant reformation, Christians broke free from Roman Catholic tyranny, rightly claiming that the Bible alone tells us everything we need to know about life and godliness. Without rejecting the inspirational and revelatory nature of the Holy Spirit, they rightly rejected extra-scriptural revelation such as that which came from the Pope and from the Roman Catholic mystics.

   Contemplative prayer is not found in the Bible.

   Even proponents like Bickle freely admit to that fact. Yet they go right on assuring us that it is perfectly safe, beneficial, and even necessary to our spiritual growth, to pursue an unbiblical spiritual activity.

   Contemplative prayer is an unscriptural, spiritual activity. And if it is an unscriptural spiritual activity, what does that make it?

   That makes it dangerous.

   Proponents of the practice regularly warn their protégés that it is not a perfectly safe activity to engage in. They do this by teaching followers to pray for protection before meditating.

   The Holy Spirit cannot be party to spiritual activities that are unbiblical, so that brings us to the question of what spirit is behind contemplative prayer?

   We have only two choices here, either the Spirit of God is involved or another spirit that is not of God.

   Christians, we are not lacking in resources to help us connect with God. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the written word of God, and the Holy Spirit of God really do give us all the resources we need to experience our relationship with God to the fullest. It does not get any simpler than that.

   There are no gifts that can compare with the authentic gifts of God. Do not fall for cheap, soul-stealing counterfeits!

I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity which is in Christ (2 Corinthians 11:3).



[1] “Therefore you have forsaken your people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east and are soothsayers like the Philistines and they please themselves in the children of strangers” Isaiah 2:6

[2] “…if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead you shall be saved For with the heart one believes unto righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” Romans 10:9-10, 13,

[3] “The first communion may be seen as the full incorporation into the body of Christ.” Austin P. Flannery, Ed., Documents of Vatican II: The Conciliar and Post Conciliar Documents, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, MI, 1984

 [4] “But I fear lest by any means as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3

[5] Isaiah 2:6

[6] This quote from Mike Bickle is taken from his audio message “Contemplative Prayer Part 2.”


 This is an installment of the book, New Age Christianity, by Jocelyn Andersen. Read along on this blog as the book is being written, and then have opportunity to buy a print copy once it is completed. To receive an announcement from Amazon whenever a new book is released by Jocelyn, subscribe to Her Amazon author's page.

To receive Jocelyn's newsletters, subscribe HERE.


Song for my babies in Heaven


 October is pregnancy and infant loss month. I have had five pregnancies, one miscarriage, given birth to four living children, and buried one. 


Here is the song I wrote for my baby boy in Heaven.

Will the Angels Put You in My Arms


Wednesday, October 06, 2021

Jesus is JehovaH


 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is YAHWEH  [1]

Philippians 2:10-11


[1] Philippians 2:10-11 is a quote from Isaiah 45:20-23 where YAHWEH declares there is no Savior besides Him and that to HIM, every knee would bow and every tongue would swear.  

ALL  the fullness of the Godhead dwells in YAHWEH YESHUA in physical form. Jesus is YHWH.


This is an excerpt from The Hungry Hearts Bible Commentary edited by this author.

Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Follow the Money to Fourth Day Living

 

New Age Christianity Part Four

Start at the beginning. Read Part One  Jocelyn Andersen: New Age Christianity PART ONE


 Participants in spiritual formation retreats, such as Walk to Emmaus, Chrysalis Walk, or other events where “historic Christian traditions” are taught, are often introduced to the concept of the Fourth Day.

   Fourth Day living includes growing in spiritual disciplines and historic Christian traditions by studying Roman Catholic mystics, such as St. Teresa of Avila and the Desert Fathers (known as the Fathers of Contemplative Prayer). During these event books by Evelyn Underhill and many others are also recommended as nurturing and guiding resources.

   Underhill was an Anglican mystic who believed that Eastern mysticism (meditation/contemplative prayer also known as “The Silence”) was the vehicle in which all religions could come into contact with the “Absolute,” which is God however one perceives him to be. This is not a concept found in scripture nor is it compatible with the exclusive gospel of Jesus Christ.

   As previously stated, in application and experience, there is little to no difference between transcendental meditation and contemplative prayer.

   Contemplative prayer is transcendental meditation, the only difference being that instead of repeating a traditional mantra such as the Hindu, “Om,” the Christian contemplative might repeat the name Jesus or one of the various names of God, or even a short Bible verse. And the end result for the Christian is identical to that of the Hindu or any other practitioner of transcendental meditation. If the Christian mystics get it just right, they will achieve a state of altered consciousness. And if they get it really right, they might even experience a good high. And all, Christian and non-Christian alike, eventually become awakened to the unity and oneness of all creation and come to the lofty [though unbiblical] understanding that God is in everyone and everything.

   How have such blatantly unbiblical heresies managed to take root within the Christian Church to the degree they have? What is the impetus that gives this movement such momentum?

      It appears that at least a partial answer to this question could be…money.

   In following the money trail on some interfaith organizations that put on a big show of being “Christian,” but are certainly not the kind of Christianity we find in the Bible, we discovered a common denominator in many of the financial grants bestowed upon faith based so-called “Christian” outreaches. One of the stipulations of receiving the money was that grant recipients would commit to participation in “the restoration of ancient, historical, Christian traditions.”

   To the educated reader, the term, ancient, historical, Christian traditions, generally means mystical, contemplative, Roman Catholic, Christian traditions. It has no relation or meaning to the average protestant Christian. The term, ancient, historical, Christian traditions, refers to restoring a Christianized form of transcendental meditation called contemplative prayer (also known as centering or soaking prayer).

   Proponents of contemplative prayer claim to be restoring the practice to the Church. This is interesting, because there has never been any such tradition as contemplative prayer in the Protestant church, so how can something be “restored” that was never there to begin with?

   Such is the deceitful nature of the dialogue of spiritual-formationists.

   The Bible does not support “Historic Christian Traditions.” So, scripture cannot be considered a component in leading protestant evangelicals down the path to contemplative mystical oneness. As we have shown, the Bible begins to exhibit less impact and influence in the lives of contemplative Christians but diluting the authority of scripture is not enough for those driving the spiritual formation movement. There are those with deep pockets willing to take a crack at buying out evangelical Christianity.

   And they do not seem to be at a loss for takers.

   For instance, The Lilly Endowment[1] Clergy Renewal Program grants thousands of dollars each year to churches who will send their pastors to their retreats and who will commit to recovering what they call the “wisdom of the Christian tradition for our contemporary situation” (that’s code for contemplative).

   Prior to 2014, the foundation boasted of investing more than $29,000,000 into more than 700 congregations since the year 2000. The Lilly Endowment also feeds other grant foundations which, according to them, are “enriching contemporary religious life by an appreciative recovery and critical re-appropriation of the riches of the Christian tradition.”

   Christian congregations are being paid handsomely through grant monies, to allow their pastors the “privilege” of attending clergy renewal retreats where they can travel, worship, explore their faith, and recover the wisdom of historic Christian traditions together with other leaders from all denominations.

   The result of these retreats is that Christian leaders are being brought into a more ecumenical and global mindset. Would that logically be the first step to ultimate acceptance of a one world religion?

   In looking at the retreat rosters for the year 2000, it was expected that Universalists, Unitarians, Roman Catholics, and some of the more ecumenical protestant congregations would participate in the clergy renewal programs. And they were there. But what was shocking was that, from the very beginning, traditionally conservative Christians such as Baptists and Mennonites, among others, were among grant recipients and retreat participants as well.

   What is worse, the number of conservative congregations selling out by sending pastors on these heretical retreats has been steadily increasing, with each passing year seeing more and more churches and denominations participating.

    Among grant recipients for the year 2007, there were many more Baptists than were represented in the year 2000. There was more than one Mennonite congregation, a Moravian congregation, and a Church of God.

   The following is an excerpt from the National Clergy Renewal Program 2014 press release: “Since 2000, more than 1,900 congregations across the nation have received grants in the National Clergy Renewal Program to support the renewal programs of their pastors. Congregations in the 2014 program received grants totaling more than $5,000,000. Christian congregations were invited to apply for program grants of up to $50,000. Up to $15,000 of the grant could be allocated to fund interim pastoral leadership as well as to support renewal activities within the congregation.”

   In 2014, 140 churches received grant monies from the Lilly Foundation through their National Clergy Renewal Program. The list of recipients includes:

  • Many Non-Denominational churches
  • Presbyterian
  • Lutheran
  • Christian Reformed
  • United Methodist
  • Holiness
  • Church of the Nazarene
  • Episcopal
  • Congregational
  • United Church of Christ
  • Church of Christ
  • Christian Church
  • Christian Methodist Episcopal
  • Baptist
  • Church of the Brethren
  • Antiochian Orthodox Church
  • Reformed Church
  • Catholic Churches
  • United Protestant Church
  • Community Church
  • Mennonite

   Each of the 140 churches represented by the above denominations received up to $50,000 in exchange for sending their pastors on an extended sabbatical which included a clergy renewal retreat where they would be directed into spiritual formation along with a commitment to support renewal activities within their congregations back home as well.

   This is frightening.

   And the Lilly Endowment is not the only philanthropist organization buying out the Christian Church. There are many organizations bestowing big bucks in the form of grant money on Christians willing to sell their birthrights for bowls of pottage.

  1. Money is the bait
  2. Ancient, “historic,” Christian traditions is the hook
  3. Contemplative spirituality is the line
  4. And a paradigm shift straight into a panentheistic hell is the sinker

   In the 1960’s and 70’s, the Protestant Church was infected with the germ of contemplative spirituality, and with the help of big money grants, bestselling authors, and widespread acceptance by Christian leaders and Christian media, it has now become pandemic and gone viral.

   The church is selling, and philanthropists are buying.

   Do we even want to know who is behind the philanthropists?

   It is as our Lord said, the love of money truly is the root of all evil.



[1] Eli Lilly and Company is an American global pharmaceutical company. In 2009, Eli Lilly pleaded guilty to illegally marketing the drug Zyprexa for off-label uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, particularly the treatment of dementia in the elderly. The company paid a $515,000,000 criminal fine, at the time the largest in history.


This is an installment of the book, New Age Christianity, by Jocelyn Andersen. Read along on this blog as the book is being written, and then have opportunity to buy it once it is completed. To receive an announcement from Amazon whenever a new book is released by Jocelyn, subscribe to Her Amazon author's page.

To receive Jocelyn's newsletters, subscribe HERE.

If there is hierarchy within the Godhead: Jesus is at the top


  Wherefore the God also has highly exalted him and granted to him a name which is above every name [1]

Philippians 2:9


[1] (Philippians 2:9) The term, Ho Theos [the God] always refers to the Godhead/YHWH (of which all the fullness resides in Jesus in physical form). Within the eternal councils of the Godhead it is agreed that the mortal Christ Jesus—YHWH Yeshuawould forever be exalted as the highest power in existence. All other powers [excluding the Godhead], both good and evil, are **surrendered to Jesus. If there is any hierarchy within the Godhead, which there is not, YHWH Yeshua would be at the top.

**See commentary on Revelation1:1 for translation of the Greek word, didomi (Strong’s G1325).


This is an excerpt from The Hungry Hearts Bible Commentary edited by this author.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Ancient Beginnings of Contemplative Prayer

  

New Age Christianity Part Three

Start at the beginning. Read Part One  Jocelyn Andersen: New Age Christianity PART ONE

 
Contemplative prayer traces its roots to a group of monks called the Desert Fathers. The Desert Fathers taught that it did not matter what method one used to seek God. They claimed all methods were good—regardless of origin—and they unashamedly sought and incorporated unscriptural, eastern, methods of meditation into their spiritual practices.[1 see endnotes]

   The prophet Isaiah did not agree with the Desert Fathers and warned against seeking eastern spirituality when he wrote:  

“O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the LORD.
Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east….(Isaiah 2:5-6).”

Mantra meditation is 100% New Age Eastern mysticism and has no place in the life and habits of Christians.

 

Modern Roots

   During the 1960’s and 1970’s, Episcopalians, Lutherans, and several non-denominational groups offered a program called Cursillo. The first Cursillo weekend in the Episcopal Church was conducted in the early 1960's with help from Roman Catholic sponsors in the Diocese of Iowa. The doctrine taught in Cursillo was traditional Catholicism.

   This was part of the ecumenical movement of which, as we will show, the eastern practice of contemplative prayer [mantra meditation] is integral.

   The United Methodist denomination was an eager participant in the Vatican plan. And in 1978, The Upper Room, which is the Spiritual Formation unit of the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church, adapted the Catholic program for a primarily Protestant audience and began to offer it under the name, “The Upper Room Cursillo.” The name was later changed to the more ecumenical, “Upper Room Walk to Emmaus [2].

      Scripture commands us to not only meditate upon something, the Written Word of God [3], but to also refrain from adopting the spiritual practices of unbelievers [4]. Jesus clearly spoke against mantra meditation when he said, “But when you pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do…”

   Contemplative prayer is derived from Hinduism. Christian contemplatives do not deny this. It is diabolically opposed to the scriptural form of meditation as described in Psalms chapter one verse two.

   There is little argument that spiritual formation programs and contemplative prayer, in one form or another, go hand in hand. Spiritual disciplines, taught in spiritual formation programs, are not limited to mantra meditation but also include yoga and labyrinth walking. Just because a local congregation may not, as yet, be familiar with these terms or practices is no reason to assume that the congregation or denomination has not been affected by spiritual formation.

   The list of denominations which have instituted these programs in their theological seminaries and churches is extensive. Below are just a few schools with spiritual formation programs. The list includes every major denomination:

 

  • Andover Newton Theological School
  • Assemblies of God (AG Theological Seminary)
  • Baptist (Baylor University & Dallas Theological Seminary)
  • Church of God (Mount Paran)
  • Methodist (Dubuque Theological Seminary)
  • Moody Bible Institute
  • Nazarene Theological Seminaries
  • Presbyterian Theological Seminaries
  • Wheaton College

 

   This is just a partial list, fractional compared to the total number of Bible colleges and churches that push contemplative spirituality on their students and congregations.

   This has been going on for decades. In 2008 this author was contacted by the Dean’s office at the United Methodist University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, requesting information concerning labyrinth walking.

   They had our ministry confused with a prominent Presbyterian spiritual formation outreach with a similar name. They wrote requesting permission to use a certain newsletter article in training their seminary students to facilitate labyrinth walking as part of their spiritual formation program [labyrinth walking is an occult practice, and all occult practices are forbidden to God’s people]. Below is a copy of that correspondence:

The University of Dubuque Theological Seminary located in Dubuque, Iowa would like copyright permission to reproduce "Labyrinth" from the summer 2000, Vol. 8, No. 2 edition of Hungry Hearts.

The purpose is for use in our Spiritual Formation Group class. We are seeking permission to use as part of our curriculum for several years. Is there a one-time copyright fee that would cover us for several years? We have approx. 30-40 students in the class per year.

Thank you for your assistance.”

   Herein lies the danger of contemplative spirituality (or any spiritual practice forbidden by the Bible): All who embrace contemplative spirituality, at some point, experience an ecumenical paradigm shift where an idea forms that God is in everyone and everything.   

   This is called panentheism.

   The doctrine of panentheism is in direct conflict with the word of God, which teaches that God indwells only those who belong to him through faith in his risen son, Jesus the only Christ. Only those who have been born again through the Spirit of God can be called the children of God [5].

   All humans are not children of God.

   Once panentheism takes hold, basic Christian beliefs, such as searching the scriptures to prove all things, begin to take a back seat to experiential Christianity. Examples will be given to illustrate this. To the committed contemplative, beliefs such as the authority of the Bible and the importance of preaching the gospel in soul winning become signs that a Christian is merely religious rather than spiritual.

   Contemplative spirituality is an experiential spirituality. Best-selling contemplative author and pastor, John Piper, writes that if we don’t feel our faith we may not be saved. He advocates emotion and the experiential in refuting the clear scriptural teaching of faith and assurance contained in Romans 10:9-13 and 1 John 5:11-13.[6]

   Piper is wrong.

 The Written Word of God assures us that if we call on the name of the Lord to be saved, then we will be saved and that His Word assures us of eternal life if we have the Son (if we are born again).

   That is faith.

   Faith is often felt but not always.  

    Former Sunday school worker/now contemplative author, Sue Monk Kidd, is an example of what happens when faith in the written Word of God is rejected in favor of experiential Christianity. Within the familiar confines of her Baptist Church, she came to the unfortunate conclusion that her ultimate spiritual authority was not the Bible at all, but rather the “divine voice of her own soul.”[7]  

   How can Christians listen to this woman when the Word of God tells us just the opposite [8]? Kidd now boasts that she has moved past the traditional to the sacred “feminine.”

With unscriptural concepts such as those promoted by Piper and Kidd going largely unchallenged within the Body of Christ [9]. it is becoming increasingly easier for unsaved persons to obtain church membership and lead active “Christian” lives, when no saving conversion has ever taken place.

   Bill Hamon, called the Father of The Prophetic movement, promotes contemplative spirituality and viciously attacks biblical beliefs and practices in just about every area.

   Hamon had this to say about the amazing fact that 20,000 new believers per day were being won to Jesus in China, he wrote, “…that sounds great, but…. [10]."  

   How can anyone who is truly born again add a “but” to the fact that 20,000 people a day in any single country are being saved from the Lake of Fire?

   Bill Hamon does it because he claims that signs and wonders are the primary proof that God is validating his ministry and that these are the definitive fruits of God’s blessing on any ministry. In his view, the fact that souls may be won to Christ is merely collateral blessing, of secondary importance to the manifestation of signs and wonders.

   Experiences, signs, wonders, and our own inner voices do not supersede the authority of the written word of God and the amazing miracle of the salvation of a soul.

   Rick Joyner is another prophetic leader who promotes contemplative prayer and emphasizes the experiential in place of the authority of the Bible.

   Joyner claimed he had lots of scripture to back up the things he wrote in his anti-Bible, anti-soul-winning, book, The Harvest, but that he was not going to use much of it as he wanted his readers to “commune with the spirit” about whether what he had written was true.

   One wonders what spirit Joyner communes with, that objects to scripture being used as a standard for truth or that denigrates the practice of soul-winning.

   Jesus was not ashamed of the written Word of God. He boldly proclaimed, “It is written!” when Satan attempted to commune with him concerning “truth.”

   The Bible clearly states that “They that win souls are wise.”

   Who will we believe, those who denigrate soul winning, or the Bible?

   In a later book, Joyner shared a vision he received where he saw a holy mountain. On this mountain, Christians who focused primarily on soul winning were portrayed as being at the bottom of the developmental heap. According to Joyner, his vision of the “holy mountain” showed him that ardent soul winners are the least spiritually developed and most pathetic of all Christians [11].

   Here lies the crux of the whole matter, all who embrace experiential spirituality, sooner or later, begin losing respect for the written word of God. And their burden for soul-winning is often superseded by a zeal for promoting contemplative spirituality instead.

   Aggressive evangelism by preaching the gospel becomes discouraged, even ridiculed. Bible believing Christians with the ministry gift of evangelism and ardently preach the gospel in soul-winning are often libeled as being “judgmental” and called Pharisees. Relationship or prophetic evangelism is encouraged to replace it. That may sound good on the surface, and of course there is a place for relationship evangelism, but wholly rejecting the one in favor of exclusively embracing the other denies the biblical fact that it is the gospel of Jesus Christ—both written and spoken—that is the power of God unto salvation [12].

   No church fellowship is immune to the influence of contemplative spirituality.

   Spiritual Formation programs are taking root within every denomination and belief system of Christianity. Southern Baptist Life Way Bookstores has been confronted by concerned Christians about their promotion of contemplative books and authors who promote contemplative spirituality [13].

   Although contemplative spirituality is obviously rooted in pagan religious systems, such as Hinduism, the modern-day contemplative movement, promoted within Protestant Christianity through spiritual formation programs, descends directly from Roman Catholic mystics who adopted it directly from non-Christian eastern mystics [14].  

   It is commonly acknowledged among contemplative leaders that contemplative prayer cannot be fully embraced without referencing, at some point, the Roman Catholic mystics. Madame Guyon, Saint Teresa of Avila, Saint Ignatius, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, and the Desert Fathers are just a few of these. However, this fact may not be revealed—at first—while introducing spiritual disciplines to non-Catholic believers.[15]

   Mike Bickle, a leader in the prophetic movement who heavily promotes contemplative prayer, boldly proclaims that if you want to go “deeper into God,” you must embrace both contemplative prayer and the Roman Catholic mystics [16].

   Bickle unashamedly admits that contemplative prayer cannot be found in scripture nor can it be found anywhere in protestant tradition. It can only be found within eastern religions (Hinduism and Buddhism) which passed it on to Christianity via the Roman Catholic mystics.

   Most leading contemplatives have no problem agreeing with Mike Bickle on this.

  Some (but by no means all) descriptive terms used by those who promote contemplative spirituality are:

  • Going deeper into God
  • Experiencing the presence of God
  • Meditation
  • The Silence
  • Soaking Prayer
  • Soaking
  • Quiet
  • Being “Quiet” before God
  • Solitude
  • Reflecting / Reflection
  • Lectio Divina
  • Spiritual disciplines
  • The Secret Place

 

   As stated, one of the fruits of contemplative spirituality is an ecumenical mindset which fails to discern between who is a child of God and who is not, this extends to important doctrinal differences between Protestant and Roman Catholic beliefs and practices.

   The differences begin with how a person is saved.

   Roman Catholicism teaches that a person is fully incorporated into the Body of Christ when they participate in their first mass, at the time of their first communion [17]. personal faith, being born again, and calling on the name of the Lord for salvation plays no part in the Roman Catholic belief system. According to the documents of the Vatican II, no one is born again, and there is no assurance of salvation for any believer.

   Belief in the sacraments of the Church and in the Priest’s authority to administer them is paramount.

   Can such a doctrine be found anywhere in scripture?

   Nevertheless, all Christians who experience paradigm shifts by means of contemplative “spiritual disciplines” become enamored with both eastern culture and Roman Catholic mystics.

   Despite the ecumenical nature of their rhetoric with regards to Protestants and Catholics, the contemplative Christian’s love affair with eastern spirituality, almost without exception, eventually finds expression in words and writings that are polarizing within the protestant camp, peppered as they are with frequent references to the un-spirituality of the “western” church.

   Unity, peace, love, and “Don’t Judge!” are words of the day. “Judgmental” is one of the most frequently used words in the modern spiritual vocabulary (towards Bible believing Christians) with “Pharisee” running a close second. But those whose conversation is so liberally sprinkled with the words unity, peace, love, and don’t judge, seem to have no problem with criticizing and judging—often viciously—those with more “traditional” beliefs.

   They are hypocrites who do not practice what they preach.

   What kind of fruit is that? Jesus said, “You shall know them by their fruits…”

   The process takes time, but eventually all committed contemplatives experience a failure to understand why there are religious differences… at all… between anyone… in any religion.

   A widely publicized 2007 document entitled, “A Common Word Between Us and You,” is supported by Rick Warren and many other prominent Christian leaders. The document calls for a common understanding between the Christian faith and the Muslim faith based on the Quran commandment “O People of the Scripture! Come to a common word as between us and you: that we worship none but God.”

   Prominent Christian leaders, in a show of solidarity with Muslim leaders, signed their names to that document, despite the fact that the Christian scriptures and the Muslim Koran are not the same and are indeed incompatible with one another. The Christian God and the Muslim Allah are not even the same God. Ask any Muslim and they will tell you that Allah and Yahweh are not the same God. Ask any Muslim and they will tell you that Allah, the moon god of Mecca, has no son.

   Rick Warren subtly promotes, among other questionable things, contemplative spirituality. His book, The Purpose Driven Life, is full of eastern thought.[18] So it should come as no surprise that he would be listed as a signatory of such a nefarious document as, “A Common Word Between Us and You.”

   When contemplatives say, “Seek God. It does not matter how you do it—just do it—he will accept you regardless,” they really mean to start seeking a trance-like state of mindlessness only achieved through mantra meditation.   

   It does not matter how we seek God? That is not what the Bible says. We are clearly instructed in scripture that must seek God according to His methods which are outlined clearly in His Word. Jesus Christ, the Jesus of the Bible, is the only way, the only truth and the only life [19].

   Far too many have fallen in love with another Jesus. A Jesus they will find out—unfortunately when it is too late—who cannot save [20].

   When unscriptural spiritual disciplines are adopted, and the biblical doctrine that God only indwells those who are saved by faith in the shed blood of Jesus begins to be replaced with the false notion that God is in everything and everyone, the very word doctrine (which simply means teaching or instruction) eventually becomes a dirty word with the superior truth of scripture becoming subordinate to deceitful human feelings [21].

   The experiential aspect of contemplative prayer means that during the course of practicing this spiritual discipline the person experiences something.

   That is the whole purpose of it, to experience something.

   It is sometimes called “Experiencing God” or “Experiencing the Presence of God.”

   Only it is not the God of Heaven, the creator of Heaven and earth, who is experienced.

   The God of the Bible does not operate that way. His presence cannot be conjured using any ritual or meditative practice.

   Contemplative prayer is dangerous.

   In his book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster warns his readers that they may receive guidance during contemplative prayer that is not divine guidance. He warns that the person entering into such meditation may not be safe from “dark and evil” spirits.

   Yet he encourages the pursuit of it anyway.

   Brian Flynn, a former New Age medium who now exposes new age practices within the church, suggests that Christians pursue this unscriptural, dangerous, form of meditation, because they become infatuated with the seductive feeling that accompanies it. While introducing the subject to potential victims, Mike Bickle strongly emphasizes the experience contemplative prayer produces.

   A few well-known authors who are now promoting contemplative spirituality are [22]:

  • Beth Moore
  • Bill Hamon
  • Brennen Manning
  • Chuck Swindoll
  • C. Scott Peck
  • David Jeremiah
  • Father Thomas Keating
  • Henri Nouwen
  • Max Lucado
  • Nancy Leigh DeMoss [if not overtly teaching the spirituality herself, is allowing the concepts to be taught by others on her website. This is a favored method used by those who know a doctrine is controversial but want to keep their own noses clean]
  • Richard Foster
  • Rick Joyner
  • Rick Warren
  • Sue Monk Kidd
  • Thomas Merton

 

   This is a comparatively short list that highlights the pervasiveness of this movement and the diversity of religious affiliations and backgrounds of those who promote contemplative spirituality. Virtually all Bible colleges and seminaries now have Spiritual Formation departments.

   It is a frightening fact that the list of former evangelical/now contemplative authors is growing daily.

   The dangers of contemplative, experiential, spirituality are strong enough that Bible believing Christians should give anyone promoting these beliefs a very wide berth, no matter how biblical their doctrine has been in the past.

   When allowed to run its course, the end result of embracing contemplative spirituality is a complete paradigm shift, not only away from the simplicity found in Christ, but altogether away from the fact that Jesus Christ, the Jesus of the Bible, is the only way, the only truth, and the only life.  

   To a man, all evangelical contemplatives profess belief in Christ, despite the fact that he condemns their heathenistic practices in no uncertain terms when he forbids vain repetitions in prayer.  

   All prominent contemplatives, all, as in every…   single…   one… are panentheists who claim to have finally come to the understanding that God is in all things.

   Where in scriptures is such a thing even hinted at, that God is in all things as opposed to the Biblical teaching that he resides, not in all things, but only within those who belong to him through faith in Jesus, his risen son  [23]?

   This is an admission, whether they own up to it or not, that in their revised contemplative opinion, Jesus is no longer the only way to eternal life.

   There is no way God can be in everything and only in those who belong to his risen Son at the same time. The two ideas are mutually exclusive and in opposition to each other. The evidence is overwhelming that the end result of contemplative spirituality is Panentheism.

   What kind of fruit is this? Jesus said, “You shall know them by their fruits…”

  


[1] A good research site for concerning eastern meditation practices in The Church is Lighthouse Trails Research Project: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/

[2] Participants in the Walk to Emmaus retreats and Chrysalis Walks (Chrysalis Walk is the youth version of Walk to Emmaus) are introduced to the concept of the Fourth Day. Fourth Day living includes follow-up with ongoing small group get-togethers and resources that Upper Room Spiritual Directors hope will continue to provide “spiritual guidance and nurture” to Chrysalis and Walk to Emmaus initiates. Recommended follow-up resources include authors who are Roman Catholic mystics such as St. Teresa of Avila and the Desert Fathers (known as the Fathers of Contemplative Prayer). Books by Evelyn Underhill are also recommended as nurturing and guiding resources. Underhill was an Anglican mystic who believed that mysticism (meditation/contemplative prayer also known as “The Silence”) was the vehicle in which all religions could come into contact with the "Absolute" (God) however one perceived him to be—clearly not a concept found in scripture nor compatible with the exclusive gospel of Jesus Christ as the only way to the Father and to eternal life.

[3] Psalm 1:2

[4] Jeremiah 10:2 Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen….

[5] John 1:12

[6] John 1:11-15 And this is the record that God has given to us eternal life and this life is in his Son they that have the Son have life and they that have not the Son of God have not life These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God And this is the confidence that we have in him that if we ask any thing according to his will he hears us And if we know that he hears us whatsoever we ask we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him

[7] Dance of the Dissident Daughter, 1996

[8] Jeremiah 10:23: O LORD I know that the way of humanity is not in themselves it is not in mortals that walk to direct their steps

[9] Piper and Kidd’s books are heavily promoted in mainstream Christian bookstores and are often recommended reading in previously Bible believing churches.

[10] Apostles Prophets and the Coming Moves of God, 1997

[11] The Final Quest, 1996

[12] Romans 1:16

[13] http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/newsletter100906.htm#article2

[14] Everywhere we look “evangelicals” are turning to Roman Catholic styles of contemplative spirituality (which in many cases were borrowed from pagan sources), such as ritualistic rote prayers, chanting, meditation, centering prayer, the use of prayer beads, Stations of the Cross, lectio divina, labyrinths, and “the daily office.”

http://www.wayoflife.org/index_files/evangelicals_turning_to_roman_catholic_spirituality.html

[15] “You’re going to have to open your heart to Teresa of Avila…,” Mike Bickle, Contemplative Prayer, 2001

[16] The Protestant church must become students of contemplative prayer, and to do that, you have to go across that great, horrible divide, and you have to drink from Catholic history. Mike Bickle, Contemplative Prayer, 2001

[17] Documents of the Vatican 2, New Revised Edition, pg. 112, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984

[18] The Hindu concept of Karma is present among other things in, “The Purpose Driven Life.” Warren weaves pagan/New Age ideas throughout his book, and he does so in such a subtle manner, that unless one is familiar with the belief systems, they would likely (and did!) go un-noticed by the average reader.

[19] John 14:6

[20] 2 Corinthians 11:3-4

[21] There is a way that seems right unto a man but the end thereof are the ways of death,  Proverbs 14:12

[22] For an extensive listing of contemplative authors and seminaries visit Lighthouse Trails Research Project online

[23] “Here lies the core of panentheism: God is in everything, and everything is in God. The only difference between pantheism and panentheism is how God is in everything. This position of the panentheist is challenging to understand: Your outer personality is not God, but God is still in you as your true identity…” Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, Lighthouse Trails Publishing Company, Silverton, OR, 2006

Read Part Four HERE



This is an installment of the book, New Age Christianity, by Jocelyn Andersen. Read along on this blog as the book is being written, and then have opportunity to buy it once it is completed. To receive an announcement from Amazon whenever a new book is released by Jocelyn, subscribe to 
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