Letter to the Editor: “Awakening America Alliance” Brings SBC President Ronnie Floyd Together with New Age Roma Downey
TO LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS:
I’m sending you this e-mail (see below) that I got from the “Awakening America Alliance” about their recent biennial “RESET SUMMIT” held in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Awakening America Alliance” states this as their ultimate goal: “The Alliance’s ultimate goal is serving kingdom initiatives for spiritual awakening and missional living. The Reset Summit is a part of their pursuit of a fresh Christ-Awakening across the nation—in every state, every county, every church, and every heart. Gathering leaders from these various spheres of influence not only builds relationships, but reflects one of their foundational principles—“history is transformed among friends.”
I am sending you this because I noticed that participants included Roma Downey (and husband Mark Burnett)! This is a conference for national Christian leaders, and Ronnie Floyd (President of the Southern Baptist Convention) along with other denominational prayer and church leaders participated. What is Roma Downey doing at a National Christian Leader’s conference for an American “spiritual awakening”?
I am concerned over Roma Downey’s growing influence over evangelical Christians, and what seems to be her public role in helping Christians supposedly gain influence or reclaim “dominion” over the “Arts and Entertainment” mountain of the “7 Cultural Mountains”. (See–http://www.7culturalmountains.org/). Lance Wallnau, Os Hillman, C.Peter Wagner are all proponents of this.
Please see Herescope blog posts: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/06/seven-mountains.html http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/09/next-great-awakening_20.html.
Roma Downey’s (and her husband Mark Burnett’s) recent and growing projects are gathering great momentum, sadly among evangelical Christians. As you well know and have warned about, her projects include creating the “A.D.” miniseries currrently airing on NBC, which is not even remotely accurate to the Bible. She and husband Mark Burnett were also executives of the recently released Roman Catholic, mystical film : “Little Boy: Believe the Impossible” (See Facebook page link with trailer–https://www.facebook.com/littleboymovie).
I’m sending you this email so you can hopefully keep warning your readers about the unbiblical teachings and associations of Roma Downey and the promotion and embracing that evangelical leaders are giving her.
Concerned in California
Reset America Summit Unites National Leaders
The Awakening America Alliance recently hosted their bi-annual Leadership Summit in Atlanta, Georgia. The summits emphasize:
General Sessions introduced fresh ideas and inspired the group of key leaders with speakers from the arenas of denominational leadership, next-generation evangelism, faith-based media, and prayer ministry. Mark Burnett and Roma Downey, Producers of A.D. The Bible Continues, and Ronnie Floyd, President of the Southern Baptist Convention joined the group via video conferencing. (Click here to view Mark and Roma’s greeting.)
What is the Gospel? by Harry A. Ironside is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of What is the Gospel?, click here.
by Harry A. Ironside
Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
It might seem almost a work of supererogation to answer a question like this. We hear the word, “Gospel” used so many times. People talk of this and of that as being “as true as the Gospel,” and I often wonder what they really mean by it.
Our English word, “gospel” just means the “good spell,” and the word “spell,” is the old Anglo-Saxon word for, “tidings,” the good tidings, the good news. The original word translated. “Gospel,” which we have taken over into the English with little alteration is the word, “evangel,” and it has the same meaning, the good news. The Gospel is God’s good news for sinners. The Bible contains the Gospel, but there is a great deal in the Bible which is not Gospel.
First I should like to indicate what it is not.
THE GOSPEL IS…
Not The Commandments
The Gospel is not just any message from God telling man how he should behave. “What is the Gospel?” I asked a man this question some time ago, and he answered, “Why I should say it is the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount, and I think if a man lives up to them he is all right.”
Well, I fancy he would be; but did you ever know anybody who lived up to them? The Sermon on the Mount demands a righteousness which no unregenerate man has been able to produce. The law is not the Gospel; it is the very antitheses of the Gospel. In fact, the law was given by God to show men their need for the Gospel.
“The law,” says the apostle Paul, speaking as a Jewish convert, “was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. But after that Christ is come we are no longer under the schoolmaster.”
The Gospel is not a call to repentance, or to amendment of our ways, to make restitution for past sins, or to promise to do better in the future. These things are proper in their place, but they do not constitute the Gospel; for the Gospel is not good advice to be obeyed, it is good news to be believed. Do not make the mistake then of thinking that the Gospel is a call to duty or a call to reformation, a call to better your condition, to behave yourself in a more perfect way than you have been doing in the past.
Not Giving Up The World
Nor is the Gospel a demand that you give up the world, that you give up your sins, that you break off bad habits, and try to cultivate good ones. You may do all these things, and yet never believe the Gospel and consequently never be saved at all.
There are seven designations of the Gospel in the New Testament, but over and above all these, let me draw your attention to the fact that when this blessed message is mentioned, it is invariably accompanied by the definite article. Over and over and over again in the New Testament we read of the Gospel. It is the Gospel, not a Gospel. People tell us there are a great many different Gospels; but there is only ONE.
When certain teachers came to the Galatians and tried to turn them away from the simplicity that was in Christ Jesus by teaching “another Gospel, “the apostle said that it was a different gospel, but not another; for there is none other than the Gospel. It is downright exclusive; it is God’s revelation to sinful man.
Not Comparative Religion
The scholars of this world talk of the Science of Comparative Religions, and it is very popular now-a-days to say, “We cannot any longer go to heathen nations and preach to them as in the days gone by, because we are learning that their religions are just as good as ours, and the thing to do now is to share with them, to study the different religions, take the good out of them all, and in this way lead the world into a sense of brotherhood and unity.”
So in our great universities and colleges, men study this Science of Comparative Religions, and they compare all these different religious systems one with another. There is a Science of Comparative Religions, but the Gospel is not one of them. All the different religions in the world may well be studied comparatively, for at rock bottom they are all alike; they all set man at trying to earn his own salvation.
They may be called by different names, and the things that men are called to do may be different in each case, but they all set men trying to save their own souls and earn their way into the favor of God. In this they stand in vivid contrast with the Gospel, for the Gospel is that glorious message that tells us what God has done for us in order that guilty sinners maybe saved.
The seven designations of the Gospel are called—
1. The Gospel Of The Kingdom
When I use that term, I am not thinking particularly of any dispensational application but of this blessed truth that it is only through believing the Gospel that men are born into the Kingdom of God; We sing: “A ruler once came to Jesus by night, To ask Him the way of salvation and light; The Master made answer in words true and plain, ‘ye must be born again.’ “But neither Nicodemus, nor you, nor I, could ever bring this about ourselves.”
We had nothing to with our first birth and can have nothing to do with our second birth. It must be the work of God, and it is wrought through the Gospel. That is why the Gospel is called the Gospel of the Kingdom, for, “Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 7). “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. . . And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:23-25).
Everywhere that Paul and his companion apostles went, they preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, and they showed that the only way to get into that Kingdom was by a second birth, and that the only way whereby the second birth could be brought about was through believing the Gospel. It is the Gospel of the Kingdom.
2. The Gospel Of God
It is also called the Gospel of God because God is the source of it, and it is altogether of Himself. No man ever thought of a Gospel like this. The very fact that all the religions of the world set man to try to work for his own salvation indicates the fact that no man would ever have dreamed of such a Gospel as that which is revealed in this Book. It came from the heart of God; it was God who “so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He first loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:9,10)
And because it is the Gospel of God, God is very jealous of it. He wants it kept pure. He does not want it mixed with any of man’s theories or laws; He does not want it mixed up with religious ordinances or anything of that kind. The Gospel is God’s own pure message to sinful man. God grant that you and I may receive it as in very truth the Gospel of God. And then it is called
3. The Gospel Of His Son
Not merely because the Son went everywhere preaching the Gospel, but because He is the theme of it. “When it pleased God,” says the apostle, “who called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me that I might preach Him among the nations; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood” (Galatians 1:15,16). “We preach Christ crucified . . . the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23, 24). No man preaches the Gospel who is not exalting the Lord Jesus.
It is God’s wonderful message about His Son. How often I have gone to meetings where they told me I would hear the Gospel, and instead of that I have heard some bewildered preacher talk to a bewildered audience about everything and anything, but the Lord Jesus Christ. The Gospel has to do with nothing else but Christ. It is the Gospel of God’s Son. And so, linked with this it is called:
4. The Gospel Of Christ
The apostle Peter preaching on the day of Pentecost of the risen Savior, says, “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). And He speaks of Him as the anointed One, exalted at God’s right hand. The Gospel is the Gospel of the Risen Christ. There would be no Gospel for sinners if Christ had not been raised.
So the apostle says, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). A great New York preacher, great in his impertinence, at least, said some years ago, preaching a so-called Easter sermon, “The body of Jesus still sleeps in a Syrian tomb, but His soul goes marching on.” That is not the Gospel of Christ. We are not preaching the Gospel of a dead Christ, but of a living Christ who sits exalted at the Father’s right hand, and is living to save all who put their trust in Him.
That is why those of us who really know the Gospel never have any crucifixes around our churches or in our homes. The crucifix represents a dead Christ hanging languid on a cross of shame. But we are not pointing men to a dead Christ; we are preaching a living Christ. He lives exalted at God’s right hand, and He saves all who come to God by Him.
5. The Gospel of the Grace of God
The Gospel is also called the Gospel of the Grace of God because it leaves no room whatsoever for human merit. It just brushes away all man’s pretension to any goodness, to any desert excepting judgment. It is the Gospel of grace, and grace is God’s free unmerited favor to those who have merited the very opposite. It is as opposite to works as oil is to water.” If by grace,” says the Spirit of God, “then it is no more works . . . but if it be of works, then is it no more grace” (Romans 11:6). People say, “But you must have both.”
I have heard it put like this: there was a boatman and two theologians in a boat, and one was arguing that salvation was by faith and the other by works. The boatman listened, and then said, “Let me tell you how it looks to me. Suppose I call this oar Faith and this one Works. If I pull on this one, the boat goes around; if I pull on this other one, it goes around the other way, but if I pull on both oars, I get you across the river.”
I have heard many preachers use that illustration to prove that we are saved by faith and works. That might do if we were going to Heaven in a rowboat, but we are not. We are carried on the shoulders of the Shepherd, who came seeking lost sheep When He finds them He carries them home on His shoulders.
But there are some other names used. It is called:
6. The Gospel of the Glory of God
I love that name. It is the Gospel of the Glory of God because it comes from the place where our Lord Jesus has entered. The veil has been rent, and now the glory shines out; and whenever this Gospel is proclaimed, it tells of a way into the glory for sinful man, a way to come before the Mercy Seat purged from every stain. It is the Gospel of the Glory of God, because, until Christ had entered into the Glory, it could not be preached in its fullness, but, after the glory received Him, then the message went out to a lost world.
7. The Everlasting Gospel
It is also called the Everlasting Gospel because it will never be superseded by another. No other ever went before it, and no other shall ever come after it. One of the professors of the University of Chicago wrote a book in which he tried to point out that some of these days Jesus would be superseded by a greater teacher; then He and the Gospel that He taught would have to give way to a message which would be more suited to the intelligence of the cultivated men of the later centuries.
No, no, were it possible for this world to go on a million years, it would never need any other Gospel than this preached by the apostle Paul and confirmed with signs following; the Gospel, which throughout the centuries has been saving guilty sinners.
THE GOSPEL DECLARED
What then is the content of this Gospel? We are told right here:
I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:1-2)
There is such a thing as merely believing with the intelligence and crediting some doctrine with the mind when the heart has not been reached. But wherever men believe this Gospel in real faith, they are saved through the message.
What is it that brings this wonderful result? It is a simple story, and yet how rich, how full. “I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received” (1 Corinthians 15:3). I think Paul’s heart must have been stirred as he wrote those words, for he went back in memory to nearly thirty years before and thought of that day when hurrying down the Damascus turnpike, with his heart filled with hatred toward the Lord Jesus Christ and His people, he was thrown to the ground, and a light shone, and he heard a voice saying, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” And he cried, “Who art thou Lord?” And the voice said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.” (Acts 9:4-5)
And that day Saul learned the Gospel; he learned that He who died on the Cross had been raised from the dead, and that He was living in the Glory. At that moment, his soul was saved, and Saul of Tarsus was changed to Paul, the Apostle. And now he says, “I am going to tell you what I have received; it is a real thing with me, and I know it will work the same wonderful change in you. If you will believe it. “First of all, “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.” Then, “that He was buried.” Then, “that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.”
The Gospel was no new thing in God’s mind. It had been predicted throughout the Old Testament times. Every time the coming Savior was mentioned, there was proclamation of the Gospel. It began in Eden when the Lord said, “The seed of the woman shall bruise thy head.” It was typified in every sacrifice that was offered. It was portrayed in the wonderful Tabernacle and later in the Temple.
We have it in the proclamation of Isaiah:
He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him: and with His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)
It was preached by Jeremiah when he said, “This is His Name whereby He shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6). It was declared by Zechariah when he exclaimed, “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones” (Zechariah 13:7).
All through the Old Testament, the Gospel was predicted, and when Jesus came, the Gospel came with Him. When He died, when He was buried, and when He rose again, the Gospel could be fully told out to a poor lost world. Observe, it says, “that Christ died for our sins.” No man preaches the Gospel, no matter what nice things he may say about Jesus, if he leaves out His vicarious death on Calvary’s Cross.
CHRIST’S DEATH—NOT HIS LIFE
I was preaching in a church in Virginia, and a minister prayed, “Lord, grant Thy blessing as the Word is preached tonight. May it be the means of causing people to fall in love with the Christ-life, that they may begin to live the Christ-life.” I felt like saying, “Brother, sit down; don’t insult God like that;” but then I felt I had to be courteous, and I knew that my turn would come, when I could get up and give them the truth. The Gospel is not asking men to live the Christ-life.
If your salvation depends upon your doing that, you are just as good as checked for Hell, for you never can live it in yourself. It is utterly impossible. But the very first message of the Gospel is the story of the vicarious atonement of Christ. He did not come to tell men how to live in order that they might save themselves; He did not come to save men by living His beautiful life. That, apart from His death, would never have saved one poor sinner. He came to die; He “was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9).
Christ Jesus gave Himself a ransom for all. When He instituted the Lord’s Supper He said, “Take, eat: this is My body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of Me. . . This cup is the new covenant in My Blood” (1 Corinthians 11:24, 25). There is no Gospel if the vicarious death of Jesus is left out, and there is no other way whereby you can be saved than through the death of the blessed spotless Lamb of God.
Someone says, “But I do not understand it.” That is a terrible confession to make, for “If our Gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: (2 Corinthians 4:3). If you do not see that there is no other way of salvation for you, save through the death of the Lord Jesus, then that just tells the sad story that you are among the lost. You are not merely in danger of being lost in the Day of Judgment; but you are lost now. But, thank God, “the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10), and seeking the lost He went to the Cross.
None of the ransomed ever know
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night that the Lord passed through,
Ere He found the sheep that was lost.1
THE NECESSITY OF DEATH
He had to die, to go down into the dark waters of death, that you might be saved. Can you think of any ingratitude more base than that of a man or woman who passes by the life offered by the Savior who died on the Cross for them? Jesus died for you, and can it be that you have never even trusted Him, never even come to Him and told Him you were a poor, lost, ruined, guilty sinner; but since He died for you, you would take Him as your Savior? HIS DEATH WAS REAL.
He was buried three days in the tomb. He died, He was buried, and that was God’s witness that it was not a merely pretended death, but He, the Lord of Life, had to go down into death. He was held by the bars of death for those three days and nights until God’s appointed time had come.
Then, “Death could not keep its prey, He tore the bars away.”2 And so the third point of the Gospel is this: He was raised again the third day according to the Scriptures. That is the Gospel, and nothing can be added to that. Some people say, “Well, but must I repent?” Yes, you may well repent, but that is not the Gospel. “Must I not be baptized?” If you are a Christian, you ought to be baptized, but baptism is not the Gospel. Paul said, “Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the Gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:17).
He did baptize people, but he did not consider that was the Gospel, and the Gospel was the great message that he was sent to carry to the world. This is all there is to it.
Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures . . . he was buried, and . . . he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
THE GOSPEL ACCEPTED
Look at the result of believing the Gospel. Go back to verse two of 1 Corinthians 15: “By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” That is, if you believe the Gospel, you are saved; if you believe that Christ died for your sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again, God says you are saved. Do you believe it? No man ever believed that except by the Holy Ghost. It is the Spirit of God that overcomes the natural unbelief of the human heart and enables a man to put his trust in that message.
And this is not mere intellectual credence, but it is that one comes to the place where he is ready to stake his whole eternity on the fact that Christ died, and was buried, and rose again. When Jesus said, “IT IS FINISHED,” the work of salvation was completed. A dear saint was dying, and looking up, he said, “It is finished; on that I can cast my eternity.”
Upon a life I did not live,
Upon a death I did not die;
Another’s life, another’s death,
Is take my whole eternity.3
Can you say that, and say it in faith?
THE GOSPEL REJECTED
What about the man who does not believe the Gospel? The Lord Jesus said to His disciples:
Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:15-16)
He that believeth not shall be devoted to judgment, condemned, lost. So you see, God has shut us up to the Gospel. Have you believed it? Have you put your trust in it; is it the confidence of your soul?
Or have you been trusting in something else? If you have been resting in anything short of the Christ who died, who was buried, who rose again, I plead with you, turn from every other fancied refuge, and flee to Christ today. “Repent ye, and believe the Gospel” (Mark 1:15).
O, do not let the word depart,
And close thine eyes against the light;
Poor sinner, harden not thy heart,
Be saved, O tonight.4
To order copies of What is the Gospel?, click here.
1. Elizabeth C. Clephane, 1830-1869; The Ninety and Nine
2. Robert Lowry, 1826-1899; Up From the Grave He Arose
3. Horatius Bonar, 1808-1889; Upon a Life I Did Not Life
4. Elizabeth Holmes Reed, 1794-1867; Oh Why Not Tonight?
Harry A. Ironside (1876-1951)
Dr. Ironside was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. His writings are in the public domain. Visit www.harryironside.com to read more by Dr. Ironside. To order copies of What is the Gospel?, click here.
During this time of national tragedy in Nepal, let us pray for the people in that country. May many turn to the Lord Jesus Christ in their suffering and loss. And may biblical believers in Christ in Nepal be able to share the Gospel with those who are in need.
“And he [Jesus] said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; by which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
The following article is also in booklet form. Click here to see if there are labyrinths in your region. The number of them is growing significantly as contemplative spirituality continues overtaking many denominations and ministries.
Symbols are keyholes to doors in the walls of space, and through them man peers into Eternity . . . Symbolism, then, is the divine language, and its figures are a celestial alphabet.1
. . . symbolical rites are the external expressions of man’s inward desire to unite with Divinity.2
Whilst we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for, they were clearly a symbol of the Christian way, representing the path of the soul through life.3
I was struck by the simplicity of the above statement: that labyrinths are “clearly a symbol of the Christian way.” This is an interesting position, especially given the fact that the authors of this particular quote admit, “we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for.”
We live in a day and age where many “new things” are sweeping through the Christian church. Some of these alternative directions are simply a reflection of changes in style and format. However, in our exploration towards alternative forms of spiritual expression, it is imperative that doctrinal discernment and discretionary principles come into play. This is especially true as society rapidly embraces a plethora of alternative spiritual practices, beliefs, and paths. Sadly, we as Christians often flounder in doing our homework, and in that vein we may inadvertently open our congregations to highly questionable choices and spiritual experiences.
Paradoxically, while the evangelical Christian community talks about “spiritual warfare” and “putting on the full armor of God,” many of these same churches can be found embracing that which they claim to counter. In seeking relevancy, we have become dangerously “experiential,” and old forms of mysticism are becoming centerpieces in “experiences of faith.”
The labyrinth prayer walk, which follows a single winding path to a central location, is a case in point, and I hope to show the reasons why Christians should not embrace this practice. Primarily jump-started by a UK-based Christian movement in alternative spiritual expressions and by an influential San Francisco cathedral, denominations around the world are embracing labyrinths as a viable part of the spiritual journey. But are labyrinths part of the Christian encounter, as suggested by the third introductory quote above?
My first experience with a labyrinth happened years before the idea become so popular in Christian circles. I was doing research work on occult philosophy at the Theosophical* headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois, and after spending a better part of the day reviewing esoteric literature, I went for a walk across the grounds to clear my head. There, toward the back of the property, was a labyrinth that had been set up as a place for spiritual release and expression.
As a Christian researcher and author on globalization and religious trends accompanying our changing international situation, I wasn’t surprised by the fact that a labyrinth was set up at this intensely “occult” location. It made perfect sense.
Understand, Christians looking for ways to bring in new relevancy within church worship did not rediscover the labyrinth as a spiritual tool. As we shall see, it’s been part of the esoteric world for a very long time. Which is why, today, labyrinth walks and “prayer journeys” are being promoted by Rosicrucian groups,4 at New Age festivals and celebrations5 and throughout the neo-pagan New Age world. Not surprisingly, one of America’s largest witch, shaman, and neo-pagan assemblies, the Pagan Spirit Gathering at Wisteria, OH, holds a nighttime Summer Solstice Labyrinth ritual, which is described as a “transformative, walking meditation through an all-night labyrinth formed by 1000 lighted candles.”6
Embarking on the Journey
Counter to the statement “we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for” is a wealth of literature, some easy to obtain, others that should be kept hidden on dusty shelves. This material paints a fascinating picture on the uses and purposes of the labyrinth as a conduit for the mystical. But before we venture down this path, it’s important that we journey into the recesses of ancient mythological history.
The primary historical focal point for the lore of the labyrinth goes back to Cretan and Greek tales of Queen Pasiphaë, her perverse sexual desire for a specific sacrificial bull, an abominable act of bestiality, and the birth of a strange hybrid offspring—the dreaded Minotaur, which lived in a labyrinth built to cage him.7
Each year, King Minos, the husband of Pasiphaë, demanded that seven boys and seven girls be given as a sacrificial tribute to be devoured by the Minotaur. One year, a hero named Theseus accompanied the children. Taking a ball of twine, he unravelled the string as he went through the labyrinth, giving him a trail leading back out. Once inside the labyrinth, Theseus followed the maze to its center, where he battled with the Minotaur and eventually beat the creature to death.
The labyrinth containing this Minotaur was not the typical single-path labyrinth of today but rather a complex maze containing halls and chambers. However, esoteric philosophers have long understood that the Minotaur maze directly corresponds to the ancient (and now modern) spiritually-connected labyrinth walk—the long soul journey with its many twists and turns, the ultimate arrival at the central convergence point, the struggle with the inner monster—and the final victory over the forces of darkness and ignorance (which can only happen when one is illumined at the center), and the repeated journey back to wholeness and the light of day. This esoteric significance of the Cretan story has never been lost on the initiates of the Mystery Schools.
Don’t forget, this Grecian/Cretan story was immersed in the pagan religious context of the day; that’s the metaphysical origin of the labyrinth as we can trace it. Hence, the story of Pasiphaë, with its labyrinth journey and inner battle, is of interest first and foremost to the world of occult lore for the simple reason that this is the intended context.
Following the Path
In following the path of knowledge concerning the spiritual uses of the labyrinth, one doesn’t have to go to the Pagan Spirit Gathering or delve deeply into occult literature (though, we will examine some esoteric writings). Plenty of information abounds in various reference works. Take, for instance, The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols.
In discussing the labyrinth as a religious tool, The Penguin Dictionary associates the maze (labyrinth) with the Buddhist Mandala—an aid in the spiritual initiatory journey. Consider the various other metaphysical interpretations of the labyrinth [note: square-bracketed comments indicate an explanation provided by this author]:
In the Kabbalistic tradition [the Kabbala is a series of texts which make up the school of Jewish mysticism] taken up by the alchemists, mazes filled a magical function which was one of the secrets attributed to Solomon. This is why the mazes in cathedrals, “those series of concentric circles broken at given points on the circumference to provide a strange and tangled pathway,” came to be called “Solomon’s Maze.”
The maze also takes one to the centre of one’s self, “to some hidden, inner shrine, occupied by the most mysterious portion” of the human personality. To reach the centre of the maze, like a stage in the process of initiation, is to be made a member of the invisible lodge [the high-calling of the Mystery Religions] which the maze-makers always shroud in mystery or, better still, have always been left to be filled by the finder’s own intuition.8
Jack Tresidder’s Dictionary of Symbols explains:
[M]any labyrinths are unicursal, having no traps but leading sinuously along a single path. These were often used in early temples as initiation routes or more widely for religious dances that imitated the weaving paths of the sun or planets. They reappeared in patterns on the floors of medieval Christian churches as “roads to Jerusalem”—paths symbolizing pilgrimage.9
Other reference works on symbols—and a labyrinth is both a spiritual tool and a religious symbol—give similar definitions (as an example, see The Herder Dictionary of Symbols). While the meanings are varied, they do pulse with a similar theme, even when associated with the early Roman Catholic cathedrals. And this theme is repeated and more deeply probed by esoteric philosophers and New Agers—it’s the path of mysticism, esotericism, and occultism.
Reaching the Center
If the labyrinth is a path leading to one specific point, what does the wayfarer expect to find when he or she arrives?
On the mystical journey to spiritual fulfillment, the middle-eye of the labyrinth becomes a place of divine illumination. Even Kimberly Lowelle Seward, the past president of The Labyrinth Society (a network of labyrinth scholars and enthusiasts) recognizes this basic function: “The labyrinth is an archetype of transformation. . . . [It] serves as a bridge from the mundane to the divine.10
The promotional website for the Breemie Labyrinth in the UK gives an almost identical explanation:
The labyrinth is an archetypal spiritual tool, found across many times and cultures. While a maze is a left-brain, rational puzzle, the labyrinth involves the right side of the brain, and helps us access our intuition, providing a portal to the Divine.11
Kathy Doore, an author on sacred spaces, freely describes the spiritual implications of the labyrinth:
Labyrinths are temples that enhance and balance and bring a sense of the sacred—a place where we can confirm our unity with the cosmos, awaken our vital force and elevate our consciousness. These structures are space/time temples where we can behold realities that oddly enough transcend space and time. The orientation, form and geometry of a labyrinth has symbolic as well as spacial importance. It is a mirror for the divine. . . .
Moving through a Labyrinth changes ordinary ways of perception connecting the inner and the outer, the right brain and the left brain, the involutional and the evolutional through a series of paths that represent the realms of the Gods and Goddesses. These realms are associated with planetary movement as a process that induces Union with the One.12
Divine illumination is the end-goal of esoteric philosophy; it’s the central arena of occultism. Manly P. Hall, one of the 20th century’s greatest esoteric philosophers and an eminent Masonic historian, tells us that the labyrinth was symbolic of man’s search for truth.13 Other occult scholars tell us that the labyrinth symbolized to the people “the difficulty of finding the Path to God.14 All of this points to the same thing—the mystical realization of our own divinity.
As Hall states in his book on Freemasonry:
Man is a god in the making, and as in the mystic myths of Egypt, on the potter’s wheel he is being molded. When his light shines out to lift and preserve all things, he receives the triple crown of godhood.15
Rosicrucian authority Christian Bernard explains this mystical goal as the building and unfolding of the inner Temple:
The Temple of the Universe, the Temple of the Earth and the Temple of Life are only one in the Temple of Man. This is why the time has come to work towards rebuilding it, for the Messianic Light must emanate from the Heavenly Jerusalem which vibrates within us.16
Laying it out very plainly, Annie Besant—an early Theosophical leader—simply said, “Man is not to be compelled; he is to be free. He is not a slave, but a God in the making.”17
Different Paths, Same Meaning
Part and parcel of labyrinth symbology is initiation, the mystical process of inner transformation. Robert Macoy’s Dictionary of Freemasonry, like so much of the esoteric literature, connects the meaning of the labyrinth with this concept. Defining the labyrinth, Macoy wrote, “In the ancient mysteries the passages through which the initiate made his mystical pilgrimage.”18
As stated above, initiation is the process of inner transformation. To that end, esoteric societies and occult orders employ initiation as a vital component to spiritual advancement. Indeed, initiation is the pathway, the journey, to mystical completeness. This is the occult metaphor of the labyrinth, a metaphor that is played out in a host of mystical similes. Consider the following archetypes. Keep in mind, each example is replete with historical and religious connections to the Mystery Religions, of which the labyrinth is but a part.19
Freemasonry: When the Masonic candidate undergoes his initiation, he is led on an invisible path from station to station throughout the Lodge room. Each point and part of this journey is given an esoteric explanation—that is, the real meanings are cloaked in allegory and symbolism. After completing the journey around the Lodge, he is led to the center of the room where he kneels before an altar. The Worshipful Master asks what the candidate most desires, and the initiate responds with “Light.”20 Know this, the light requested is not incandescent light or some other physical light energy, but spiritual illumination.21
Order of the Golden Dawn: Initiations rites such as the Ceremony of the Grade of Philosophus have the candidate embark on a spiritual journey, following an invisible yet tangible path throughout the Lodge room. This journey, like that of Freemasonry, is intended to elevate the candidate’s level of transformative enlightenment.22
Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis: In AMORC’s Temple ritual, Second Portal, the student partakes in an allegorical journey searching for light and knowledge. While engaged in the ritual, the student follows a path to each point on the compass, and returns to a central triangle. Again, like the two other illustrations above, this act is part of the mystical journey towards “light” and cosmic unity.23
Order of the Eastern Star: As a co-Masonic body, the OES engages in a series of ritualistic initiations. Unlike Freemasonry, the OES ritual work is performed on a giant floor-rug pentagram. This pentagram, with an altar placed in its center, is called a Labyrinth. Each of the various initiation rites—journeys on the path to greater understanding—takes place in and around this Labyrinth.24 Beulah Malone, Past Grand Matron and Secretary of the OES explains:
The winding in and out of the labyrinth symbolizes the human soul stumbling and struggling through life; learning by mistakes and experiences that the way leading to the supreme life and to God is not easy but is a way of testing one’s power and strength.
By following the examples symbolized in the lives of the heroines of our Order [This is part of the OES Labyrinth journey], we may come into a full light of His Star and into wisdom and understanding. The great magnet of our Star as it shines forth in the world is missioned to bring Unity, the Truth of Fatherhood of God, and Brotherhood of Man.25
And herein lies the deeper spiritual meaning of the labyrinth walk that has become so fashionable today: It’s the symbolic journey of illumination, completely spiritual in nature and dependent on our works—the “journey,” or the “testing [of] one’s power and strength.”
The path to the center of the labyrinth is as the invisible but tangible path leading to the esoteric altar; it’s an initiation into the mystical.
The Path of Completion: Returning from the Center
Hundreds of Christians have taken part in labyrinth prayer walks, and many churches across North America and Europe are embracing this tool as a means to expand their spiritual experience. The Rev. Jill Geoffrion, a “certified labyrinth facilitator” and author of such books as Christian Prayer and Labyrinths and Praying the Labyrinth, writes:
We are currently in a period of historic labyrinth revival. Churches, retreat centers and Christian camps are placing these prayer tools inside and outside. Christians all over the world are installing labyrinths in their yards and gardens. Many are using the labyrinths as a ministry tool, bringing portable versions to prisons, national denominational conferences and church group meetings. It is conservatively estimated that there are over 5,000 labyrinths in the United States alone. God is blessing the use of the labyrinth; many are being drawn closer to Jesus, experiencing healing and gaining spiritual clarity as they pray on its path.26
I must admit her pronouncement sounds appealing. But this particular statement by Geoffrion doesn’t paint the whole picture. On her labyrinth prayer website, Geoffrion offers suggested prayers for different labyrinth events. In dedicating a new labyrinth, she suggests that those in attendance form a circle on the pattern and extend “the energy that is in our hearts and minds through their hands towards the labyrinth.” Following this exercise is a meditative time where each person physically lays hands on the labyrinth and calls forth “the image of a loved one walking this labyrinth and receiving what is needed.” After more “imaging,” she recommends this responsive prayer:
Community: We dedicate this labyrinth to spiritual awakening and reawakening.
One: With hearts extending in many directions, Let us pray…Sacred Sustainer, Way to wholeness, Creator of possibilities, Supporter of change, Forgiving Releaser, Freedom, Honesty, Wisdom, Hope, Joy…we thank You for the beautiful spiritual tool on which we are standing.27
Geoffrion suggests other reflective meditations for the labyrinth, including short prayers from the “Christian Tradition,” “Egyptian Tradition,” “Hindu Tradition,” and “Sufi Tradition.”28
For Christians holding to the exclusive message of Jesus Christ in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me,” a serious rift is now encountered. It’s the dilemma that exists between what Geoffrion’s first quote described versus the religious pluralism that the labyrinth appears to propagate. And because of the nature and metaphysical history of the labyrinth, this spiritual pluralism is inescapable. However, this ever-widening religious inclusiveness—which is the expression of the esoteric idea of the Fatherhood of God—shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, in the labyrinth experience every path is relevant, every road is right, every religion is valid.
Granted, Geoffrion is but one spokesperson representing the Christian labyrinth prayer encounter. Grace Cathedral, however, carries a little more clout. In fact, Grace, San Francisco’s prominent Episcopal Church, has been North America’s “pathfinder” congregation in the labyrinth movement, hosting prayer walks on their two labyrinths for years. Moreover, Grace’s outdoor labyrinth is open 24 hours, and the church now has an involved global networking organization dedicated to advancing the labyrinth experience. Hence, Grace has been viewed by many Christian labyrinth advocates as the driving influence for this new spiritual expression in North America.
There’s no doubt that one reason for Grace Cathedral’s success is their connection to Chartres Cathedral in France. As an ancient medieval church, Chartres hosts an original pattern that is today’s recognized prototype for the Christian prayer walk. Grace meticulously copied Chartres, has marketed it very well, and is now a major spokes-church for the Chartres experience. Consider Grace’s website titled “Walking the Labyrinth: Reflections from Chartres,” which stated:
A profound meditation tool, a metaphor for the spiritual path, a feminist Christian icon, a symbol of Mary or even all Christianity, even perhaps an almost cult-like centerpiece of a movement—the labyrinth is, most everyone can agree, a powerful inspiration.29
Grace is open about the deeper meanings of the labyrinth. On the front piece to their labyrinth website, Grace states:
The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. By walking a replica of the Chartres labyrinth, laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France around 1220, we are rediscovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition that is insisting to be reborn.30
And Grace also points out that the labyrinth is a shared interspiritual esoteric tradition:
In Native American culture it is called the Medicine Wheel and Man in the Maze. The Celts described it as the Never Ending Circle. It is also called the Kabala in mystical Judaism. One feature they all share is that they have one path which winds in a circuitous way to the center.31
The labyrinth exercise, Grace further explains, should be viewed in three parts:
Purgation (Releasing)—A releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions. A time to open the heart and quiet the mind.
Illumination (Receiving)—When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
Union (Returning)—As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is joining God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul reaching for.32
As an institution, Grace is no ordinary church. Not only has it been extremely influential in propagating the labyrinth prayer walk, it has been a hotbed for global interfaith work.
In the 1990s, William Swing was Bishop of Grace. During the 1995 United Nations 50th Anniversary, Swing proclaimed that Grace would work towards the building of a global interfaith network. After an intense amount of travel and lobbying, Swing succeeded in forming the United Religions Initiative—one of the world’s leading UN affiliated inter-religious partnerships. Today, the URI is an active player in advancing global religious unity.
Why does this matter? Remember, between various esoteric philosophies and the labyrinth concept, a parallel runs between both themes—unity. As a spiritual interface, and as Grace Cathedral reminded us, the mystical labyrinth belongs to “all religious traditions.” Remember the Eastern Star’s labyrinth? Unity, the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of Man was the proclaimed magnetism of their Star. Manly P. Hall, speaking of the Masonic interfaith ideal of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, penned these words:
The true Mason is not creed-bound. He realizes with the divine illumination of his lodge that as a Mason his religion must be universal: Christ, Buddha or Mohammed, the name means little, for he recognizes only the light and not the bearer. He worships at every shrine, bows before every altar, whether in temple, mosque or cathedral, realizing with his truer understanding the oneness of all spiritual truth.33
This is the starting point of the occult concept of “the divine.” It tells us that every path on the journey is unique, yet each is true. In order for the mystic to move onward and upward, to return from the center of the labyrinth, he must accept his inner divinity. As Hall says, “[T]he way of salvation has been hidden within us.”34
Reiki master Kate McManus, in her article “Walking the Fire Labyrinth,” tells of her friend’s spiritual journey:
This year a friend mentioned an event that was to be held further out west a week after our winter magic festival. She described it as a fire labyrinth ritual in which a stone labyrinth would be lit at night to be walked with conscious intent and so mark the end of the year and begin a new one, a shedding of the old and birthing of the divine child.35
Years ago, Paul Clasper drew this religious inclusiveness into a completed package:
The new mingling of faiths will cause a fresh interpenetration of ideas and customs. Out of the encounter some paring of outmoded encrustations will perhaps take place. The new intercourse will fructify in more inclusive, universal faiths, perhaps even a new world faith as a basis for the coming world civilization.36
What Have we Learned?
In an earlier quote by the Rev. Jill Geoffrion, she proclaimed that “God is blessing the use of the labyrinth; many are being drawn closer to Jesus, experiencing healing and gaining spiritual clarity as they pray on its path.” On the surface this sounds great. But is God really blessing this “new thing”? Moreover, can God bless something that has its origins in esoteric doctrine and ancient pagan mythologies? Adding to its historical pagan significance is the fact that the labyrinth has never lost its occult meaning. As mentioned earlier in the article, labyrinths are still being used, and will continue to be used, as an instrument of pagan spirituality.
If God is going to bless labyrinth prayer journeys, how is He going to deal with Deuteronomy 12:1-14, 18:9-13 and Exodus 34:10-17? In each of these Scripture passages God explicitly tells His people to refrain from anything used in pagan practices. Moreover, the entire book of Jeremiah is a warning against involvement in alternative religious practices.
Furthermore, if God is going to bless labyrinth prayer journeys, how is He going to excuse the interfaith aspect that is common throughout the movement? John 14:6 clearly states that the only path to the Father is through Jesus Christ, and by no other way.
Beyond all of this, just as walking the labyrinth is used for initiation in cults, it serves as a catalyst to draw people into more serious forms of New Age or eastern-style meditation cloaked under terms like “the silence,” “centering prayer,” or “contemplative prayer.” Yes, the majority of Christians would affirm that their labyrinth prayer walk is completely focused on Jesus Christ. That may be true, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that the labyrinth is, by its theological nature, an inter-religious and deeply mystical device. If God is going to bless the labyrinth experience, how is He going to deal with 2 Corinthians 6:14-16?
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
To order copies of The Labyrinth Journey click here.
1. Manly P. Hall, Lectures on Ancient Philosophy (Philosophical Research Society, 1984), p. 357. Hall was one of the 20th century’s most celebrated esoteric philosophers, founder of the Philosophical Research Society, eminent Freemason, and a respected lecturer on occult doctrines and the Mystery Religions.
2. Roberta H. Lamerson, F.R.C. “Initiation” (Rosicrucian Digest, November, 1984), p. 21.
3. Kevin and Ana Draper, Steve Collins, and Jonny Baker, “Labyrinths and Mazes” (http://www.labyrinth.org.uk/historypage1.html). Website promoting labyrinths as an alternative Christian experience.
4. The Toronto lodge of the AMORC Rosicrucian order hosted a labyrinth journey the first Sunday of every other month (September, November, 2005; January, March, 2006). Location: Rosicrucian Regional Cultural Centre, 835 Broadview Ave, Toronto, ON.
5. See the Pagan Spirit Gathering website at https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/circle-magazine/sample-articles/solstice-fires-of-the-pagan-spirit-gathering. Another example is the Breemie Labyrinth Mid-Summer Festival at http://www.sacredway.co.uk/Breemie%20main/mhaydenlabs.htm.
6. See https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/pagan-spirit-gathering/rituals-and-celebrations.html.
7. Joseph Campbell, Occidental Mythology: The Masks of God (Arkana, 1991), p. 20. See also The Dictionary of World Myth (Facts on File, 1995), p.135. Other ancient labyrinth myths and stories exist that are rooted in Egyptian and various other Mesopotamian locations.
8. Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols (Penguin Books, 1996), pp. 643-644.
9. Jack Tresidder, Dictionary of Symbols (Chronicle Books, 1997), pp. 117-118.
10. The Labyrinth Society, http://www.labyrinthsociety.org.
11. See footnote 5.
12. Kathy Doore, “Myth and History of Labyrinths”(“Official Blog of Kathy Doore,” http://www.labyrinthina.com/path.htm).
13. Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages (Philosophic Research Society, 1989).
14. C.W. Leadbeater, Ancient Mystic Rites (Quest Books, 1986), p. 51.
15. Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (Macoy, 1951), p. 92.
16. Christian Bernard, So Mote It Be! (AMORC, 1995), pp. 87-88.
17. Annie Besant, Esoteric Christianity (Quest Books, 1966), p. 220.
18. Robert Macoy, A Dictionary of Freemasonry (Gramercy), p. 215.
19. Historians and occult philosophers who assert this link between the Mystery Religions and today’s esoteric societies include Manly P. Hall, Foster Bailey, Albert Pike, C.W. Leadbeater, Israel Regardie, Papus, A.E. Waite, Eliphas Levi, J.D. Buck, Albert Mackey, H.P. Blavatsky, Henry C. Clausen, George H. Steinmetz, Joseph Fort Newton, and many others.
20. See Look to the East: A Ritual of the First Three Degrees of Masonry. See also Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor and Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma.
21. Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 252 and Foster Bailey, The Spirit of Masonry, p. 108.
22. See Israel Regardie’s The Golden Dawn and What You Should Know About the Golden Dawn.
23. Rosicrucian Initiation, Temple Section, Second Portal, AMORC.
24. See Beulah H. Malone, Let There Be Light; see also Robert Macoy, Adoptive Rite Ritual; Ritual of the Order of the Eastern Star, published by the authority of the General Grand Chapter Order of the Eastern Star.
25. Beulah H. Malone, Let There Be Light (Masonic Home Print Shop,1958), p. 97.
26. Jill Kimberly Hartwell Geoffrion, Christian Uses of Labyrinths (http://library.stkate.edu/pdf/trw%20lab-christian%20uses.pdf).
27. Jill Geoffrion, Dedication of Deep Haven Labyrinth (article no longer available online).
28. Jill Geoffrion, “Prayers from Varying Traditions to Use at a Labyrinth” (http://web.archive.org/web/20101229071645/http://www.jillgeoffrion.com/prayers4labusedifreltrad.html). I give Geoffrion sarcasm credit; she includes a short prayer from the American Secular Tradition—“whatever!”
29. Grace Cathedral, Walking the Labyrinth .
30. Grace Cathedral labyrinth homepage: http://www.gracecathedral.org/labyrinth.
33. Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (Macoy Publishing, 1923/1951), p.65.
34. Manly P. Hall, The Mystical Christ (Philosophical Research Society, 1951), p. 248.
35. Kate McManus, “Walking the Fire Labyrinth: A Winter Solstice Encounter” (http://healing.about.com/od/labyrinthspiritual/a/firelabyrinth.htm).
36. Paul Clasper, Eastern Paths and the Christian Way (Orbis Books, 1980), p.108.
To order copies of The Labyrinth Journey click here.
* Theosophy is a blend of mystical traditions, ancient mystery religions, and eastern philosophies.
LTRP Note: The following news story is posted for informational and research purposes only and not as an endorsement of the content. This is another example of how Christian leaders and figures are leading the way in bringing the evangelical/Protestant church “back to the Roman Catholic Mother Church.” It was just a few months ago that Amy Grant and numerous other well-known Christian musicians (including Chuck Girard, Dallas Holm, Michael W. Smith and Nicole Mullen) stood on stage with New Age sympathizer and Roman Catholic Roma Downey in an ecumenical concert saying “we are united.” A number of years ago, when Rob Bell was still pastor at Mars Hill in Michigan, he invited one of the Dominican Sisters of Mary to speak at his church. You can listen to a little of that service here where Bell and the Sister are leading the congregation through a contemplative practice.
“Thousands Flock to Michigan for Faith-filled Family Concert”
YPSILANTI, Mich., April 22, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ — The first major concert for The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, enjoyed widespread success Sunday April 19 in Ypsilanti, MI. The Unite, Disciples of Christ concert at Eastern Michigan University, hosted by the Dominican Sisters of Mary and Spiritus Sanctus Academy brought together 4,000 attendees of all ages and backgrounds from all over the Midwest. The benefit concert featured some of the top names in the Christian music industry: Amy Grant, Matt Maher, Sanctus Real, Ike Ndolo, Jon Guerra and the Dominican Sisters of Mary. The acclaimed line-up performed for a captivated crowd for over 5 hours including special performances, which included all of the artists on stage together.
The press supported the Unite Concert as Amy Grant and Sr. John Dominic were guests on Kresta in The Afternoon, which is heard nationwide on Sirius/XM and Ave Maria Radio. The entire interview is available here. Additional coverage was also given by Son Rise Morning Show, Proclaim FM in Toledo, WMUZ in Detroit, The Michigan Catholic, Christian Review, and Smile FM, among others. Click here to continue reading this article.
Dr. Oz Accused of Medical “Quackery” While His New Age/Spiritual “Quackery” Goes Unaddressed by Rick Warren and the Church
Major secular and Christian news media sources are reporting on an effort by 10 doctors to oust celebrity doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz, from his faculty position at Columbia University for what the doctors are calling “egregious lack of integrity” and promoting “quack treatments.” The ten doctors wrote a letter to New York’s Columbia University, calling Dr. Oz a quack and an endangerment to his followers for advice he gives about diet and health-related issues. A few reports are coming out stating that at least some of these 10 doctors may not be all that reputable and intentions may have more to do with Dr. Oz’s stance against GMOs and pesticides in food than in does telling his audience how to diet and lose weight. One thing is most likely given Dr. Oz’s high popularity, this will be a story that will stay in the secular headlines for quite awhile.
Amidst this media blitz focusing on some of Dr. Oz’s questionable medical practices, there is another side of this story that has affected mainstream Christianity. Rick Warren and the church seem to be totally unphased by Dr. Oz’s New Age occult spiritual practices. Author Warren B. Smith states that for Rick Warren to invite Dr. Oz into the church (through the Daniel Plan) is “the inconceivable equivalent of the first century church inviting Simon the sorcerer into the church to help it become more healthy.”
Dr. Oz has involved himself with a number of occultic practices, one being his association with psychic John Edwards who supposedly helps people to talk to their dead loved ones. Oz and Edwards did one TV show together titled “Psychic Mediums: Are They the New Therapists? Find Out if Talking to the Dead Is a New Form of Therahttp://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/wp-admin/post.php?post=17243&action=edit&message=1#py,” in which the answer to this question from both men was YES. Oz has also written the forewords to a number of New Age and occultic books including Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation and Quantum Wellness: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to Health and Happiness.
What would the Old Testament prophet Daniel have thought to know that his name is used in a diet plan that was created by New Age occultic teachers such as Dr. Oz. In the appendix of Warren B. Smith’s book A “Wonderful” Deception and in Smith’s booklet Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan: The New Age/Eastern Meditation Doctors Behind the Saddleback Health Plan, Warren Smith states:
One can only wonder if the prophet Daniel’s vision of the end days included a look at Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan—a compromised pastor and three New Age doctors with their psychics, spirit guides, tantric sex, necromancy, Yoga, Reiki, Transcendental and Kundalini “sa ta na ma” meditations and more—all in Daniel’s name. If so, it is no wonder the Bible records that he “fainted” and became “sick” for a number of days (Daniel 8:27).
Rick Warren has put countless unsuspecting people in harm’s way through his Daniel Plan and brought in “doctrines of devils,” which inadvertently undermines the Gospel. The Gospel message that is presented in the Bible is the antithesis of New Age teaching that says man is God and in no need of a Savior.
Below is a reposting of Warren B. Smith’s article/booklet titled Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan – The New Age/Eastern Meditation Doctors Behind the Saddleback Health Plan:
By Warren B. Smith
Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.—(2 Corinthians 2:11)
Who would have believed it? Occult/New Age doctors being invited into the church to teach Christians how to be healthy? On January 15, 2011 a fifty-two week health and wellness program—the Daniel Plan—was initiated at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. More than six thousand people attended the well promoted and carefully staged event. Warren took the opportunity to announce that his own personal goal was to lose 90 pounds in 2011. The Daniel Plan website states that “the Daniel Plan envisions starting a movement so the result is better physical and spiritual health for current and future generations.”1 It describes how Rick Warren “recruited three best-selling authors” to create and oversee the Daniel Plan Curriculum—Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hyman.2 Although these three physicians are all involved with New Age teachings, they describe themselves respectively as a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew.
On their church’s Daniel Plan website, Saddleback pastor Brandon Cox tried to defend Rick Warren’s indefensible decision to recruit three New Age doctors to implement a Christian health and wellness program. In his “Pastoral Response” to the question “Why did Saddleback Church choose to use these Doctors who have been linked to other beliefs?,” Cox wrote:
“Pastor Rick knows each of these Doctors personally and has the utmost trust in their ability to advise us about matters related to physical health.” In a statement reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood’s “grandmother,” Cox goes on to state: “These Doctors are helping us as friends, but are in no way advising our church on spiritual matters.”3
By repeating and emphasizing the term “physical health” three times in the response, Saddleback was obviously trying to distance itself from Oz, Amen, and Hyman’s New Age beliefs. But the “we’re only using them for physical health purposes” defense was not convincing. All three physicians are alternative medicine/holistic health practitioners who teach the indivisibility of “mind, body, spirit” in achieving optimum well-being. In other words, their New Age spiritual beliefs are necessarily embedded in their medical practice, their best-selling books, and their public appearances.
Dr. Mehmet Oz
Dr. Oz is the cardiovascular surgeon who was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show for five years before gaining his own popular daytime TV show. He also has a daily talk show on Oprah & Friends satellite radio and writes columns for several magazines including Oprah’s O Magazine. Operating out of Columbia University’s Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Oz is like a modern-day shaman as he mixes traditional medicine with a wide variety of occult/New Age practices. In The Way of the Shaman, a “foremost resource and reference on shamanism,” Michael Harner—an anthropologist who “has practiced shamanism and shamanic healing” for several decades4—gives the following definition of a shaman:
A shaman is a man or woman who enters an altered state of consciousness—at will—to contact and utilize an ordinarily hidden reality in order to acquire knowledge, power, and to help other persons. The shaman has at least one, and usually more, “spirits” in his personal service.5
The following is a sampling of what Dr. Oz subtly, and not so subtly, incorporates into his medical practice and into his life. For instance, Dr. Oz’s prominent endorsement is displayed on the front cover of self-described psychic Ainslie MacLeod’s book The Instruction: Living the Life Your Soul Intended. Juxtaposing the phrase “spiritual well-being” with the word “purpose,” Oz writes:
I recommend this book to those who seek greater spiritual well-being and a better understanding of their life’s purpose.6
In Oz’s endorsement of another Ainslie MacLeod book, The Transformation: Healing Your Past Lives to Realize Your Soul’s Potential, Dr. Oz makes it clear that his approach to physical health is inextricably bound up with his beliefs regarding spiritual health. They cannot be neatly separated out as Rick Warren’s Saddleback staff would have everyone believe. Dr. Oz’s front cover endorsement states:
Ainslie MacLeod is at the frontier of exploration into the soul and its profound influence on our physical selves.7
In The Transformation, MacLeod’s spirit guides tell MacLeod’s readers “that we are standing on the brink of the greatest leap in human consciousness in 55,000 years.”8 Later, in a psychic reading that MacLeod gives to one of his clients, his spirit guides refer his client to Dr. Daniel Amen for help.9 Amen, of course being one of the other two Daniel Plan physicians. In The Instruction, among other things, MacLeod teaches readers how to meditate and contact spirit guides. In fact, spirit guides are referred to a whopping 175 times in the book—40 times before you even get to Chapter One. In his introduction, MacLeod describes how the skeptic in him used to read a book like his and think—“Who died and made this guy an expert?” In his own case, MacLeod said the answer was his spirit guides—one of them being his deceased Uncle John.10
Dr. Oz’s New Age affinity for psychics, spirit guides, past lives, and contacting the dead was showcased on his March 15, 2011 program—just two months after the launch of the Daniel Plan—titled, “Psychic Mediums: Are they the New Therapists?” The promo on his website read: “Can talking to lost loved ones heal your grief? Hear why psychic John Edward believes you can talk to the dead.”11
On a January 6, 2010 Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Oz revealed what he believed to be “the most important alternative medicine treatment” for his viewers in that coming year. His #1 “Oz’s Order” was to “Try Reiki”12—an occult bodywork practice that incorporates the channeled guidance of spirit guides. Dr. Oz was reported in one press release as stating: “Reiki is one of my favorites, we’ve been using it for years in the Oz family, and we swear by it.”13
On a video on Dr. Oz’s website, New Age leader Deepak Chopra teaches viewers how to meditate.14 Chopra’s 2009 book Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul features Dr. Oz’s back cover endorsement.15 Dr. Oz is a personal practitioner of Transcendental Meditation,16 which was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He has also practiced Yoga for over twenty years17 and is devoted to the New Age teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg—teachings that resonate with the mystical Sufi branch of the Muslim faith that he and his wife most identify with.18
Dr. Oz wrote the Foreword to US—a New Age book written by his wife Lisa, who is a Reiki Master19—a book that opens with a quote on oneness by New Age patriarch Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. In his Foreword, Oz credits his wife’s spiritual influence while also mentioning that a number of years ago he “matriculated at Oprah University.”20 Dr. Oz endangers those who put their trust in him by interjecting his occult/New Age beliefs into his medical practice.
Presumably, the “Open Heart meditation” given to Ainslie MacLeod by his spirit guides21 is not used by Dr. Oz before he does open heart surgery. One thing is for spiritual sure, Dr. Oz may be a skilled cardiovascular surgeon, but spiritually he is overlooking one of the most important aspects of the heart. God, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, warns, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Multiple references in the Bible also warn about the extremely dangerous and deceptive nature of “familiar” and “seducing” spirits that Dr. Oz is in the process of normalizing through his extreme influence in the world and now in the church (see Leviticus 19:31; Deuteronomy 18:10-12; 1 Timothy 4:1, etc.).
Dr. Daniel Amen
Dr. Amen is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, best-selling author, and medical director of the Amen Clinics for Behavioral Medicine. In his book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, he encourages readers to “Learn and use self-hypnosis and meditation on a daily basis.”22 In Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, Amen, a self-professed Christian, specifically recommends a Hindu Kundalini form of meditation called Kirtan Kriya. He instructs his readers to chant “sa ta na ma” repeatedly while simultaneously doing repetitive finger movements.23 In a New Age world that says “everything happens for a reason” and “there are no accidents,” the first five letters of this Hindu meditation spell the name of Satan. The last three letters just so happen to be the abbreviated letters of the American Medical Association (AMA). Is this pure coincidence, some kind of cosmic joke, or spiritual mockery?
In his book The Brain in Love (formerly titled Sex on the Brain), Dr. Amen recommends tantric sex to his readers. He writes that tantra “is a term applied to several schools of Hindu yoga in which sex is worshipped.”24 He states that “[s]ome tantra yoga teachers recommend meditative practices that also share elements with Kundalini yoga, where subtle streams of energy are raised in the body by means of posture, breath control, and movements.”25 He later adds:
After you have agreed to safe boundaries, you can take sex to a new level by investing in a few books or magazines. I write for Men’s Health magazine and it is always filled with great sex tips for couples. Cosmopolitan and other magazines have playful ideas as well. Books on tantric sex or role-playing games can also be fun.”26
Dr. Amen’s fascination with tantric sex and Kundalini yoga is very similar to the teachings of Indian gurus like Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and Swami Baba Muktananda. Dr. Amen’s New Age sympathies are also evident in his willingness to write the Foreword to author Lucinda Bassett’s The Solution. In her book, Bassett quotes New Age leaders Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, the Dalai Lama, Neale Donald Walsch, and others. She describes Walsch as “a spiritual messenger whose best-selling books and lectures profoundly touch the world.”27
Dr. Mark Hyman
Dr. Hyman is the chairman of the Institute of Functional Medicine and author of the best-selling book The UltraMind Solution. With its front cover endorsement by Dr. Mehmet Oz, The UltraMind Solution offers practical medical advice while at the same time recommending a number of New Age resources to his readers. For example, he recommends the website of New Age author and guided imagery proponent Belleruth Naparstek.28 Her books and materials are designed to help people meditate, become more psychic, and connect with spirit guides. Her website describes how her materials are used worldwide by patients, hospitals, HMO’s, government agencies, etc. Dr. Hyman and New Age leader Dr. Bernie Siegel are listed as two of Naparstek’s “contributing health and mind-body health practitioners.”29 Siegel, of course being the New Age leader Rick Warren used to introduce the idea of hope and purpose in The Purpose-Driven Life. Like Dr. Oz and Dr. Amen, Dr. Hyman recommends meditation and yoga to his readers.30
Dr. Hyman endorsed a New Age book titled Power Up Your Brain—The Neuroscience of Enlightenment. It is co-authored by shaman/medium Alberto Villoldo and neurologist David Perlmutter. The Foreword from the publisher states:
And now two men, two seers—a shaman and a scientist—are combining their experiences and expertise to explore the totality that includes all of the spirit world and all of the scientific world—as One.31
David Perlmutter writes:
For it had become clear to us that access to the Great Spirit or Divine Energy—that natural force which is called by so many names—is available to all. In a sense we are all shamans, and the most advanced teachings in cellular biology are validating lifestyle activities that for centuries, have been paving the way to enlightenment through meditative practices not just for the chosen few but for all who care to learn. Our collaboration explores the implications of this not only for individuals but for all of humanity.32
Villoldo—who spoke at a 2011 Palm Springs Prophets Conference with New Age leader Barbara Marx Hubbard33— writes:
During my years studying with the shamans, I learned about their belief in the Divine Mother, which we each have the potential to discover in nature. This was not the bearded old man whose image I had come to associate with “God.” Rather, this was a force that infused all creation, a sea of energy and consciousness that we all swim in and are part of. I came to understand that our Western notions of the divine are perhaps a masculine version of this life force that infuses every cell in our bodies, that animates all living beings, and that even fuels stars.34
Power Up Your Brain includes a chapter recommending various “Shamanic Exercises” that include an invocation to the “Great Serpent.”35 Dr. Hyman’s back cover endorsement of this book sits alongside New Age leaders Bernie Siegel and Greg Braden.
In his endorsement, Hyman betrays his belief in shamanism and the inextricable New Age link between physical and spiritual health. He writes:
The shaman and physician for millennia were the same person until the 19th century when they were split apart in the name of science. Now through the lens of 21st-century science, Villoldo and Perlmutter bring them back together, illuminating the web that links together our physical and metaphysical energy. For anyone feeling a loss of energy of body or soul, Power Up Your Brain is your guide to restoration and rejuvenation of your deepest energies.
Also referring to “restoration” in The UltraMind Solution, Dr. Hyman lists three New Age centers in his “Resources” section. Under the heading of “Restorative and Educational Retreats,” he recommends the Omega Institute, the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, and the Shambhala Mountain Center.36 Ainslie MacLeod—the Dr. Oz endorsed psychic—is a “faculty member” at both the Kripalu Center and the Omega Institute.37 The Omega Institute offers a number of workshops led by key New Age leaders like Neale Donald Walsch, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, and Alberto Villoldo. Classes such as “Conversations with God,” “Contacting the Spirit World,” “How Shamans Dream the World into Being,” and “Bootcamp for Goddesses,” are readily available to those following Dr. Hyman’s advice.38 And at the Dr. Hyman endorsed Kripalu Center, New Age leader Deepak Chopra offers a workshop on his Dr. Oz endorsed book, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul. In case people can’t make it to Saddleback Church, Dr. Daniel Amen also teaches a workshop at Kripalu.
Key Scriptures Regarding Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. —(2 Corinthians 6:14)
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. —(Ephesians 5:11)
Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. —(1 Corinthians 10:21)
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. —(Romans 14:13)
Shepherding the Church into a New Age/New Spirituality
In the 1990s, a well-known Christian leader rightly warned that alternative medicine and holistic health can provide an easy entryway for deceptive New Age teachings. He further warned that changing your diet can also end up changing your worldview. In other words, sometimes losing weight can also mean losing your soul. Speaking from his leadership role with the Christian Medical Association, Dr. David Stevens also urges great discretion regarding alternative health practitioners. He states: “Not only do we have to make a choice; we also have to evaluate the trustworthiness of each messenger and the validity of the message.”39
The Christian Handbook to Alternative Medicine also warns, “Consider carefully not only the therapy but also the character and worldview of those offering the treatment.”40 Thus, it is definitely “buyer beware” when it comes to mixed-bag physicians like Oz, Amen, and Hyman. But that doesn’t seem to matter to Rick Warren as he openly aligns himself with these New Age doctors and promises to make their joint Daniel Plan a worldwide phenomenon. Instead of sounding a warning trumpet and protecting the church from three New Age physicians, Warren praises them and trumpets his ungodly alliance with them.
One can only wonder if the prophet Daniel’s vision of the end days included a look at Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan—a compromised pastor and three New Age doctors with their psychics, spirit guides, tantric sex, necromancy, Yoga, Reiki, Transcendental and Kundalini “sa ta na ma” meditations and more—all in Daniel’s name. If so, it is no wonder the Bible records that he “fainted” and became “sick” for a number of days (Daniel 8:27).
It doesn’t make any difference in God’s scheme of things if Rick Warren stands slim and trim in front of an adoring church audience after losing 90 pounds. What may be remembered is that in the midst of all the self-congratulatory statistics and frenzied media hoopla, a finger suddenly appeared on the wall behind Rick Warren and wrote the following:
Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. —(Daniel 5:27)
To order copies of Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan, click here.
1. Week 11: Re-Focusing The Daniel Plan (http://danielplan.com/blogs/dp/dp-week-11-re-focusing-the-daniel-plan).
2. The Daniel Plan: What Makes it Different? (http://www.saddleback.com/thedanielplan/healthyhabits/whatsdifferent).
3. Pastoral Response, Brandon Cox, Saddleback Church (http://www.danielplan.com/toolsandresources/pastoralresponse).
4. Michael Harner, Ph.D., The Way of the Shaman (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1980, 1990), back cover.
5. Ibid., p. 25.
6. Ainslie MacLeod, The Instruction: Living the Life Your Soul Intended (Boulder, CO: Sounds True, Inc., 2007, 2009), front cover.
7. Ainslie MacLeod, The Transformation: Healing Your Past Lives to Realize Your Soul’s Potential (Boulder, CO: Sounds True, Inc., 2010), front cover.
8. Ibid., front flap.
9. Ibid., pp. 243-244.
10. Ainslie MacLeod, The Instruction, op. cit., pp. 9, 12.
11. “Psychic Mediums: Are they the New Therapists?,” The Dr. Oz Show, aired 3/15/11 (http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/are-psychicsnew-therapists-pt-1).
12. “‘Try Reiki,’ Dr. Oz Tells Millions on TV,” 1/9/10, The Reiki Digest (http://reikidigest.blogspot.com/2010/01/try-reiki-dr-oz-tells-millions-on-tv.html).
13. “Dr. Mehmet Oz Declares Reiki as His #1 Alternative Medicine Secret,” 1/9/2010, Bio-Medicine (http://news.bio-medicine.org/?q=medicine-news-1/dr–mehmet-oz-declares-reiki-as-his–231-alternative-medicine-secret–64270).
14. “Meditation Techniques Demonstrated by Deepak Chopra,” The Dr. Oz Show, added to videos on 2/25/10, (http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/deepak-chopra-meditation).
15. Deepak Chopra, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul: How to Create a New You (New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, Inc., 2009).
16. AARP The Magazine, May/June 2010 issue, p. 82.
18. Lisa Oz, US: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships That Matter Most (New York, NY: Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2010), p. 179.
19. “‘Try Reiki,’ Dr. Oz Tells Millions on TV,” op. cit.
20. Lisa Oz, US, op. cit., p. x.
21. Ainslie MacLeod, The Instruction, op. cit., p. 17.
22. Daniel G. Amen, M.D., Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (New York, NY: Times Books, a division of Random House, Inc., 1998), p. 302.
23. Daniel G. Amen, M.D., Change Your Brain, Change Your Body (New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, Inc., 2010), p. 223.
24. Daniel G. Amen, M.D., The Brain in Love (New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, Inc., 2007), p. 144.
25. Ibid., p. 145.
26. Ibid., p. 148.
27. Lucinda Bassett, The Solution: Conquer Your Fear, Control Your Future (New York: NY: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2011), p. 146.
28. Mark Hyman M.D., The UltraMind Solution (New York, NY: Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2009), p. 402. (Belleruth Naparstek’s website recommended by Dr. Hyman: http://www.healthjourneys.com).
29. Our Practitioner Bios, Health Journeys (http://www.healthjourneys.com/practitioner_bios.asp).
30. Mark Hyman, The UltraMind Solution, op. cit., p. 384.
31. David Perlmutter, M.D., F.A.C.N., Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D., Power Up Your Brain: The Neuroscience of Enlightenment (New York, NY: Hay House, Inc., 2011), p. xiv.
32. Ibid., p. xviii.
33. The Prophets Conference (http://www.greatmystery.org).
34. David Perlmutter, Alberto Villoldo, Power Up Your Brain, op. cit., p. xxi.
35. Ibid., p. 154.
36. Mark Hyman, The UltraMind Solution, op. cit., p. 403.
37. Ainslie MacLeod, The Transformation, op. cit., About the Author, p. 327.
38. Omega Institute (http://www.eomega.org).
39. Donald O’Mathuna, Ph.D. and Walt Larimore, M.D., Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001, 2007), p. 9.
40. Ibid., p. 123.
To order copies of Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan, click here.