Archive for the ‘Spiritual Formation’ Category
There’s a lot of talk about it today; umpteen books are published and more are on the way about lectio divina; and an increasing number of evangelical/Protestant figures are writing about it, endorsing it, and teaching it. Some people think lectio divina simply means to read a passage of Scripture slowly (or “praying the Scriptures”) then ponder or think on that Scripture. That can be a part of it. But if you ask mystics or contemplatives what it really entails (And who would know better than they?), they will tell you that lectio divina (pronounced lex-ee-o di-veen-a) always includes taking a passage of Scripture (or other writings), reading it slowly, and repeating it as you work your way down to where you have just a word or small phrase from the passage that you are “meditating” on (repeating over and over). Basically, you are coming up with a mantra-like word or phrase that has been extracted from a passage of Scripture, which, according to contemplatives, if repeated for several minutes, will help you get rid of thoughts and distractions, so then, they say, you can hear the voice of God and feel His presence (going into the silence).
There are said to be four steps in lectio divina. These four steps are:
Reading (lectio)—Slowly begin reading a biblical passage as if it were a long awaited love letter addressed to you. Approach it reverentially and expectantly, in a way that savors each word and phrase. Read the passage until you hear a word or phrase that touches you, resonates, attracts, or even disturbs you.
Reflecting (meditatio)—Ponder this word or phrase for a few minutes. Let it sink in slowly and deeply until you are resting in it. Listen for what the word or phrase is saying to you at this moment in your life, what it may be offering to you, what it may be demanding of you.
Expressing (oratio)—If you are a praying person, when you are ready, openly and honestly express to God the prayers that arise spontaneously within you from your experience of this word or phrase. These may be prayers of thanksgiving, petition, intercession, lament, or praise. If prayer is not part of your journey you could write down the thoughts that have come your way.
Resting (contemplatio)—Allow yourself to simply rest silently for a time in the stillness of your heart remaining open to the quiet fullness of God’s love and peace. This is like the silence of communion between the mother holding her sleeping infant child or between lovers whose communication with each other passes beyond words.1
Catholic priest and contemplative mysticism pioneer Thomas Keating explains what lectio divina is not in an article he has written titled “The Classical Monastic Practice of Lectio Divina.” He explains that lectio divina is not traditional Bible study, not reading the Scriptures for understanding and edification, and not praying the Scriptures (though praying the Scriptures can be a form of lectio divina when a word or phrase is taken from the Scriptures to focus on for the purpose of going into “God’s presence”).2 Keating says that lectio divina is an introduction into the more intense practices—contemplative prayer and centering prayer.
While some people think lectio divina is just reading Scripture slowly (and what’s wrong with that), it is the focusing on and repeating a word or small phrase to facilitate going into the “silence” that is the real danger. There is certainly nothing wrong with reading Scripture carefully and thoughtfully. Thoughtfully, we say. In eastern-style meditation (and in contemplative prayer) thoughts are the enemy. Eastern-style mystic Anthony De Mello describes this problem with thoughts in his book Sadhana: A Way to God:
To silence the mind is an extremely difficult task. How hard it is to keep the mind from thinking, thinking, thinking, forever thinking, forever producing thoughts in a never ending stream. Our Hindu masters in India have a saying: one thorn is removed by another. By this they mean that you will be wise to use one thought to rid yourself of all the other thoughts that crowd into your mind. One thought, one image, one phrase or sentence or word that your mind can be made to fasten on.3
Spiritual director Jan Johnson in her book, When the Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer also believes that thoughts get in the way, and the mind must be stilled:
Contemplative prayer, in its simplest form, is a prayer in which you still your thoughts and emotions and focus on God Himself. This puts you in a better state to be aware of God’s presence, and it makes you better able to hear God’s voice, correcting, guiding, and directing you.4
Mark Yaconelli, author of Contemplative Youth Ministry: Practicing the Presence of Jesus, has this to say about lectio divina. Keep in mind that Yaconelli’s materials are used in evangelical/Protestant settings (e.g., colleges, seminaries, youth groups):
In order to practice lectio divina, select a time and place that is peaceful and in which you may be alert and prayer fully attentive. Dispose yourself for prayer in whatever way is natural for you. This may be a spoken prayer to God to open you more fully to the Spirit, a gentle relaxation process that focuses on breathing, singing or chanting, or simply a few minutes of silence to empty yourself of thoughts, images, and emotions.5
Research analyst Ray Yungen explains this silence that contemplative mystics seek:
When [Richard] Foster speaks of the silence, he does not mean external silence. In his book, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Foster recommends the practice of breath prayer6—picking a single word or short phrase and repeating it in conjunction with the breath. This is classic contemplative mysticism. . . . In Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, [Foster] ties in a quote by one mystic who advised, “You must bind the mind with one thought”7 . . . I once related Foster’s breath prayer method to a former New Age devotee who is now a Christian. She affirmed this connection when she remarked with astonishment, “That’s what I did when I was into ashtanga yoga!”8
With lectio divina, the word or phrase one repeats eventually can lose its meaning, and this repetitive sound can start to put the practitioner into an altered mind state. Yungen tells us that:
Keeping the mind riveted on only one thought is unnatural and adverse to true reflection and prayer. Simple logic tells us the repeating of words has no rational value. For instance, if someone called you on the phone and just said your name or one phrase over and over, would that be something you found edifying? Of course not; you would hang up on him or her. Why would God feel otherwise? And if God’s presence is lacking, what is this presence that appears as light during meditation and infuses a counterfeit sense of divinity within?9
Yungen exhorts believers that: “the goal of prayer should not be to bind the mind with a word or phrase in order to induce a mystical trance but rather to use the mind to glory in the grace of God. This was the apostle Paul’s counsel to the various churches: ‘Study to shew thyself approved’ (2 Tim. 2:15) and ‘we pray always’ (2 Thessalonians 1:11) as in talking to God with both heart and mind.”10
In order to help those you care about stay clear of contemplative spirituality and spiritual deception, it is important for you to understand how lectio divina plays a significant role in leading people toward full blown meditative practices. And we propose that this “presence” that is reached during the “silent” altered states of consciousness from saying a word or phrase over and over (or focusing on the breath or an object) is not God’s presence. God has instructed us in the Bible not to perform “special kinds of process[es]” or “formula[s],”11 as Thomas Keating calls lectio divina, to induce mystical experiences (see Deuteronomy 18:9-11); thus, we believe ample warning about lectio divina is warranted.
In conclusion, lectio divina is a bridge to eastern-style meditation. If indeed, this is true, then it will lead Christians away from the message of the Cross and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and thus Christians should not practice lectio divina. Do you know where practices such as lectio divina took Thomas Keating in his spirituality? When you read the statement by him below, you can see the answer to this:
We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible.
Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices, especially where they have been initiated by reliable teachers and have a solidly developed Christian faith to find inner form and meaning to the resulting experiences.12
To order copies of LECTIO DIVINA-What it is, What it is not, and Should Christians Practice it? in booklet form, click here.
1. Taken from: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/lectiodivina.htm.
2. Thomas Keating, “The Classical Monastic Practice of Lectio Divina” (http://web.archive.org/web/20120201174238/http://www.crossroadshikers.org/LectioDevina.htm).
3. Anthony de Mello, Sadhana: A Way to God (St. Louis, the Institute of Jesuit Resources, 1978), p. 28.
4. Jan Johnson, When the Soul Listens (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1999), p. 16.
5. Mark Yaconelli, http://web.archive.org/web/20080724110254/http://www.ymsp.org/resources/practices/lectio_divina.html.
6. Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1992), p. 122.
7. Ibid., p. 124.
8. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2006), p. 75.
9. Ibid., p. 76.
10. Ibid., p. 75.
11. Keating, “The Classical Monastic Practice of Lectio Divina,” op. cit.
12. M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating, Thomas E. Clarke, Finding Grace at the Center (Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Pub., 1978), pp. 5-6.
To order copies of LECTIO DIVINA-What it is, What it is not, and Should Christians Practice it? in booklet form, click here.
Be Still and Know That You are Not God!—God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything by Warren B. Smith is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 16 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 Be Still and Know That You are Not God!—God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything,” click here.
Be Still and Know That You are Not God!—God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything
By Warren B. Smith
Our Spiritual Adversary would have everyone believe that we are all “one” because God is “in” everyone and everything. Using every promotional means possible—including a creative and ingenious perversion of quantum physics—he is attempting to convince the world and the church that while Jesus was Christ, so is everyone. And while Jesus was God, so is everyone else. To underscore this heretical New Age doctrine of God and Christ “in” everyone, he would have us further believe that nothing of any significance happened on the Cross of Calvary. However, the Bible makes it very clear that something extremely wonderful and overwhelmingly significant did happen on the Cross of Calvary. For it was on that Cross that Jesus Christ died to save the world as He defeated sin (1 John 2:2), death (2 Timothy 1:10), and the Devil himself (Hebrews 2:14). As the one and only Christ, He is our Rock (1 Corinthians 10:1-4), He is our Foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11), and in every sense of the word He is the Saviour of the world (1 John 4:14).
Christ Our Savior
The apostle Paul proclaimed that all he needed to know was Christ and Christ crucified:
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)
Yet Paul also said we should not be “ignorant” of Satan’s “devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Paul further stated it is “a shame” we have to talk about “the unfruitful works of darkness,” but we must “reprove” them—expose them—by bringing them into the “light”:
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. (Ephesians 5:11-13)
At the same time, Paul reminds us that there is a “simplicity” in Christ:
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)
Just as there is a “simplicity” in Christ, there is a simplicity in the deception. Satan’s deceptive scenario presents a false “God” and a false “Christ” who are allegedly “in” everyone and everything—thus providing the false foundation of a false one-world religion.
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:4-5)
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (2 Corinthians 11:4)
But what if the true foundations are destroyed by a New Worldview that presents itself as a New Spirituality for a New Age?
If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? (Psalm 11:3)
For biblical Christians, the true foundations can never be destroyed because we have “a sure foundation”:
Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. (Isaiah 28:16)
And that foundation is our Rock—Jesus Christ:
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:11)
Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. (1 Corinthians 10:1-4)
While many in this world build upon foundations that crumble, we, as believers in Christ, have built upon a foundation that will never falter:
And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. (Luke 6:46-48)
These other foundations bring ruin:
But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. (Luke 6:49)
“Oneness” is the foundational lie of the New Age/New Spirituality. New Age leader Neale Donald Walsch claims to have had literal “conversations” with “God.” He says God told him that “Oneness”—“God” in everyone and everything—is the “Foundational Truth” of a New Spirituality that can save the world. In regards to this “immanent,” “panentheistic,” and heretical worldview, Walsch writes:
[W]e see God in everyone and everything. Including our divine selves.1
Oneness is the message.2
It is the Foundational Truth of the New Spirituality.3
The following chronologically selected quotes are just some of the many ways this false foundational principle of “Oneness”—God “in” everything—has gradually worked its way into the world—and into the church—over the last sixty to seventy years.
The God “in” Everything Lie Through the Years
(1935) The Two Listeners in God Calling—Two anonymous English women claimed to receive special messages from “The Living Christ” in the 1930s. Their messages were first released in 1935 and were later turned into a best-selling book that is still popular today. Their “Christ” delivered new revelation that included the new “truth” that God is “in” everyone:
Wherever the soul is, I am. Man has rarely understood this. I am actually at the centre of every man’s being.4
I see as no man can see the God in you.5
(1948) Alice Bailey in The Reappearance of the Christ—New Age matriarch Alice Bailey and her spirit guide Djwhal Khul describe how the path to God will be based on an “immanent” God that is “within every form of life”:
. . . a fresh orientation to divinity and to the acceptance of the fact of God Transcendent and of God Immanent within every form of life. These are the foundational truths upon which the world religion of the future will rest.6
(1952) Norman Vincent Peale in The Power of Positive Thinking—In his mega best-selling book, Peale teaches the foundational belief of the New Age/New Spirituality that God is “in” everyone. On page 40, Peale tells his millions of readers:
God is in you.7
(1971) Pierre Teilhard de Chardin in Christianity and Evolution—Teilhard de Chardin, the “Father” of the New Age Movement and frequently quoted by undiscerning Christian leaders, wrote:
I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe.8
What I am proposing to do is to narrow the gap between Pantheism and Christianity by bringing out what one might call the Christian soul of pantheism or the pantheistic aspect of Christianity.9
(1975) The Channeled “Jesus” in A Course in Miracles—Oprah Winfrey stated that the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles—allegedly new revelation from Jesus Christ—could “change the world.” The Course’s “Jesus” teaches that “God” is in everyone and everything—therefore all is “one”:
The recognition of God is the recognition of yourself.10
The oneness of the Creator and the creation is your wholeness, your sanity and your limitless power.11
(1978) M. Scott Peck in The Road Less Traveled—The late mystical, pre-emergent, best-selling author and professing “Christian” wrote:
If you want to know the closest place to look for grace, it is within yourself. If you desire wisdom greater than your own, you can find it inside you. To put it plainly, our unconscious is God. God within us. We were part of God all the time.12
(1980) Marilyn Ferguson in The Aquarian Conspiracy—The late New Age author wrote that God was within everyone and everything. God was described as the universal “ground of being.” What heretofore had been perceived as heresy—the “immanent” notion of God “in” everything—was presented by Ferguson as new truth. She introduced this as “a great heretical idea”13 that could save mankind:
GOD WITHIN: THE OLDEST SPIRITUAL HERESY—In the emergent spiritual tradition God is not the personage of our Sunday-school mentality. God is experienced as flow, wholeness . . . the ground of being.14
(1980) Maitreya in Messages from Maitreya the Christ—On page 88 in this channeled New Age book, false New Age Christ Maitreya states he is the Christ and is already here on earth waiting for humanity to call him forth. He teaches that “God” is “within” every person:
My friends. God is nearer to you than you can imagine. God is yourself. God is within you and all around you.15
(1980) Benjamin Creme in The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom—New Age channeler Benjamin Creme—still speaking today on behalf of Maitreya—states on page 88 of his book that the New-World Religion will be based on the proposition that “Christ” is “immanent”—“in man and all creation”:
But eventually a new world religion will be inaugurated which will be a fusion and synthesis of the approach of the East and the approach of the West. The Christ will bring together, not simply Christianity and Buddhism, but the concept of God transcendent—outside of His creation—and also the concept of God immanent in all creation—in man and all creation.16
(1983) Shirley MacLaine in Out on a Limb—Using her celebrity status, MacLaine was one of the first people to bring occult/New Age teachings out of the closet into mainstream society. In her best-selling book Out on a Limb, she and her friend David converse about the idea that everyone is God:
“The simple truth,” he said, “of knowing yourself. And to know yourself is to know God.”
“You mean that is the Big Truth?”
“That’s it. The point, Shirley, is that it is simple.”17
(1987) The Oprah Winfrey Show—On a September 18, 1987 program titled “The New Age Movement,” Winfrey praised New Age minister Eric Butterworth’s book Discover the Power Within You. This New Age book mentions the divinity of man over one hundred times in its pages. On this particular Oprah program about the New Age Movement, Winfrey used Butterworth to present her own New Age belief in the divinity of man. She stated:
One of the most important books I think I’ve read in my life was a book by Eric Butterworth. . . . Discover the Power Within You. And what Eric Butterworth said in that book is that Jesus didn’t come to teach us how divine he was, but came to teach that there is divinity within us.18
(1991) David Spangler in Reimagination of the World—Pioneering New Age leader David Spangler introduced the idea of “God within” as a “universal presence” and as the “ground of all being.” He wrote:
There is nothing new about saying “I am God.” . . . However, in the Judeo-Christian-Moslem world, God is usually not popularly understood as a universal presence, the ground of all being.19
(1991) Leonard Sweet in Quantum Spirituality—Sweet, like other New Age sympathizers in the emergent church, tries to use quantum physics to demonstrate that God is “in” everything. He makes his quantum meaning clear when he introduces the “radical” and heretical “God within” doctrine by stating that God is embodied in the “substance of creation.”
Quantum Spirituality bonds us to all creation as well as to other members of the human family. . . . This entails a radical doctrine of embodiment of God in the very substance of creation.20
(1992) Betty Eadie in Embraced by the Light—Mormon/New Age author Betty Eadie’s best-selling book was extremely popular with countless undiscerning Christian readers. In describing a part of her alleged near-death experience, she writes:
I felt God in the plant, in me, his love pouring into us. We were all one.21
(1992) Sue Monk Kidd in The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine—Kidd, a former Southern Baptist Sunday School teacher and now a best-selling New Age mystic, falsely teaches the “immanence” of “God” in everything:
Restoring the feminine symbol of Deity means that divinity will no longer be only heavenly, other, out there, up there, beyond time and space, beyond body and death. It will also be right here, right now, in me, in the earth, in this river and this rock, in excrement and roses alike.22
(1992) New Age Journal Editors in As Above, So Below—In this New Age book written by the editors of the New Age Journal, the authors discuss “transcendence” and “immanence” in regard to “oneness” and the idea of God being “in” everyone:
Thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, the great master alchemist Hermes Trismegistus, believed to be a contemporary of the Hebrew prophet Abraham, proclaimed this fundamental truth about the universe: “As above, so below: as below, so above.” This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one. Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, the invisible and the visible worlds form a unity to which we are intimately linked.23
(1993) Eugene Peterson in The Message—Eugene Peterson not only uses the occult phrase “as above, so below,” but he puts these New Age words in the mouth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Instead of “in earth as it is in heaven,” Peterson has Jesus proclaiming this mystical, magical, New Age phrase right in the middle of the Lord’s Prayer. Also, in his Message “translation” of Ephesians 4:6, after erroneously translating that God is “present in all,” he introduces “Oneness”:
You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.24
(1993) Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen in Chicken Soup for the Soul—On page 69 of the very first Chicken Soup for the Soul book, in his personally penned story titled “The Golden Buddha,” New Age author/leader Jack Canfield writes:
. . . underneath each of us is a “golden Buddha,” a “golden Christ” or “a golden essence,” which is our real self.25
(1994) Catechism of the Catholic Church—The 1994 Catechism is the official source for Roman Catholic doctrine. The following quotes are taken straight from the Catechism:
Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. (#795)26
For the Son of God became man so that we might become God. (#460)27
The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods. (#460)28
(1996) Neale Donald Walsch in Conversations with God: Book 1—The New Age “God,” speaking through Walsch, tells everyone:
You are already a God. You simply don’t know it.29
(1997) Henri Nouwen in Here and Now—Henri Nouwen, the late Catholic mystic, is frequently quoted by undiscerning pastors and Christian leaders. In his book, Here and Now, Nouwen writes:
The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is also the God who dwells in the inner sanctuary of every human being.30
(1999) Leonard Sweet in SoulTsunami—With a front cover endorsement by Rick Warren, New Age sympathizer/church figure Leonard Sweet introduces the New Age concept of “immanence” after suggesting that Christians “learn to speak out of both sides of the mouth”:
To survive in the postmodern culture, one has to learn to speak out of both sides of the mouth . . . Biblical theological is not circular with a fixed center, but elliptical, revolving around the double foci of God’s immanence and God’s transcendence.31
(2002) Rick Warren in The Purpose-Driven Life—On page 88 of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren quotes Ephesians 4:6 from a New Century Bible translation, which erroneously states that God is “in” everything:
Because God is with you all the time, no place is any closer to God than the place where you are right now. The Bible says, “He rules everything and is everywhere and is in everything.”32
(2003) Robert Schuller in an Hour of Power Sermon—On November 9, 2003, using the same overlapping New Age term of “immanence,” Robert Schuller told his international television audience that God was an “immanent God” because he was “in every single human being”:
The immanence of God means here, in me, around me, in society, in the world, this God here, in the humanities, in the science, in the arts, sociology, in politics—the immanence of God. . . . Yes, God is alive and he is in every single human being.33
(2003) Tom Holliday and Kay Warren in their Saddleback Church Foundations Participants Guide—Invoking the same overlapping concept of “immanence,” the Foundations Participants Guide states:
The fact that God stands above and beyond his creation does not mean he stands outside his creation. He is both transcendent (above and beyond his creation) and immanent (within and throughout his creation).34
(2004) Sarah Young in Jesus Calling—The July 8th message on page 199 that Sarah Young says she received from “Jesus” states that He is “in” everything:
I am above all as well as in all.35
(2006) Rhonda Byrne in The Secret—This New Age author prominently features the occult/New Age phrase “as above, so below” at the front of her book. On page 164, she later defines what she means by the term:
You are God in a physical body.36
(2006) What the Bleep Do We Know!?—This popular New Age movie featured in theaters across the country, tried to use quantum physics to convince people that God is “in” everyone and everything. New Age channeler J.Z. Knight appears in the film and channels an ancient “spirit guide” named Ramtha. This spirit guide proclaims that quantum physics proves that we are all “God.”
We have the epitome of a great science . . . quantum physics . . . Everyone is God.37
(2006) Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love—In this best-selling New Age book, Gilbert frequently references the idea that God is “in” everyone:
God dwells within you as yourself, exactly the way you are. . . . To know God, you need only to renounce one thing—your sense of division from God.38
(2007) William Paul Young in The Shack—Like many New Age proponents, author Paul Young uses the term ground of being. In this book that was enthusiastically read by millions of Christians, Young’s “Jesus” uses the phrase to underline his heretical statement that God is “in all things”:
“God” who is the ground of all being, dwells in, around, and through all things.”39
(2011) Glenn Beck in The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life—Mormon author and radio personality Glenn Beck openly acknowledges his New Age sympathies in this book. He writes:
If God is everything and everywhere and inside everyone, then I figured He had to be inside me, too.40
I wasn’t here by accident. I was part of God’s plan and I had to respect that plan, or at least not resent it. I had to respect myself, as part of Him.41
My father’s granola-hippie-New Age spirituality (which I actually really agree with) . . .42
Scripture makes it clear that God is not an immanent/quantum/panentheistic force or “ground of all being” that interpenetrates His creation. Scripture exhorts believers to lay up “a good foundation”—the true Jesus Christ—for the challenging days ahead. It also warns us to beware of a false foundation that purports to be scientifically proven—like the quantum/New Age/New Spirituality. God is our creator, but He is not “quantum-ly” embedded in His creation. He is not “in” everyone and everything.
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen. (1Timothy 6:19-21)
Scriptural References to Show God is Not “in” Man
Thou shalt have none other gods before me. (Deuteronomy 5:7)
Put them in fear, O LORD: that the nations may know themselves to be but men. (Psalm 9:20)
. . . verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. (Psalm 39:5)
I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another. (Isaiah 42:8)
I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:5-6)
Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? (Jeremiah 16:20)
Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord God; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God. (Ezekiel 28:2)
I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city. (Hosea 11:9)
And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. (Matthew 23:12)
But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man. (John 2:24-25)
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things . . . .Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. (Romans 1:21-23, 25)
And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain. Therefore let no man glory in men. (1 Corinthians 3:20-21)
. . . that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another. (1 Corinthians 4:6)
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. (2 Corinthians 4:5)
It has been rightly said that God is God and we are not. However, tremendous pressure is being continually mounted to convince everyone there is a New Age/New Spirituality/New Worldview that can save the world from its present problems. We are being told that if we accept the new revelation that “we are all one” because “God is in everyone and everything” then world peace can happen. But we know from Scripture that a false Christ—Antichrist—“shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practice” and “by peace shall destroy many” (Daniel 8:25). The Bible warns that what will appear to be a wonderful “peace and safety” will suddenly turn into terrible “destruction” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
Universal “oneness”—God “in” everyone and everything—is obviously a broad way. The true Christ—Jesus Christ—warns that “broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction” (Matthew 7:13). He also warns that “narrow is the way that leadeth to life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). He later states there will come a time when Satan, working through Antichrist, will deceive “the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). Jesus explained that “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold” (Matthew 24:12).
Describing the coming apostasy, the apostle Paul said that people “received not the love of the truth that they might be saved” and “believed not the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). Thus, with “itching ears,” humanity will “turn away their ears from the truth” as they turn toward things like a New Age/New Spirituality that teaches we are all “one” because God is “in” everyone and everything.
God is not impressed with deceptive devices like worldly “oneness” and neither should anyone who reads and believes the Bible. Genesis 11:6 records what the Lord has to say about worldly “oneness”:
Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
Scripture records that God was so displeased with their contrived “oneness” that He confounded their language and scattered them all over the face of the Earth (Genesis 11:7-8). Contrast this with Galatians 3:26-28 where the apostle Paul says to those who are actual believers, “Ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” He does not say that Christ is “in” everyone. Rather, He says that everyone who believes in Christ is “one” in Christ. In Ephesians 4:6, Paul tells believers at the church in Ephesus and the “faithful in Christ Jesus” that God is in “you all” solely by virtue of their belief. God does not naturally reside in everyone and everything. Thus, there is a big difference between the mistaken notion of universal worldly “oneness” and believers who become “one” in Christ through their belief in the true Jesus Christ.
Acts 17:26 affirms that all of humanity is “one blood” because we come from an original set of parents—Adam and Eve. But “that which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6). That is why Jesus said—“Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). It is only after conversion to the true Jesus Christ that the Holy Spirit is sent to believers. As a result of that commitment and conversion, it can be said that God is now “in” those believers. But those believers are not God. And most certainly, God is not “in” everyone and everything. Years ago, people claiming to be God were considered delusional. The way things are going, it may not be long before those who deny they are God will be the ones who are considered to be delusional.
It has been said that when a big lie is told often enough and convincingly enough over time, it will eventually be perceived as truth. Because most Christians are not contending for the faith, the big lie that “God is in everyone and everything” is fast becoming the new spiritual norm. Consequently, it is easy to see how evil may soon rule the world—just as the Bible said it would one day. And the way things are going it may be sooner than most people would ever imagine.
So may God have mercy on us all as we race with ever increasing speed toward this inevitable prophesied conclusion. Ironically, in humanity’s effort to avoid this, they actually bring it on with “new truths” that are no truths at all—like God “in” everyone and everything. In the meantime, we rest in our relationship with the Lord, knowing that these things must come to pass at such a time as this.
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:3-5)
To order copies of Be Still and Know That You are Not God!—God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything,” click here.
1. Neale Donald Walsch, Happier than God: Turn Ordinary Life into an Extraordinary Experience (Ashland, OR: Emnin Books, 2008), p. 207.
2. Neale Donald Walsch, Tomorrow’s God: Our Greatest Spiritual Challenge (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2004), p. 167.
3. Ibid., p. 167.
4. Two Listeners, Edited by A. J. Russell, God Calling (Grand Rapids, MI: A Spire Book published by Jove Publications Inc., for Fleming H. Revell, 2005), p. 55.
5. Ibid., p. 88.
6. Alice A, Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ (New York, NY: Lucis Publishing Company, Lucis Press, Ltd., 1948), 1996, p. 150.
7. Norman Vincent Peale, The Power of Positive Thinking (New York, NY, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Sixteenth Printing, 1955), p. 40.
8. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Christianity and Evolution (New York, NY, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., 1971), p. 128.
9. Ibid., p. 56.
10. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume (Glen Ellen, California: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1975), (Text), p. 147.
11. Ibid., p. 125.
12. M. Scott Peck, The Road Less Traveled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 1978), p. 281.
13. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy: Personal and Social Transformation in the 1970s (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, Inc., 1980), p. 27.
14. Ibid., p. 382.
15. Messages from Maitreya the Christ: One Hundred Forty Messages (Los Angeles, CA: Share International Foundation, 1980), p. 88.
16. Benjamin Creme, The Reappearance of the Christ and the Masters of Wisdom (London, England; The Tara Press, 1980), p. 88.
17. Shirley MacLaine, Out on a Limb (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1983), p. 317.
18. The Oprah Winfrey Show # W265, “The New Age Movement,” Air Date: September 18, 1987.
19. David Spangler and William Irwin Thompson, Reimagination of the World: A Critique of the New Age, Science, and Popular Culture (Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Company Publishing, 1991), p. 148.
20. Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality: A Postmodern Apologetic (Dayton, OH: Whaleprints for SpiritVenture Ministries, Inc., 1991, 1994), p. 125.
21. Betty J. Eadie, Embraced by the Light (Placerville, CA: Gold Leaf Press, 1992), p. 81.
22. Sue Monk Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine (New York, NY: Harper Collins Publishers Inc.,1992), p. 160.
23. Ronald S. Miller and the Editors of New Age Journal, As Above, So Below: Paths to Spiritual Renewal in Daily Life (Los Angeles, CA: Jeremy P. Tarcher Inc., 1992), p. xi.
24. Eugene Peterson, The Message: The New Testament in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Nav Press, 1993, 2003), p. 21-22.
25. Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, Chicken Soup for the Soul: 101 Stories to Open the Heart and Rekindle the Spirit (Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, Inc., 1993), p. 69.
26. Catechism of the Catholic Church (New York, NY: Doubleday, 1995), p. 228.
27. Ibid., p. 129.
29. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God an uncommon dialogue Book 1 (New York: NY: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, Hardcover Edition, 1996), p. 202.
30. Henri Nouwen, Here and Now (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1997 edition), p. 22.
31. Leonard Sweet, SoulTsunami: Sink or Swim in the New Millennium Culture (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1999), p. 28.
32. Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth am I Here For? (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2002), p. 88.
33. Hour of Power, Robert H. Schuller, Program # 1762, “God’s Word: Rebuild, Renew, Restore,” November 9, 2003, (http://www.hourofpower.org/bookletdetail.cfm?ArticleID=2107), p. 5.
34. Tom Holliday and Kay Warren, Foundations Participant’s Guide: 11 Core Truths To Build Your Life On (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2003), p. 46.
35. Sarah Young, Jesus Calling (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2004), p. 199.
36. Rhonda Byrne, The Secret (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2006), p. 164.
37. What the Bleep Do We know!? (20th Century Fox, 2004, http://www.whatthebleep.com) transcribed by author.
38. Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia (New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2006), p. 192.
39. William P. Young, The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity (Newbury Park, CA: Windblown Media, 2007), p. 112.
40. Glenn Beck and Dr. Keith Ablow, The Seven Wonders That Will Change Your Life (New York, NY: Threshold Editions-Mercury Radio Arts, A division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2011) p. 58.
42. Ibid., p. 24.
To order copies of Be Still and Know That You are Not God!—God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything,” click here.
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.
Letter to the Editor: Grateful for Warnings about Rick Warren and Concerned about Barnabas Family Ministries in Canada
Dear Friends at Lighthouse Trails,
Thank you so much for your ministry! I could tell you stories that would seem utterly unbelievable to most, but they have happened to me!
My girlfriend and I meet every week for coffee and always choose a book for study when we meet. I have a [relative] who is married to a former pastor of Saddleback Church (Now he pastor’s in [another state] but is still associated with Saddleback). Please pray for her and her husband that God deliver them from falsehood!
After hearing some things about the Daniel Plan and having had reservations previously about Rick Warren, my friend and I decided to read Roger Oakland’s book Faith Undone. Praise God! He specifically led us to that book!!
We read it because we wanted to to better understand what was going on at Saddleback, because I dearly love my [relative]! The Lord prepared my heart that I might become aware of “contemplative teachings” coming into my son’s church via an up and coming young pastor, but that is a long story that I would like to share sometime with you at length.
After having become aware of what my son was being led in to, to make a very long story short, my friend and other’s began to pray that the Lord bring my son and family out of that church. The Lord answered! Several months later, “all of a sudden” (by the grace of God and His answering our prayers), they left and are now attending the church we attend!
Roger Oakland, and the rest of you, “God bless you abundantly for making us acutely aware” of these demonic teachings!! My heart grieves every day by this fall into apostasy the church is taking.
Anyway, I first wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart before giving you some vital information of which folks need to be aware which is the following:
Many years ago, my husband and I received a flyer for “Barnabas Family Ministries,” a Christian family camp in British Columbia. The flyer was enclosed in a “Focus on the Family” magazine. We decided to go. It is an absolutely gorgeous spot and the fellowship there was wonderful, but I do remember being somewhat disappointed that there seemed to be more focus on having teachers that often promoted so-called Christian physchology than the Word of God.
Anyway, we have continued over the years to receive their flyers. This year I was sorely disappointed and grieved when I read the title for an upcoming spring retreat that was held between February 27-March 1 of this year, titled “Contemplative Prayer”! I have not but will soon be writing them a serious, but loving, letter asking to be taken off their mailing list. If there is anyway you can get this information out, it would be greatly appreciated. May our wonderfully faithful God have mercy upon, and cleanse, His Bride!!! I still have the pamphlet adverstising the camps if you are interested.
Thank you again for all that you do!! The Lord has used you powerfully in my life, and He has faithfully answered many prayers that have been prayed because He warned me through your ministry and others!! May God bless and keep you in His loving care, and may He grant to each one of us a boldness to speak the Truth in love and gentleness always!
Your Sister in Christ
LTRP Note: We would like to note that Barnabas Family Ministries is also hosting a retreat this summer (July 19th-24th 2015), which will be led by Mark and Cheryl Buchanan. According to the Barnabas website, Cheryl is a Spiritual Director (a contemplative mentor) with a Masters in the Art of Spiritual Formation) from Carey Theological College. It is quite apparent that Barnabas Family Ministries has decided to introduce contemplative spirituality into the lives of their retreat attenders. More and more Christian retreat and conference centers are incorporating contemplative prayer (i.e., spiritual formation) into their programs. Here’s one article we wrote about this in 2013: “Sending Your Child or Teen to Camp This Summer? – Be Careful – Many are Promoting Contemplative Spirituality.”
Lighthouse Trails has now added Death of a Guru written by former Hindu Rabi Maharaj with Dave Hunt to our collection of important and needed books for the body of Christ. The book has been in print for many years and is published by Harvest House Publishers (we are glad that HH is still publishing some books that warn about spiritual deception). While Lighthouse Trails editors read Death of a Guru many years ago, it was brought to our attention again when Lighthouse Trails author Warren B. Smith made reference to the book in his own book “Another Jesus” Calling: How False Christs Are Entering the Church Through Contemplative Prayer.
The following description of Death of a Guru shows why this is a necessary book for today’s church in view of the contemplative prayer (i.e., spiritual formation) movement that has swept in:
Rabi R. Maharaj was descended from a long line of Brahmin priests and gurus and trained as a Yogi. He meditated for many hours each day, but disillusionment gradually set in. In Death of a Guru, he vividly and honestly describes Hindu life and customs, tracing his difficult search for meaning and his struggle to choose between Hinduism and Christ. At a time when Eastern mysticism, religion and philosophy fascinate many in the West, Maharaj offers fresh and important insights from the perspective of his own experience. (source)
Here is the section from “Another Jesus” Calling where Warren B. Smith warns about mystical meditation and references Death of a Guru:
Meditation and Contemplation
The New Age/New Spirituality has made great inroads into the church—particularly in the area of meditation and contemplative prayer. Despite grave warnings from many of us who came out of the New Age movement, the church remains extremely vulnerable to deceptive supernatural experiences that appear to come from God.
We knew from our own New Age involvement that powerful, seemingly “meant to be” spiritual experiences had often been used to draw us into the New Age and its various spiritual practices, which included meditation and contemplation. And we knew that the same seductive experiences, which had led us into the New Age, continued within our meditations and contemplations. Because our spiritual experiences felt so good, we just assumed that what we were experiencing was coming from God. Our spiritual practices soon became the primary connecting force that gave us “the feeling” we were on the right track. These daily meditations and contemplations served to reinforce our emerging New Age beliefs, and had the effect of leading us deeper and deeper into the teachings of the New Age/New Spirituality.
For most of us in the New Age, meditation was an integral part of daily life. Because it was so relaxing and felt so good, we, like Sarah Young and her readers, had no idea that our meditations and contemplations were opening us up to great deception. Looking back on it now, meditation was the major pipeline through which deceptive spirits impressed upon us their New Age thoughts and teachings. The spiritual “high” that often accompanied our meditations and contemplations even seemed to corroborate the teaching of the New Age that we were all “one” because God was “in” everyone and everything. In fact, in my very first meditation, I experienced a “mysterious sense of oneness” that I perceived to be my “divine connection” to that oneness. One of the daily lessons I contemplated from A Course in Miracles was: “Let me remember I am one with God.”1
Ironically, even biblical meditation can be manipulated into a form of New Age contemplative prayer. One of the clever ploys of our spiritual Adversary has been to repackage eastern/mystical New Age meditation as “Christian” meditation and contemplation. In his powerful book Death of a Guru: A Hindu Comes to Christ, former Hindu Rabrindranath R. Maharaj describes how even seemingly benign and relaxing forms of meditation and contemplation can be used by the spirit world to provide an experience of cosmic oneness:
“Though popularized in the West under many names, the aim of all Eastern meditation is to ‘realize’ one’s essential union with the Universe. It is the doorway to the ‘nothingness’ called nirvana. Generally sold as a ‘relaxation’ technique, meditation really aims at and ultimately leads to the surrender of oneself to mystical cosmic forces.”2
1. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume (Workbook), op. cit., p. 222.
2. Rabindranath R. Maharaj with Dave Hunt, Death of a Guru: A Hindu Comes to Christ (New York, NY: A. J. Holman Company: Division of J. B. Lippincott Company, 1977), pp. 219-220.
The Walk to Emmaus is a program put on by Upper Room Ministries. Upper Room promotes Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative spirituality), and if you want to understand the dynamics of Walk to Emmaus, then understanding the spirituality of Upper Room will help you:
“The Walk to Emmaus is an adaptation of the Roman Catholic Cursillo Movement, which originated in Spain in 1949.” from the Walk to Emmaus website
Walk to Emmaus is widely spread. It is estimated that over half a million persons have experienced a Walk to Emmaus weekend and today the Movement counts more than 300 communities distributed all over the United States as well as all over the world.1
Mantra Meditation is promoted at Upper Room Ministries also:
“Mantra — The word comes from Sanskrit. Its two-syllabus mean: man or mind and tra or deliverance. A mantra is sound vibration that is intended to deliver the mind from distractions and a focus on the material world. A mantra is repeated like a chant and has a spiritual effect associated with the physical vibration. A mantra can be as simple as one syllable ‘OM’ or as more complicated such as, ‘OM SRI RAM JAI RAM JAI JAI RAM’.” From the Upper Room website (now removed)
“The Walk to Emmaus is an adaptation of the Roman Catholic Cursillo Movement, which originated in Spain in 1949.”2
List of places that do Walk to Emmaus
LTRP Note: This past week, a caller to LT asked if we knew anything about the IF: Gathering with emergent Ann Voskamp. At the time, we had not heard of the conference. “Co-incidentally,” this weekend, C.H. Fisher of Truthkeepers, one of the writers Lighthouse Trails turns to, sent us the following article warning about the IF:Gathering. Fisher’s article is an important and timely warning. Many young women will be attending the IF conferences, and those who do will be subtly introduced to the emerging church. As one example, on the home page of IF, there is a favorable reference to emergent figures Tony Campolo and Bono of U2. (*Also see our comment below the article on doubt vs. faith, which is the theme of IF.) And now, C.H. Fisher’s article, exposing IF.
“The salvation message of the emerging church in not found in doctrine but in dialog, not in truth but in discussion. In this sense, always searching but never finding is a trademark of the emerging church, because in the endless dialogue (conversation), the truth is never found.”—Roger Oakland, Faith Undone
“IF:Gathering . . . is it a movement of God?”
By C. H. Fisher
There is a relatively new fad in woman’s conferences call IF:Gathering. IF:Gathering was founded by Jennie Allen, one of the [Emergent] leaders and a contributor to the emergent Nines Conference. The new Emergent leaders view themselves as spiritual directors ordained by God to create a new Christianity. Thus, when I read that Allen and her associates (including contemplative heretic, Ann Voskamp,) are involved in a new conference, I wanted to know what they are up to. I read an article in Christianity Today about IF:Gathering that hints about their purpose. Christianity Today declared that the IF:Gathering for the first time has what CT calls a “vague premise.” That premise is, “If God is real, then what?” ( Christianity Today, “If a Brand-New Christian Women’s Conference Goes Viral, Then What?” February, 2014) More about that question later.
CT also describes some of the activities of the event. “In between sessions, the mostly-young crowd discussed with each other their own sense of calling as well as hindrances such as fear and comparison.” (CT, Ibid) That’s the kind of stuff you see in a convention of young professionals attempting to take the business world by storm. It is amazingly dissimilar to individuals with a biblical calling.
I confess that I didn’t watch any of the conferences, and do not intend to. There isn’t enough time to watch or read everything that is inundating Christianity. It is an overwhelming deluge. However, CT told me everything I need to know to advise every true Christian to avoid them.
“IF focused distinctly on spiritual formation, with both inspirational and practical takeaways. Based on the directive in Hebrews 12 to ‘throw off everything that hinders’ and ‘run with perseverance the race marked out for us,’ dozens of speakers encouraged women to chase their calling.” (CT, Ibid)
Spiritual Formation is the vehicle used by the Emergent Movement to subtly inseminate Christianity with New Age heresy, especially Contemplative spirituality. Spiritual Formation is active with beguiling, religious demon spirits. It is extremely dangerous. I have witnessed a number of Christian leaders apostatize after submitting their souls to Spiritual Formation. I am certain that God did not send a hoard of authors and bloggers armed with demonic heresy to change Christianity. They are sent to persuade Christian women to throw off everything that hinders the works of darkness, especially truth, and to enter a new path that heads straight into apostasy. Click here to continue reading.
*LTRP Note: Catholic mystic Thomas Merton believed that the doctrine of redemption and atonement through Christ was “of little value.” This also reflects the view of the emerging church that tolerance is more virtuous than faith, and that faith can actually be unvirtuous. As illustrated in the movie, Doubt, doubt and uncertainty unites. The priest in Doubt does a homily on doubt, and the fundamentalist in the movie (Meryl Streep) sees that as dangerous but in the end, she herself doubts. The point of the film is that uncertainty is good. Father Flynn from the movie is a Thomas Merton type priest in the sense that firm conviction is not necessarily a good thing. This is consistent with the emerging church. Emergent leader Tony Jones says in his book, The New Christians, that uncertainty (including uncertainty of Scripture) is better than certainty.