Archive for the ‘Spiritual Formation’ Category

Letter to the Editor: Left Standing Alone After Challenging Pastor Over C&MA Emergent Teachings

To Lighthouse Trails:

In March 2015, we were at a small Calvary Chapel in ________________. Our pastor needed to relocate so we were without a regular pastor for many months.

Since we were unable to find a satisfactory Calvary Chapel pastor, we were extremely anxious as to what our next step should be. Someone knew of a C&MA [Christian & Missionary Alliance] District Superintendent who mentioned he could come talk to us as a congregation. When he came, he was extremely nice and personable and exuded confidence and kindness.

We were all extremely excited, and when we looked at their statement of beliefs we were relieved to find they were very close to Calvary Chapels. They soon provided us with a temporary pastor who would take over our congregation until we could be matched with the perfect pastor.

I had been attending this church for over four years and teaching a women’s Bible study for about three years. At different times during the Bible study, I taught on the emergent church and showed videos such as Wide is the Gate 1, 2, and 3 on the dangers of these emergent teachings. A lot of the women alienated themselves from me because I criticized Beth Moore and her teachings and Priscilla Shirer.

At some point, I began to see, through Lighthouse Trails, a few things on the Alliance and its ties with the emergent church and spiritual formation. As I really began to dig, I was horrified. I called four C&MA seminaries to ask them if they offered classes on Spiritual Formation. I was told very enthusiastically, yes they offered many classes in Spiritual Formation. When I called Simpson University, I was even told that if I wanted to dig deeper into that sort of thing, they recommended Bill Johnson’s [Bethel Church] School of the Supernatural.

I approached our three elders with all this information: two of the elders were very dismissive, saying I was just reading “ranting blogs” and that they knew C&MA to be a very reputable denomination. One elder and about four of the women were very interested and seem to be quite alarmed. They did their own research and agreed it was a scary situation.

Then this past Saturday, we all met in one of the women’s houses including the one elder and had a two-hour meeting discussing the situation and that something needed to change, that maybe we should develop a home church or at least take back our church.

Sunday came around and our new pastor called a meeting of our transition board, which mostly consists of myself and the other eight or nine people I had told. He had been informed that I had some problems with the Alliance and the emergent church, so he focused on me and was very kind and very nice and asked me what the problem was. When I told him what I had read, he said that the emergent church was very evil and that Alliance was aware of it and they were fighting it. When I asked him why they were teaching Spiritual Formation in their colleges and seminaries, he said they were educating students about the dangers of it. He then mentioned someone that he was friends with named Timothy Keller. I asked him did he think Timothy Keller was a good teacher and a good pastor, and he said absolutely. I then asked him how he could say that when Pastor Keller was bringing in the emergent church full blown into his Presbyterian Church?

Our new pastor then told me that the best way to fight these kind of things was to be relevant to the culture and to bring all these things in to the church and let the false teachers teach alongside the true teachers of the Gospel and that the Gospel would prevail. He said in a place like New York where Timothy Keller pastors, you have to be relevant to the population; and teaching things like yoga, contemplative prayer, and lectio divina was necessary to bring people in, and then you could present the Gospel, and they would be saved. When I told him that was not biblical that we were told to flee from false teachers and have nothing to do with them, he told me that was my interpretation of the Bible.

The new pastor then told me I was needed in the congregation because I had such an acute sense of discernment that he needed me in the church, Yeah Right! I told him I was sorry that with the name Alliance over the front door, I couldn’t, in good conscience, attend the church. His whole demeanor changed like a mask came over his face, and he said “OK, then I will be addressing your women’s Bible study Wednesday.” When I asked him why, he said, “I don’t want these women just left and abandoned. I told him I would be there Wednesday to say goodbye to finish the class. He then looked at me since I had stood up and looked around at the other people who were there and said, “we have things to discuss—you can go now.” I said OK and I left.

Even though all those people in that living room meeting 28 hours earlier had been against him, by the time he was done talking, they were all either neutral or on his side. Not one person said a word in defense of what I was saying.

Catholic priest and mysticism teacher Richard Rohr, Buddhist leader Roshi Joan Halifax (pictured with the Dalai Lama), and Jewish Kabbalists Eve Ilsen, and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

Catholic priest and mysticism teacher Richard Rohr, Buddhist leader Roshi Joan Halifax (pictured with the Dalai Lama), and Jewish Kabbalists Eve Ilsen, and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi

All last night, I was disturbed. I was sad, and I felt lonely. Had I done the wrong thing? Was I sure this was what God wanted? I know that sounds silly looking at it from the outside, but it’s just the way it played out in my head. When I tried to call a couple of those people, they didn’t even want to talk to me. And then, I just happened to get in the mail a booklet from Lighthouse Trails that I had ordered about a week earlier called A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer. I knew a lot of the information from previous researching, except where it mentioned Richard Rohr. It rang a bell, so I Googled his name with C&MA. I came up with so much information, and after reading that booklet, it was like the blinds fell off my eyes again. With a rush of relief, I suddenly knew I had done the right thing.

Thank you Lighthouse Trails for being there for the people like us that feel like a speck of sand on a huge beach trying to get our message out to the rest of the sand.

God bless you and again thank you, thank you, thank you.

Rachel G.

Information on Richard Rohr:

YouTube video: Richard Rohr on the Cosmic Christ

List of Contemplative Colleges and Seminaries

Excerpt on Richard Rohr from Ray Yungen’s book on Richard Foster:

Richard Rohr
Without a doubt, Catholic priest Richard Rohr is one of the most prominent living proponents of contemplative prayer today. His organization, The Center for Contemplation and Action, is a bastion for contemplative spirituality. And like our other contemplative prayer “school” masters, he has been embraced by numerous popular evangelical authors. Richard Foster, for example, had Rohr on an advisory board for a 2010 book Foster edited titled 25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Essential Devotional Classics.22

Rohr has essentially become the new Thomas Merton to an entirely new generation of evangelical Christians. In an interview, Rohr said:

[O]ne of my publishers . . . told me that right now my single biggest demographic is young evangelicals—young evangelicals. Some of my books are rather heavy. I’m just amazed.23

Rohr’s statement is correct about young evangelicals. A case in point is an organization called IF: Gathering. The leaders of IF are dynamic energetic women who hold large conferences geared primarily toward young evangelical women. While these women may be sincere in what they are trying to do, they promote figures such as emergent leaders Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, as well as Richard Rohr. Lighthouse Trails has published a booklet on IF that I encourage you to read to understand the full scope of this growing women’s movement.24

To further understand the significance of this, Rohr is a prominent champion for the idea of a global religion that would unify the world. He says that “religion needs a new language.”25 And that language to bring about this one-world religion is mysticism (i.e., contemplative prayer)! Rohr stated:

Right now there is an emergence . . . it’s coming from so many different traditions and sources and parts of the world. Maybe it’s an example of the globalization of spirituality.26

This view ties in perfectly with the emerging church’s perspective that is so popular among younger evangelicals today. It’s no wonder that Richard Rohr and emerging church leaders (such as Brian McLaren) are so supportive of each other and endorse each other’s books.

In echoing Merton and Nouwen, Rohr also advocates the concept of dharmakaya. This is the recurring theme of the “school” of contemplative prayer. Rohr states:

God’s hope for humanity is that one day we will all recognize that the divine dwelling place is all of creation. Christ comes again whenever we see that matter and spirit co-exist. This truly deserves to be called good news.27

To dispel any confusion about what Rohr is saying, he makes it clear in the same paragraph what he means by God dwelling in all creation. He uses a term that one finds throughout contemplative literature, which signifies that Christ is more of an energy than a personal being. Rohr explains the term “cosmic Christ,” telling readers that everything and everyone belongs to God’s kingdom.28 That’s even the name of one of his books, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer.

In his 2011 book, Falling Upward, Rohr implies that we (humanity) are all an “immaculate conception.”29 If these things are true, then there was no need for Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for the sins of mankind. We would not need a Savior because we would already be divine ourselves. In truth, contemplative spirituality is the antithesis of the Gospel. That is why there are countless mystics who claim to know God (or Jesus) but will have nothing to do with the Cross. (for footnotes and source, click here)







NEW BOOKLET TRACT: Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them

Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer –  Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them by John Lanagan and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails 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 Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them click here.

 “Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them”

BKT-JL-WR-4By John Lanagan and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails

I knew the Lord was calling me to experience Him in prayer in a brand new way.1—Priscilla Shirer

[I]f we are not still before Him [God], we will never truly know, to the depths of the marrow in our bones, that He is God. There has got to be a stillness.2—Beth Moore

Contemplative prayer, which Priscilla Shirer refers to as her “brand new way” and Beth Moore says is essential in really knowing God, is in reality an ancient prayer practice that is essentially the same as New Age or Eastern meditation though disguised with Christian terminology. Those who participate and enter the contemplative silence, as it is called, open themselves to great deception.

Now, because of the success of the War Room movie, many fans are going to flock to the websites and materials of Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer. Those who buy Shirer’s book, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God Speaks, will discover Shirer’s affinity with contemplative prayer. And those who buy the DVD Be Still or a book titled When Godly People Do Ungodly Things will learn of Moore’s contemplative prayer propensities.

Contemplative prayer is a primary factor to consider as we watch the visible church depart from sound doctrine more and more. It is promoted by such ministries as Mike Bickle’s International House of Prayer (IHOP),  Bethel Church of Redding, California (Bill and Beni Johnson), Saddleback’s Rick Warren, author Kenneth Boa, and pastor and author Tim Keller to name just a few.

How was Priscilla Shirer introduced to this practice? She writes:

[A] friend sent me a book on silent prayer. The book explains how purposeful periods of silent prayer can help believers hear God’s voice. I was very drawn to the spiritual journey of the author, and I read the book twice. As my heart burned within me, I knew that the Lord was calling me to experience Him in prayer in a brand new way.3

Thus fascinated with this newly discovered concept, Shirer then read a Bible verse, which she perceived as a Word from the Lord: “As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut” (Ecclesiastes 5:1, NLT). She explains:

It confirmed the message of the book I had been so drawn to and what I sensed the Holy Spirit was leading me to do.4

She was further amazed to learn that some of the women from her church were going to participate in a “silent prayer retreat. Women would gather to spend 36 hours of silence in anticipation of hearing the voice of God.”5

She had read about this in the book on silent prayer, but now here were people actually talking about the same thing. Shirer seems to have taken all this as part of God’s plan.

Beth Moore and Her Contemplative Hero
In her book When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, in a section about “Unceasing Prayer,” Beth Moore states:

I have picked up on the terminology of Brother Lawrence [a Carmelite mystic], who called praying unceasingly practicing God’s presence. In fact, practicing God’s presence has been my number one goal for the last year.6

Moore says:

A head full of biblical knowledge without a heart passionately in love with Christ is terribly dangerous—a stronghold waiting to happen. The head is full, but the heart and soul are still unsatisfied.7

This language is very indicative of contemplatives and echoes Richard Foster who says we have become barren and dry within or Rick Warren who believes the church needs Spiritual Formation (i.e., contemplative prayer) to come to “full maturity.”8 However, this could lead one to think that the Word of God is little more than a philosophy or belief system and needs the help of contemplative prayer to be effective at all. The insinuation is that the Holy Spirit is dormant and ineffective without this vital stimuli. Contemplatives make a distinction between studying and pondering on the Word of God versus loving Him, suggesting that we cannot love Him or know Him simply by studying His Word or even through normal prayer—we must practice contemplative to accomplish this.

In Moore’s book, she makes frequent favorable references to contemplative pioneer Brennan Manning, stating that his contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel.”9 Yet Manning was a devout admirer of Beatrice Bruteau, founder of The School for Contemplation. Bruteau believes God is within every human being and wrote the book, What We Can Learn from the East. In an interview, she said:

We have realized ourselves as the Self that says only I AM, with no predicate following, not “I am a this” or “I have that quality.” Only unlimited, absolute “I AM.”10

In his book, Abba’s Child, Manning calls Bruteau a “trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness.”11 Manning defines “contemplative consciousness” in the following statements:

Choose a single, sacred word or phrase that captures something of the flavor of your intimate relationship with God. A word such as Jesus, Abba, Peace, God or a phrase such as “Abba, I belong to you.” . . . Without moving your lips, repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, and often.12

When distractions come … simply return to listening to your sacred word…. [G]ently return [your mind] to your sacred word.13

[E]nter into the great silence of God. Alone in that silence, the noise within will subside and the Voice of Love will be heard.14

That “Voice of Love” is the voice heard when one enters the contemplative silence. Furthering Beth Moore’s great admiration for Manning, she quotes him from his book Ragamuffin Gospel calling the book “one of the most remarkable books”15 she has ever read. But it is this very book that reveals Manning’s true spiritual affinity. In the back of Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning makes reference to Catholic priest and mystic Basil Pennington saying that Pennington’s methods of prayer will provide us with “a way of praying that leads to a deep living relationship with God.”16 Pennington’s methods of prayer draw from Eastern religions. In his book, Finding Grace at the Center, Pennington says:

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.17

In Ragamuffin Gospel, Manning also cites Carl Jung as well as interspiritualists and contemplative mystics, Anthony De Mello, Marcus Borg (who denies the Virgin birth and Jesus being Son of God), Morton Kelsey, Gerald May, Henri Nouwen, Alan Jones (who denies the atonement), Eugene Peterson, and goddess worshipper Sue Monk Kidd. Most of these figures are panentheistic, and no discerning Bible teacher would ever point followers to them, either directly or indirectly! And yet, how many of Beth Moore followers have been introduced to the writings of these authors through her glowing recommendation of Brennan Manning and the Ragamuffin Gospel?

For Moore to call Manning’s book “remarkable” and to say his contribution to this generation of believers is “a gift without parallel” leads one to conclude that Beth Moore has been highly influenced by Manning’s spirituality.

The Be Still Film
In 2006, Fox Home Entertainment released a film titled Be Still. One person to whom they reached out to be in the film was Priscilla Shirer. According to Priscilla,

They were creating a program on contemplative prayer called Be Still. They asked me to be a part of this project that was designed to help Americans see the importance of spending time before God in stillness. I knew immediately that God wanted me to be a part of the project.18

And so she was, along with Beth Moore who played a vital role in the Be Still film as well. The producers and directors of the film explained the reason they made the film:

My husband and I wanted to find a way to introduce others in the modern church to this beautiful early church practice.19 (emphasis added)

This “early church practice” is referring to the Desert Fathers—ancient monks who had learned mystical prayer practices from those in other religions. In Be Still, Shirer states that nothing, not even a “great book,” could take the place of experiencing what she calls “the manifest presence of God.”20 If there is one main message in the Be Still DVD, it is: you cannot really know God if you do not practice the art of going into the contemplative silence.

Priscilla Shirer talks about her participation in the Be Still DVD on her website, where she describes contemplative prayer as seeing “God far more clearly than we can in the normal frantic rhythm of life.”21 Contemplatives teach that in the normal “rhythm,” we cannot have a real relationship with God, and in order to hear Him, we must “change frequencies.” Former Saddleback Church pastor and contemplative advocate Lance Witt explains:

The goal of solitude is not so much to unplug from my crazy world, as it is to change frequencies so that I can hear the Father. Richard Foster has said, “Solitude doesn’t give us the power to win the rat race, but to ignore it altogether.”22

To “change frequencies,” contemplative prayer is needed so that thoughts are blocked out. Brennan Manning states:

[T]he first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer.23

Then, once thoughts have been halted through practicing contemplative prayer, an altered state is reached where our minds go into a kind of neutral state, and then, they say, we can finally hear the voice of God.24

The silence the Be Still DVD refers to is a special state of mind, different than normal prayer, and the DVD introduces an array of meditators from a number of religious persuasions to tell viewers about this state of silence. Participants in the DVD are promoters of everything from guided imagery to breath prayers to interspirituality. This infomercial for contemplative prayer is a deceptive collection of dangerous commentaries, and there should be a warning label on the cover—NSFA—Not Safe For Anyone.25

Shortly after the DVD was released, Lighthouse Trails editors spoke with Beth Moore’s personal assistant who said Moore did not have a problem with Richard Foster or Dallas Willard’s teachings. To reiterate this, Moore’s ministry, Living Proof Ministries, issued a  statement a few weeks after the release of the DVD that stated, “[W]e believe that once you view the Be Still video you will agree that there is no problem with its expression of Truth.”26 Living Proof offered to send a free copy of the DVD to anyone who received their e-mail statement and wished to view the DVD, saying that, “[I]t would be our privilege to do this for you to assure you that there is no problem with Beth’s participation in the Be Still video.”27 This statement was issued because several women contacted Moore’s ministry after reading the Lighthouse Trails report on the Be Still DVD.

In the Be Still DVD, Moore states: “[I]f we are not still before Him [God], we will never truly know to the depths of the marrow of our bones that He is God. There’s got to be a stillness.”28 When Moore says it is not possible to “truly know” He is God without “a stillness,” she is not talking about a quiet place to pray and spend time in God’s Word, but rather she is talking about a stillness of the mind—this is what contemplatives strive for—unless you practice this stillness of the mind, your relationship with the Lord is inadequate. According to Beth Moore, you don’t even know Him in the way you should.

Beth Moore and the Catholic Church
If you study the beliefs and history of contemplative prayer mystics, you will find that over time, they absorb interspiritual and panentheistic outlooks. This happened to Henri Nouwen and Brennan Manning, for example. Proponents also begin to share an affinity with Catholicism, viewing it as a legitimate form of Christianity. That makes sense given that the mystical prayer practice came out of the Roman Catholic monasteries (via Thomas Merton, Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating, etc). A case in point is when in 2014 Beth Moore shared with a large audience a “vision” she claimed was from God. In order to illustrate her vision to her audience, she had a number of women come up on stage, and she divided them into various “denominational” groups, one of which was a group of Catholic women. She said she saw a community of these different groups that was “the church as Jesus sees it.”29

Someone who has become a significant part of Beth Moore’s ministry is TV Christian host, James Robison. Moore is one of the regular speakers on his show and resonates with his work. In a May 2014 article, Robison wrote:

I believe in the importance of unity among those who know Christ, who profess to be “Christians.” . . . I believe there is an important spiritual awakening beginning in the hearts of those truly committed to Christ in the Protestant and Catholic communities. Is it possible that Pope Francis may prove to be an answer not only to the prayers of Catholics, but also those known as Protestants?30

The fact that Moore sees the Catholic Church as a legitimate denomination within the Body of Christ is evidence that she shares Robison’s views. Apparently, they both see Catholicism as a valid practice.

Priscilla Shirer—A Strange Practice with Contemplative Origins
In her book, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God Speaks, Priscilla Shirer writes:

As I meditate upon a verse, I will often insert my name or a personal pronoun into it to make it more personal. If I’m reading and meditating on a Bible story, I will become the main character so that it’s not merely someone else’s experience with God, but my own. I often ask myself what God would have me do as a result of what I contemplated.31 (emphasis added)

So, it would not be Moses, but Priscilla and the Burning Bush? (Exodus 3:2-4)

Not Elisabeth, but Priscilla, Mother of John the Baptist? (Luke 1:13)

Not Eve, but Priscilla, wife of Adam? (Genesis 2)

The Bible is very clear about the importance of preserving the Word of God— not altering it, not adding to it, and not taking away from it.
Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. (Proverbs 30:5-6)

One has to ask, where did Priscilla Shirer get this idea of inserting herself into God’s Word as Bible characters? It is very likely Shirer got this idea from contemplative teacher Jan Johnson. According to Priscilla Shirer:

Years ago, I got a chance to meet Jan Johnson. . . . I was encouraged and redirected in so many ways. As a young woman trying to navigate the ins and outs of my relationship with the Lord, Ms. Jan spoke wisdom into my life that was extremely pivotal in my life—personally and in ministry.32 (emphasis added)

Priscilla Shirer quotes Jan Johnson, an advocate of guided meditations, in her book Discerning the Voice of God.33 (Incidentally, Shirer also quotes Brother Lawrence, Dallas Willard, and other contemplatives in the book.)

On Jan Johnson’s website, it asks:

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to be present in the Christmas story? How might you have felt if you were Zechariah or Elizabeth, Mary or Joseph? What if you had been an angel, a shepherd, or one of the wise men? In this online retreat featuring Jan Johnson’s Advent guide, you’ll be invited to become part of the events surrounding the birth of the Christ child. You’ll be invited to ‘taste and see’—to live inside the story for a while.34 (emphasis added)

People like Wycliffe and Tyndale died for the Word of God so that we could . . . pretend to replace saints and angels in Bible stories as if we were putting on clothes for a costume party? No, they did not. This practice doesn’t honor God or His Word.

Jan Johnson has an Ignatian background.35 Ignatius of Loyola was founder of the Jesuits and part of the Catholic church’s counter-reformation. To this day, the Jesuits make great efforts to win back the lost brethren to the Mother Church and are practitioners of contemplative prayer.36 According to one pro-Ignatian website:

Ignatian spirituality sees the same with the stories in the Bible. Our imagination can place ourselves in the boat with Jesus and his friends on the stormy sea. Or at the table at the Last Supper, listening in on the conversation, even participating. Ignatius says if we let our imagination free, not forcing it or “scripting” it, God can use it to show us something. I recall, in my own prayer, the vivid scene with Mary and Martha. I was one of their friends waiting for Jesus to arrive to raise from the dead our brother Lazarus. We spoke about Lazarus’ life and how much we missed him. But then our friend Jesus came along and brought him back to life. You should have seen the tears and embraces as the four of us rejoiced.37

When we read something like this, we cannot help but think of the admonition from Scripture: “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

One writer describes Jan Johnson’s approach to meditating with Advent and Christmas stories: “Johnson invites readers to enter into the stories through a sort of neo-Ignatian approach she calls ‘participative meditation.’”38

There seems little doubt that Priscilla Shirer was influenced in more ways than one by Jan Johnson.

Not Safe For Anyone
Contemplative teachers will not advise believers to focus on a repetitive Eastern style mantra like “Ommm” (for example) but rather on a word or phrase like “Jesus” or “Abba Father” or a Scripture verse. In this way, the contemplative prayer appears “Christian” but nevertheless serves as entrance to the silence. Often, a practice called Lectio Divina is implemented. This is where words or phrases from Scripture or other books are repeated slowly to help get the focus off our thoughts and enter the contemplative silence.

The silence of contemplative prayer is rich ground for false visions, the voice of lying “christs,” and supernatural esoteric experiences. Author and research analyst Ray Yungen says that in contemplative prayer one can come into contact with familiar spirits because of the occult nature of contemplative, and in actuality, the silence found in contemplative prayer is a dangerous substitute for the Holy Spirit.

We realize that millions of women adore Beth Moore and Priscilla Shirer, and the notion that either woman would be tied in with an occultic-based New Age type mystical prayer movement would seem outlandish. But even one of the most widely read Christian magazines identifies Moore as a contemplative advocate in a 2010 Christianity Today cover story titled “First Came the Bible.”39

Some years ago, contemplative prayer defenders came up with a so-called answer to Christians who saw the connection between contemplative prayer and Eastern and New Age meditation. They said that New Age and Eastern practitioners strive to empty the mind whereas Christian contemplatives seek to fill the mind with God. But just because the intent may be different, the methods are the same, and the outcome is the same. One can be very well intentioned yet be very fully deceived.

We would like to say here that we have appreciated in the past the Kendrick brothers (producers of War Room) for their Christian, family-friendly films, Facing The Giants, Fireproof, and Courageous and found these to be inspiring contributions for the family. But we cannot say this about War Room because the movie is going to bring many women into the sphere of influence of Priscilla Shirer and Beth Moore. At best, the use of these two women will send out a confusing message where a movie about prayer uses two major proponents of contemplative prayer to inspire its audience. We wish the Kendricks would have done their homework before making the decision to use two women who promote a dangerous mystical prayer practice in their movie about prayer.

It’s not likely that Priscilla Shirer and Beth Moore see contemplative prayer as spiritually dangerous—nor will thousands, even potentially millions, of men and women who see War Room and subsequently buy Shirer or Moore’s books, or their Be Still DVD.

A Spiritual Awakening?
The Bible talks about a great falling away and multitudes being deceived prior to the Lord’s return. But Christian leaders today aren’t warning about that; rather, they are telling everyone that we are on the brink of a great spiritual awakening.

“Spiritual awakening” has become a “mantra” within evangelical Christianity. Terms like One, Awaken, Awake, Great Awakening, Spiritual Awakening, are being broadcasted throughout the church. While it is a good thing to desire true repentance and revival, how can leaders who embrace a mystical spirituality and who don’t understand spiritual deception (and are even participating in spiritual deception) help bring about true revival?

In 2013, Beth Moore spoke at James Robison’s Awake Now Conference and said that God showed her a great spiritual awakening is coming. Interestingly, Moore warned that audience of over 4000 people about those who would question this great awakening and “downpour”:

But we must be prepared in advance for scoffers. I will say that again. We must be prepared in advance for scoffers. And here’s the thing. The unbelieving world scoffing is not going to bother us that much. We’re used to them thinking that we are idiots. . . . That’s not what’s going to bother us so much. What’s going to bother us, and I believe that God is saying, “Get prepared for it so you know in advance it is coming” so when it does happen you’re not all disturbed and all rocked by it because it is going to come from some in our own Christian realm—our own brothers and sisters. We’re going to have people that are honestly going to want to debate and argue with us about awakening and downpours. What do you want here? They’re going to say, that’s not the way it should look.

You know what, dude? I’m just asking you, are you thirsty? Are you hungry? I can’t think of the way to the semantics to get it like you want it. But I will say to you, I’m just thirsty, and I’m hungry. But there will be scoffers, and they will be the far bigger threat, the one within our own brothers and sisters, our own family of God—far, far more demoralizing. And yes, it will come from bullies, and yes, it will come from the mean-spirited.40

As if giving a prophetic warning, Beth Moore is setting the stage to marginalize discerning Christians who would question this great “spiritual awakening.” In other words, no one should dare challenge the leaders of this coming spiritual awakening even though Scripture instructs us to be good Bereans and to test all things with the Word of God.

Beth Moore’s statement that Brennan Manning’s contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel” has serious implications. Beatrice Bruteau, whom Manning said is a “trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness,” wrote the foreword to a book called The Mystic Heart by New Ager Wayne Teasdale. That book actually lays out the groundwork that contemplative prayer will unite Christianity with all the world’s religions at a mystical level. The complete union of all the world’s religions cannot be accomplished  without a form of mysticism (which removes all “doctrinal” barriers) within Christianity—and that form is contemplative prayer, the very thing that War Room’s two actresses promote.

Therefore thou hast forsaken thy people the house of Jacob, because they be replenished from the east, and are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they please themselves in the children of strangers. (Isaiah 2:6)

To order copies of Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them, click here.

1. Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God: How to Recognize When God Speaks (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2007 edition), p. 39
2. Beth Moore, Be Still DVD (Fox Home Entertainment, April 2006), section: “Contemplative Prayer: The Divine Romance Between God and Man”
3. Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God, op. cit.
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Beth Moore, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2002), p. 109.
7. Ibid., p. 60.
8. Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1995), p. 126-127.
9. Beth Moore, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, op. cit., pp. 72-73.
10. Beatrice Bruteau interview: The Song That Goes On Singing (
11. Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1994), p. 180.
12. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996, Revised Edition),  p. 218.
13. Ibid., p. 203.
14. Ibid., p. 200.
15. Beth Moore, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, op. cit., p. 290.
16. Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2000 Edition), p. 212.
17.  M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Keating, Thomas E. Clarke, Finding Grace at the Center  (Petersham, MA: St. Bede’s Pub., 1978), pp. 5-6; cited from A Time of Departing, 2nd ed., p.64 by Ray Yungen.
18. Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God, op. cit.
19. Whitney Hopler, “‘Be Still’ Invites Viewers to Discover Contemplative Prayer” (, March 27, 2006,, citing Amy Reinhold, Producer and Director of Be Still DVD.
20. Priscilla Shirer, Be Still DVD, op, cit., section: “Alone With God.”
21. Priscilla Shirer’s website:
22. Lance Witt, “Enjoying God’s Presence in Solitude” (Rick Warren’s original website:
23. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus, op. cit., p. 212.
24. Ray Yungen introduced this idea in his book A Time of Departing, chapter 1, page 15: In explaining how the mind is put into a neutral state during contemplative prayer: “The meditation most of us are familiar with involves a deep, continuous thinking about something. But New Age meditation entails just the opposite. It involves ridding oneself of all thoughts in order to still the mind by putting it in the equivalent of pause or neutral. A comparison would be that of turning a fast-moving stream into a still pond. When meditation is employed, stopping the free flow of thinking, it holds back active thought and causes a shift in consciousness. This condition is not to be confused with daydreaming, where the mind dwells on a subject. Visit
26. May 26, 2006 statement from Living Proof Ministries:
27. Ibid.
28. Beth Moore, Be Still DVD, op. cit.
29. Lighthouse Trails Editors, “Is Beth Moore’s ‘Spiritual Awakening’ Taking the Evangelical Church Toward Rome?” ( You can watch the video clip of Moore at this event on this page.
30. James Robison, “Pope Francis on Life Today” (
31. Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God, op. cit., p. 39.
33. Ibid., pp. 145-46.
35. Jan Johnson, Education: BA, Christian education, Ozark Christian College; journalism courses, UCLA; spirituality courses, Azusa Pacific University; graduate, Academy for Spiritual Formation; Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola 30-day Retreat, 2006; D.Min. Graduate Theological Foundation (Ignatian Spirituality & Spiritual Direction), 2006.
36. Read Roger Oakland’s article, “The Jesuit Agenda” to understand more about the Jesuits (see under booklet tracts).
39. Halee Gray Scott, “First Came the Bible” (Christianity Today, August 2010, Vol. 54, No. 8, Pg 27,
40. You can view this at:

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Appendix (included in the booklet)
The Nature Behind Contemplative Spirituality
By Ray Yungen
Many Christians might have great difficulty accepting the assessment that what is termed Christian mysticism is, in truth, not Christian at all. They might feel this rejection is spawned by a heresy-hunting mentality that completely ignores the love and devotion to God that also accompanies the mystical life. To those who are skeptical, I suggest examining the writings of Philip St. Romain, who wrote a book about his journey into contemplative prayer called Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality. This title is revealing because kundalini is a Hindu term for the mystical power or force that underlies Hindu spirituality. In Hinduism, it is commonly referred to as the serpent power.

St. Romain, a substance abuse counselor and devout Catholic lay minister, began his journey while practicing contemplative prayer or resting in the still point, as he called it. What happened to him following this practice should bear the utmost scrutiny from the evangelical community—especially from its leadership. The future course of evangelical Christianity rests on whether St. Romain’s path is just a fluke or if it is the norm for contemplative spirituality.

Having rejected mental prayer as “unproductive,”1 he embraced the prayer form that switches off the mind, creating what he described as a mental passivity. What he encountered next underscores my concern with sobering clarity:

Then came the lights! The gold swirls that I had noted on occasion began to intensify, forming themselves into patterns that both intrigued and captivated me . . . There were always four or five of these; as soon as one would fade, another would appear, even brighter and more intense . . . They came through complete passivity and only after I had been in the silence for a while. 2 (emphasis mine)

After this, St. Romain began to sense “wise sayings” coming into his mind and felt he was “receiving messages from another.”3 He also had physical developments occur during his periods in the silence. He would feel “prickly sensations” on the top of his head and at times it would “fizzle with energy.”4 This sensation would go on for days. The culmination of St. Romain’s mystical excursion was predictable—when you do Christian yoga or Christian Zen you end up with Christian samadhi as did he. He proclaimed:

No longer is there any sense of alienation, for the Ground that flows throughout my being is identical with the Reality of all creation. It seems that the mystics of all the world’s religions know something of this.5

St. Romain, logically, passed on to the next stage with:

[T]he significance of this work, perhaps, lies in its potential to contribute to the dialogue between Christianity and Eastern forms of mysticism such as are promoted in what is called New Age spirituality.6

Many people believe St. Romain is a devout Christian. He claims he loves Jesus, believes in salvation, and is a member in good standing within his church. What changed though were his sensibilities. He says:

I cannot make any decisions for myself without the approbation of the inner adviser, whose voice speaks so clearly in times of need . . . there is a distinct sense of an inner eye of some kind “seeing” with my two sense eyes.7

St. Romain would probably be astounded that somebody would question his claims to finding truth because of the positive nature of his mysticism. But is this “inner adviser” with whom St. Romain has connected really God? This is a fair question to ask especially when this prayer method has now spread within a broad spectrum of Christianity.

St. Romain makes one observation in his book that I take very seriously. Like his secular practical mystic brethren, he has a strong sense of mission and destiny. He predicts:

Could it be that those who make the journey to the True Self are, in some ways, demonstrating what lies in store for the entire race? What a magnificent world that would be—for the majority of people to be living out of the True Self state. Such a world cannot come, however, unless hundreds of thousands of people experience the regression of the Ego in the service of transcendence [meditation], and then restructure the culture to accommodate similar growth for millions of others. I believe we are only now beginning to recognize this task.8

A book titled Metaphysical Primer: A Guide to Understanding Metaphysics outlines the basic laws and principles of the New Age movement. First and foremost is the following principle:

You are one with the Deity, as is all of humanity . . . Everything is one with everything else. All that is on Earth is an expression of the One Deity and is permeated with Its energies.9

St. Romain’s statement was, “[T]he Ground [God] that flows throughout my being is identical with the Reality of all creation.”10 The two views are identical!

St. Romain came to this view through standard contemplative prayer, not Zen, not yoga but a Christian form of these practices.

Without the mystical connection, there can be no oneness. The second always follows the first. Here lies the heart of occultism.

There is a profound and imminent danger taking place within the walls of Christianity. Doctrine has become less important than feeling, and this has led to a mystical paradigm shift. People who promote a presumably godly form of spirituality can indeed come against the truth of Christ.

How could this mystical revolution have come about? How could this perspective have become so widespread? The answer is that over the last thirty or forty years a number of authors have struck a deep chord with millions of readers and seekers within Christianity. These writers have presented and promoted the contemplative view to the extent that many now see it as the only way to “go deeper” in the Christian life. They are the ones who prompt men and women to plunge into contemplative practice. It is their message that leads people to experience the “lights” and the “inner adviser!”

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Appendix Endnotes:
1. Philip St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1995), p. 24.
2. Ibid., pp. 20-21.
3. Ibid., pp. 22-23.
4. Ibid., pp. 28-29.
5. Ibid., p. 107.
6. Ibid., pp. 48-49.
7. Ibid., p. 39.
8. Ibid., pp. 75-76.
9. Deborah Hughes and Jane Robertson-Boudreaux, Metaphysical Primer: A Guide to Understanding Metaphysics (Estes Park, CO: Metagnosis Pub., 1991), p. 27.
10. St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality, op. cit., p. 107.

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NEW BOOKLET TRACT Provides Irrefutable Evidence: A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer

LTRP Note: For thirteen years, Lighthouse Trails has been warning about the contemplative prayer movement. In this new booklet tract, Ray Yungen has provided new information that makes the contemplative argument (against it) irrefutable. We intend to send a copy of this booklet to all of the major Christian leaders whom we have challenged including Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll,  Focus on the Family, Dr. George Wood (AOG), and Erwin Lutzer. If these leaders will read this evidence, we do not see how they can continue to promote contemplative spirituality or Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer.

A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer by Ray Yungen 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 A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer,  click here.

A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer

By Ray Yungen

[W]e should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.1—Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline: the Path to Spiritual Growth

Christianity is not complete without the contemplative dimension.2—Richard Foster

In Portland, Oregon there is a large bookstore devoted entirely to New Age spirituality. Every Eastern mystical and metaphysical topic under the sun is found there. Interestingly, there is a sizable section on contemplative prayer with Catholic monk Thomas Merton having a whole shelf devoted just to his writings. Why would a New Age bookstore give valuable space to a topic that purports to be Christian? That is a legitimate question. May I suggest the reason is that the “Christian” mystical tradition (i.e., contemplative prayer) shares a sense of profound kinship with the Eastern mystical tradition. There is ample evidence to support this claim.

In this booklet, we are going to examine a few of the major players in the contemplative prayer movement to show that Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer does not belong in Christianity. In fact, as you will see, the message behind it is the very opposite of biblical Christianity and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

What is the “School” of Contemplative Prayer?
In Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster says “we should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.” What does he mean when he says “school” of contemplative prayer? When Foster uses the word school, he does not mean, of course, a building or an institution somewhere. For example, Webster’s New World College Dictionary has nine different definitions for the word school. The one that fits what we are trying to get across is:

. . . a group of people held together by the same teachings, beliefs, opinions, methods, etc.3

When one examines the spiritual context of this definition, one can see what kind of spiritual “fruit” it produces. The only way you can ascertain the real essence of a movement is to look at the leaders or prominent individuals in that “school” to see just where their practices have led them, what conclusions they have come to, and what propels their vision of truth.

Let’s first establish what is meant by the word contemplation. Carl McColman in his Big Book of Christian Mysticism explains the context of it in the following way:

[Contemplation] comes from the Latin word contemplare, which means “to observe” or “to notice.” The word is also rooted in the word “temple,” however, relating it to sacred space. . . . Once Christianized, contemplation lost its association with divination [soothsaying] and came to signify the prayerful practice of attending to the presence of God.4

So if Foster is correct, the leaders of this movement are those who have turned to the presence of God in a unique and profound way, and their methods should be followed to achieve the same results.

Now let’s look at the spiritual perspectives of these leaders in the “school of contemplative prayer.”

Thomas Merton
Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk, is the most widely recognized of the modern-day contemplative writers. His influence is enormous in the contemplative field. Richard Foster quotes Merton over a dozen times in Celebration of Discipline and in other books as well, and many other evangelicals also quote Merton. The following entry from Merton’s published work, The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (written during his last trip to Asia*) speaks volumes as to Merton’s spiritual sympathies:

We went looking first for Chatral Rimpoche [a Tibetan holy man] at his hermitage above Ghoom. . . . We were told he was at an ani gompa, a nunnery, down the road. . . . So off we went toward Bagdogra and with some difficulty found the tiny nunnery . . . and there was Chatral, the greatest rimpoche [a Buddhist teacher] I have met so far and a very impressive person.

. . . We started talking about dzogchen and Nyingmapa meditation and “direct realization” and soon saw that we agreed very well. . . . The unspoken or half-spoken message of the talk was our complete understanding of each other as people who were somehow on the edge of great realization . . . and that it was a grace for us to meet one another. I wish I could see more of Chatral. He burst out and called me a rangjung Sangay (which apparently means a “natural Buddha”) . . . He told me, seriously, that perhaps he and I would attain to complete Buddhahood in our next lives, perhaps even in this life, and the parting note was a kind of compact that we would both do our best to make it in this life. I was profoundly moved, because he is so obviously a great man, the true practitioner of dzogchen, the best of the Nyingmapa lamas, marked by complete simplicity and freedom. He was surprised at getting on so well with a Christian and at one point laughed and said, “There must be something wrong here!” If I were going to settle down with a Tibetan guru, I think Chatral would be the one I’d choose.5 (emphasis added)

An equally revealing aspect of Merton’s Asian trip is what he experienced at a Buddhist shrine in Ceylon:

. . . an inner clearness, clarity, as if exploding from the rocks themselves, became evident and obvious. . . . All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear. The rock, all matter, all life, is charged with dharmakaya [the unity of all things and all people]. . . I don’t know when in my life I have ever had such a sense of beauty and spiritual validity running together in one aesthetic illumination. Surely . . . my Asian pilgrimage has come clear and purified itself. I . . . have seen what I was obscurely looking for. I don’t know what else remains.6 (emphasis added)

Why would someone who was so heavily involved in “Christian” mysticism be so entwined in and enthusiastically embracing of Buddhist mysticism? I considered titling this booklet Something’s Wrong Here because even though Chatral meant it in a positive way, when he said those words to Merton, he himself was shocked that Merton, a professing Christian, was basically on the same page as him and that they were able to fellowship.

One of Merton’s biographers, William Shannon, made this very clear when he explained:

If one wants to understand Merton’s going to the East it is important to understand that it was his rootedness in his own faith tradition [Catholicism] that gave him the spiritual equipment [contemplative prayer] he needed to grasp the way of wisdom that is proper to the East.7

What Merton meant by “dharmakaya” is actually what the New Age and eastern religions call cosmic consciousness (i.e., God is in everything and everybody.) But Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, guarantees the reader that what he’s promoting will not lead to cosmic consciousness. He states, “It involves no hidden mysteries, no secret mantras, no mental gymnastics, no esoteric flights into the cosmic consciousness.”8

Foster’s attempt to assuage any suspicion of practicing contemplative prayer is countered by William Shannon’s assertion that it was precisely contemplative prayer that brought Merton into his embracing of this Buddhist worldview.

A skeptic might say, well, Merton was just an anomaly who got off track, but in general the contemplative leads to the God of the Bible. I beg to differ. To show this is not the case, we need to look at other teachers in the “school of contemplative prayer.”

Henri Nouwen
Dutch Catholic priest, Henri Nouwen, would probably rank second to Merton in influence and admiration. Popular evangelical author Tony Campolo calls Nouwen “one of the great Christians of our time,” stating:

[Nouwen’s] writings have guided and inspired Christians of all persuasions . . . whose life was a brilliant example of twentieth-century saintliness.9

Campolo’s admiration is widely mirrored in the evangelical world; just as Merton is quoted in many evangelical books these days, so also is Nouwen. Kay Warren, Rick Warren’s wife, is one of the popular evangelicals who sees great value in Nouwen’s work:

My wife, Kay, recommends this book: “It’s a short book, but it hits at the heart of the minister. It mentions the struggles common to those of us in ministry: the temptation to be relevant, spectacular and powerful. I highlighted almost every word!”10 (emphasis added)

The book Kay Warren recommends is In the Name of Jesus by Nouwen, who devotes an entire chapter of that book to contemplative prayer, saying:

Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love . . . For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required.11 (emphasis added)

But just as Merton had absorbed eastern spirituality so too had Nouwen, which is no surprise because he was a disciple of Merton. Nouwen wrote the foreword to a book that mixes Christianity with Hindu spirituality, in which he says:

[T]he author shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Moslem religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian . . . Ryan [the author] went to India to learn from spiritual traditions other than his own. He brought home many treasures and offers them to us in the book.12

Nouwen apparently took these approaches seriously himself. In his book, The Way of the Heart, he advised his readers:

The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart . . . This way of simple prayer . . . opens us to God’s active presence.13

But what “God’s active presence” taught him, unfortunately, stood more in line with Hinduism than evangelical Christianity. He wrote:

Prayer is “soul work” because our souls are those sacred centers where all is one, . . . It is in the heart of God that we can come to the full realization of the unity of all that is.14 (emphasis mine)

Again, a Christian admirer of Nouwen may think the previous quotes could fit into a legitimate Christian experience of God’s love and grace and that I am just taking these out of context. But this is certainly not the case. Nouwen himself revealed his spiritual influences in his diary, Sabbatical Journey, which he wrote shortly before his death:

On our way to the health club I had bought a Walkman to listen to an audiotape with a talk by Matthew Fox called “Creation, Spirituality, and the Seven Chakras.” So, while working up a sweat on the trotter, I tried to make my time useful listening to Matthew Fox.15

This piece of information reveals that Nouwen was connected to the idea that the chakras, (which the previous quotes are based on) are integral to spiritual development. The crown chakra, in particular, is the one that is tied to the idea that all is one and the unity of everything that is.16

In the book, The Essential Henri Nouwen, which is published by Shambhala Publications (a Buddhist publishing house), Nouwen said contemplative prayer “opens our eyes to the presence of the divine Spirit in all that surrounds us.”17 That is exactly the same as what Merton meant by dharmakaya, that God is in everything that exists (panentheism, which mirrors occultism).

Thomas Keating
Thomas Keating, a trappist monk like Merton, is head of an organization called Contemplative Outreach. He is closely identified with the contemplative prayer (which he calls centering prayer) movement. Keating has written numerous books on the subject of contemplative prayer; in fact, one of evangelical Christianity’s most popular teachers, Ruth Haley Barton, considers Keating to be a strong spiritual influence in her life.18

Keating actually makes this point when he informs his readers that “‘meditation’ means to people exposed to Eastern methods what we Christians mean by contemplation as a way of disregarding the usual flow of thoughts for certain periods of time.”19

As with the others, Keating went in a Hindu or New Age direction, and he wrote the foreword to a book devoted to what practitioners of Yoga call the Kundalini or serpent power:

Since this energy [kundalini] is also at work today in numerous persons who are devoting themselves to contemplative prayer, this book is an important contribution to the renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition. It will be a great consolation to those who have experienced physical symptoms arising from the awakening of kundalini in the course of their spiritual journey . . . Most spiritual disciplines world-wide insist on some kind of serious discipline before techniques of awakening kundalini are communicated. In Christian tradition . . . the regular practice of the stages of Christian prayer . . . contemplation are the essential disciplines.20

To show how far someone can stray using contemplative prayer as a way to reach God, Keating is a perfect example. Keating enthusiastically endorses a book titled Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey in Christian Hermeticism. Fortune-telling Tarot cards are one of the major tools for divination in occultism; and Hermeticism is a set of ancient esoteric beliefs based on the writings of Hermes Trismegistus, the one who coined the occult term “as above so below.” Keating said the book is one of the “great spiritual classics of this century.”21 He drifted so afield from even Catholicism that it is difficult to comprehend.

Richard Rohr
Without a doubt, Catholic priest Richard Rohr is one of the most prominent living proponents of contemplative prayer today. His organization, The Center for Contemplation and Action, is a bastion for contemplative spirituality. And like our other contemplative prayer “school” masters, he has been embraced by numerous popular evangelical authors. Richard Foster, for example, had Rohr on an advisory board for a 2010 book Foster edited titled 25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Essential Devotional Classics.22

Rohr has essentially become the new Thomas Merton to an entirely new generation of evangelical Christians. In an interview, Rohr said:

[O]ne of my publishers . . . told me that right now my single biggest demographic is young evangelicals—young evangelicals. Some of my books are rather heavy. I’m just amazed.23

Rohr’s statement is correct about young evangelicals. A case in point is an organization called IF: Gathering. The leaders of IF are dynamic energetic women who hold large conferences geared primarily toward young evangelical women. While these women may be sincere in what they are trying to do, they promote figures such as emergent leaders Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, as well as Richard Rohr. Lighthouse Trails has published a booklet on IF that I encourage you to read to understand the full scope of this growing women’s movement.24

To further understand the significance of this, Rohr is a prominent champion for the idea of a global religion that would unify the world. He says that “religion needs a new language.”25 And that language to bring about this one-world religion is mysticism (i.e., contemplative prayer)! Rohr stated:

Right now there is an emergence . . . it’s coming from so many different traditions and sources and parts of the world. Maybe it’s an example of the globalization of spirituality.26

This view ties in perfectly with the emerging church’s perspective that is so popular among younger evangelicals today. It’s no wonder that Richard Rohr and emerging church leaders (such as Brian McLaren) are so supportive of each other and endorse each other’s books.

In echoing Merton and Nouwen, Rohr also advocates the concept of dharmakaya. This is the recurring theme of the “school” of contemplative prayer. Rohr states:

God’s hope for humanity is that one day we will all recognize that the divine dwelling place is all of creation. Christ comes again whenever we see that matter and spirit co-exist. This truly deserves to be called good news.27

To dispel any confusion about what Rohr is saying, he makes it clear in the same paragraph what he means by God dwelling in all creation. He uses a term that one finds throughout contemplative literature, which signifies that Christ is more of an energy than a personal being. Rohr explains the term “cosmic Christ,” telling readers that everything and everyone belongs to God’s kingdom.28 That’s even the name of one of his books, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer.

In his 2011 book, Falling Upward, Rohr implies that we (humanity) are all an “immaculate conception.”29 If these things are true, then there was no need for Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for the sins of mankind. We would not need a Savior because we would already be divine ourselves. In truth, contemplative spirituality is the antithesis of the Gospel. That is why there are countless mystics who claim to know God (or Jesus) but will have nothing to do with the Cross.

The New Age Connection
Lighthouse Trails Publishing’s main endeavor since its inception has been to show the strong connection between the contemplative prayer movement and the broader spectrum of New Age spirituality as pointed out at the beginning of this booklet. One can prove the overwhelmingly strong parallels. The authors I have just profiled are not unique in what they say. I could list several pages of other contemplative authors that say the identical things.

I want to showcase one other author who represents the typical contemplative viewpoint. Tom Harpur, a well-known author, broadcaster, and Anglican priest in Canada sums up what you would find in virtually every contemplative book from the Roman Catholic and Anglican tradition. In talking about his upbringing in the traditional Anglican church, he explains the radical difference between his former Christianity and his contemplative Christianity:

There was much more emphasis on our basic sinfulness and depravity than there ever was on the possibility of God already being present in our souls or “hearts.” I was told to again accept Christ and “let him come in” instead of being helped to acknowledge the fact that all I had to do was to open my inner eye and realize God was already there waiting to be known and followed. We were taught little, if anything, about the great mystics and about the long tradition of meditation in our own Christian faith.30 (emphasis added)

Harpur makes Lighthouse Trails’ point very succinctly that the mystical tradition that is coming to the forefront now does not correspond to the biblical Gospel that has been at the heart of Christianity.

Let me say this: If the contemplative prayer movement was not connected to historically respected denominations, that if it was an independent organization such as the ones found in books on cults, then the contemplative prayer movement would be labeled a cult by most evangelical organizations because of the extreme aberrations one finds concerning the Gospel. Merton’s dharmakaya cannot be reconciled with justification through faith by the blood of Christ.

The Age of Enlightenment
Another good example to show that contemplative prayer shares the same view as known occultists can be found in a book called Tomorrow’s God by New Age author Neale Donald Walsch, in which he presents the coming world religion that will unify mankind in what is called the Age of Aquarius or Age of Enlightenment (i.e., the New Age). He says the first step is to “[b]egin a schedule of daily practice in meditation, deep prayer, silent listening.”31 After giving the mechanics of the new spirituality, Walsch gives the theology which is: “In the days of the New spirituality the unity of all things will be experiential.”32

This is what the contemplatives experience in their mystical sessions. Walsch again says, “The Big Idea is that there is only One God, and this one God does not care whether you are Catholic or Protestant, Jewish or Muslim, Hindu or Mormon, or have no religion at all.”33 This is basically what Richard Rohr is saying in Everything Belongs. And this is the reason why Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer is not, and never will be, compatible with traditional biblical Christianity or the Gospel message proclaimed by Jesus Christ and his disciples.

Final Thoughts
If I were to ever meet someone who asked me, “why are you out to destroy Richard Foster?,” I would tell them: I actually care about Richard Foster. The things I write about him are not out of malice or ill-will but out of a deep sense of commitment to his and his readers’ spiritual well-being. Celebration of Discipline is at the heart (both directly or indirectly) of the majority of Spiritual Formation programs in Bible schools, seminaries, Christian colleges, and universities. What the Tibetan holy man said in response to Thomas Merton’s belief—“There must be something wrong here!”—is the same sentiment that propels the writing of this booklet. There is something wrong here!

Contrary to what the contemplatives teach, there is duality, and the Bible teaches it—there are the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the tares, the saved and the unsaved, and the righteous and the unrighteous. New Age thinkers would reject this because they believe all is God. In the contemplative camp when Richard Rohr says everything belongs, this is what makes it New Age. The golden calf and Yahweh are not the same God. It was the cause for God’s anger. Simply put, everything does not belong!

My prayer is that people can see the logic in this. And what makes it even more imperative is that this contemplative view comes from supernatural sources. We are not dealing with just human perspectives and ideas.

Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer employs the same methods as those of Richard Rohr and Thomas Merton that lead to a certain perception. The following quote by Foster further illustrates this:

We shut out every other source of stimulation—sensual, intellectual and reflective—in order to focus on God alone. At this level, we even move beyond our thoughts of God in order to dwell in his presence without thought or distraction.34

This is exactly the contemplative prayer that Thomas Merton embraced, which led Episcopal priest Brian C. Taylor to say:

The God he [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment.35

What we conclude is that Thomas Merton’s spirituality has come into the evangelical church through Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer. And this is one school where no Christian should enroll.

To order copies of A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer,  click here.

1. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1978 edition), p. 13.
2. Interview with Richard Foster, Lou Davies Radio Program (KPAM radio, Portland, Oregon, Nov. 24, 1998).
3. Webster’s New World College Dictionary, p. 1283.
4. Carl McColman, Big Book of Christian Mysticism (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Road Publishing, 2010), p. 222.
5. Thomas Merton, The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (New Directions Books, 1975), pp. 234-236.
6. Ibid.
7. William Shannon, Silence on Fire (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1991), p. 99.
8. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (HarperCollins, 2009, Kindle Edition), p. 17.
9. Tony Campolo, Speaking My Mind (Nashville, TN: W. Publishing Group, 2004), p. 72.
10. Rick Warren quoting Kay Warren on the Ministry Toolbox (Issue #54, 6/5/2002,
11. Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 2000), pp. 6, 31-32.
12. Thomas Ryan, Disciplines for Christian Living (Mawah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1993), pp. 2-3 (the foreword by Henri Nouwen).
13. Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1991), p. 81.
14. Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1997), Jan. 15 and Nov. 16 daily readings.
15. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 496-497.
16. These two thoughts are found in the writings of Matthew Fox and many other New Age advocates.
17. Robert A. Jonas (Editor), The Essential Henri Nouwen (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, 2009), p. 38.
18. Lighthouse Trails Editors, “More Evidence and a Final Plea as Assemblies of God Conference with Ruth Haley Barton Begins August 5th” (Lighthouse Trails blog:
19. Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1994), p. 117.
20. Philip St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality (Crossroad, 1995). This excerpt is in the foreword by Thomas Keating.
21. Thomas Keating, review:
22. Lighthouse Trails Editors, “Richard Foster’s Renovare Turns to Panentheist Mystic Richard Rohr and Emerging Darling Phyllis Tickle For New Book Project” (September 14, 2010,
23. Kristen Hobby, “What Happens When Religion Isn’t Doing Its Job: an interview with Richard Rohr, OFM” (Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction, Volume 20, No. 1, March 2014), pp. 6-11.
24. You can read the entire booklet at: or purchase it as a booklet at
25. Kristen Hobby interview with Richard Rohr, op. cit. , p. 6
26. Ibid.
27. Rich Heffern, “The Eternal Christ in the Cosmic Story” (National Catholic Reporter, December 11, 2009,
28. Ibid.
29. Richard Rohr, Falling Upward (San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, 2011), p. ix.
30. Tom Harpur, Prayer: The Hidden Fire (Wood Lake Publishing, Kindle Edition, 2012), Kindle Locations 1099-1102.
31. Neale Donald Walsch, Tomorrow’s God (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2004), p. 223.
32. Ibid., p. 263.
33. Ibid., p. 241.
34. Richard Foster, Gayle Beede, Longing for God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009), p. 252.
35. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing, 1996), p. 76.

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Letter to the Editor: Lighthouse Trails Has Exaggerated Condition of Christian Missionary Alliance

C&MA logo

Dear Editors at Lighthouse Trails:

I stumbled onto your website while looking for a video from this year’s Alliance Council featuring John Stumbo. In your writings, you largely promote the idea the C&MA is espousing the emergent church, contemplative prayer, spiritual formation blather.

I have never, ever heard this in my church. EVER. So, for you to paint the C&MA with such a wide brush is sensationalistic, to say the least. Perhaps occasionally a misled pastor will go down that road. Such a pastor needs to be brought into line, in my opinion. The colleges that “teach” these courses—are they teaching them to promote them, or are they teaching these classes in a effort to enlighten students as to the evils that can weave their way into ministry? You don’t say which in your writings which I find, again, sensationalistic.

Never once have I heard or read anything from John Stumbo promoting any of this emergent church ‘trend’.

Defend yourself. I’ll be waiting for a reply.


Dear SN:

We wish we were being sensationalistic and exaggerating the issue. Unfortunately (and sadly), Christian and Missionary Alliance (and most other evangelical denominations) have been embracing contemplative prayer, Spiritual Formation, and the emerging “new” spirituality for quite some time, and we see no signs of this letting up. A few denominations are just dabbling in it, but most, including C&MA, are well immersed as Lighthouse Trails has been documenting for over 13 years. Does this mean that every church in each of these denominations is involved in this? No, and Lighthouse Trails has always maintained that. But in virtually every case where a denomination is moving in this direction, there is evidence that it is existent in upper leadership.A case in point is C&MA. Just visit the main C&MA website, search through their magazine archives, books they are selling, and so forth, and you will find numerous contemplative/emergent references, such as an article written by the late (d. 2011) C&MA Senior Pastor from Salem, Oregon Donald Bubna titled “The Journey” where Bubna states:

To learn from others on the spiritual journey, I have discovered and devoured the writings of Henri Nouwen, Philip Yancey and Thomas Merton on the issue of full surrender to the deeper life.

Nouwen and Merton were both interspiritual Catholic mystics. Yancey is an evangelical contemplative advocate. Bubna was not an “occasional” example of a C&MA pastor who has had such persuasions. And in fact, the Salem C&MA church has been a contemplative influence for many years on Alliance members.

Another example: In a 2013 C&MA magazine article titled “The Lord’s Dream,” the author explains how a C&MA church in Philadelphia, PA is in close relationship with emergent author Shane Claiborne’s church, and on at least one occasion, Claiborne spoke at the C&MA church, filling in for the pastor one Sunday. Claiborne was mentored by and resonates with emergent leader Tony Campolo.

And a third example, Richard Bush, superintendent of the New England District of the U.S. C&MA, wrote an article titled “Transformed,” in which he favorably quotes heavy-weight contemplative leader Ruth Haley Barton. Barton was trained at the New Age sympathizing interspiritual Shalem Prayer Institute in Washington, DC, and she has an organization that teaches thousands of pastors contemplative practices and Spiritual Formation. Clearly, Bush resonates with Barton for him to use her as an example of Christians being “transformed.”

One last example, at the 2013 C&MA Council conference, one of the seminars was presented by a woman who  taught the class in the contemplative practice of “lectio divina.”

These examples are coming from C&MA leadership. With 500,000 members in 2000 churches, the C&MA is a strong force within evangelical Christianity, and if they end up in the wrong place, they’ll be taking a lot of people with them.

In reference to your comment about C&MA president John Stumbo, Lighthouse Trails has only mentioned him in one article and that was one this past summer where we stated that Stumbo will be sharing a platform with New Age sympathizer Leonard Sweet at the Christian Missionary Alliance Mahaffey Family Camp. Please refer to that article for information about the beliefs of Leonard Sweet. Incidentally, John Stumbo was the senior pastor of Salem Missionary Alliance prior to becoming C&MA president. During those years, Salem C&MA was promoting contemplative spirituality (in fact, Ray Yungen talks about this church in his book A Time of Departing).

Listed below are several articles (which all have documentation) regarding Christian & Missionary Alliance that we have posted over the years. Please take the time to study this information, and in so doing, you will see that C&MA has indeed gone down the contemplative/emergent path. As for the college situation, after 13 years of tracking the evangelical colleges and seminaries, over 90% of them are now promoting this same path, and we have documented this time and again as well.  As a matter of fact, we have learned that all C&MA colleges and seminaries are promoting this.

While we acknowledge that it is difficult to hear these things about one’s own denomination, for the sake of truth, we hope Christians reading Lighthouse Trails material will take it to heart, do their homework, and see if these things we say are not true.

C&MA Research Articles:

The Christian and Missionary Alliance Hooks Up with the IAHR (International Association of Healing Rooms)

Letter to the Editor: Christian & Missionary Alliance (Canada) Promoting Interspiritual, Panentheist Monk, Basil Pennington

Christian Missionary Alliance (CMA) Mahaffey Family Camp Brings in New Age Sympathizer Leonard Sweet as Camp Speaker

Christian & Missionary Alliance Rob Reimer Loses His Way in “Pathways to the King:” A Review

Letter to the Editor: Saddened by Christian & Missionary Alliance and Ambrose University Continuing Plunge into Contemplative

Letter to the Editor: Christian & Missionary Alliance OK With Ruth Haley Barton and Other Contemplatives

Alliance Theological Seminary Dean Ron Walborn Recommends NAR Bill Johnson (and more!) for Pastors

COLLEGE ALERT: CMA Simpson University Students Seek Contemplative Chapel Experience

Ambrose University (CMA & Nazarene) Full Speed into Contemplative/Emergent




LECTIO DIVINA – What it is, What it is not, and Should Christians Practice it?

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:
2. Thomas Keating, “The Classical Monastic Practice of Lectio Divina” (
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,
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.


NEW BOOKLET TRACT: Be Still and Know That You are Not God!—God is Not “in” Everyone and Everything

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)

Final Thoughts

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.
28. Ibid.
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, (, 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, 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.
41. Ibid.
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 Labyrinth Journey: Walking the Path to Fulfillment?

labyrinth2The 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.

Carl Teichrib

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” ( 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 Another example is the Breemie Labyrinth Mid-Summer Festival at
6. See
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,
11. See footnote 5.
12. Kathy Doore, “Myth and History of Labyrinths”(“Official Blog of Kathy Doore,”
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 (
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”  ( 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:
31. Ibid.
32. Ibid.
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” (
36. Paul Clasper, Eastern Paths and the Christian Way (Orbis Books, 1980), p.108.

To order copies of The Labyrinth Journey click here.

For more information on labyrinths, visit  Also visit the author’s website, Forcing Change Ministries, at

* Theosophy is a blend of mystical traditions, ancient mystery religions, and eastern philosophies.

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