Posts Tagged ‘carl teichrib’

Labyrinths Have Found Their Place in the Christian Church

We received the top two photos this week from a reader. Below that are photos of various labyrinths in churches across North America. We have posted these, not to single out these particular churches, but rather to show examples of how many denominations have now incorporated the contemplative mystical practice of walking the labyrinth. And this is only showing some of the churches that have labyrinths on site. There are countless churches, ministries, and denominations that may not necessarily have labyrinths on site, but pastors and leaders encourage their congregations or followers to use them (e.g., the Reformed Church of America), or they encourage their congregations to visit retreat centers that have them.  Carl Teichrib has written an excellent article/booklet on labyrinths that is worth the read.

(The photos used below are low resolution photos used in accordance with the U.S. Fair Use Act for the critique, review, and dissemination of information.)

Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Orcas Island, Washington

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Mark Lutheran, Salem, Oregon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Millbrook Baptist, Raleigh, NC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mennonite Church Eastern Canada

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wesleyan University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Calvin Presbyterian Church, Zelienople PA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First United Methodist Church, Boulder, CO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fuller Theological Seminary

10 PRACTICAL THINGS ABOUT LIGHTHOUSE TRAILS YOU MIGHT FIND USEFUL

10 things you might find useful about the practical aspects of Lighthouse Trails Publishing & Research Project:

1. WEBSITES—We have two main sites: www.lighthousetrails.com, which is the publishing site and store that sells all our products and www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com, which is where our news blog is located as well as the main research site. The blog has thousands of up-to-date articles, and the research site has hundreds of archived pages of the research we have done since 2004 (the year our research project went online). The store site, the research site, and the blog each have their own search engine you can use to find materials and information.

2. AUTHORS—Lighthouse Trails represents over 35 authors throughout North America and the UK. You can read about each author on our author page and see what kinds of material they each provide.

3. LIBRARIES—Our books are now in hundreds of libraries across the U.S., and if you would like to get some of our titles into your own local library, it’s easy and doesn’t cost you anything. Just call or visit your library, give the librarian the title and/or the ISBN of any title and ask her to bring that title into circulation. Tell your librarian that our books can be ordered through Baker & Taylor, which is the main distributor to U.S. libraries.

4. BOOKSTORES—All of the Lighthouse Trails books and DVDs (the ones we publish ourselves) are carried by national mainstream distributors including Ingram, SpringArbor, Baker & Taylor, and Anchor. This means that virtually ANY bookstore (with the exception of LifeWay which will not carry or order any LT products) in the U.S. can easily order any of our titles. Many times people call us and tell us that their local bookstore has told them they cannot get our books. But actually, they can! Even if a bookstore can’t buy through these distributors for some reason, the bookstore can always buy at wholesale prices directly from us.

5. ONLINE BOOK OUTLETS & MINISTRIES—All of the Lighthouse Trails books and DVDS (the ones we publish ourselves) are available to the general public through numerous online outlets including Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CBD, etc. Ministries such as The Berean Call, Understand the Times, Scripture Truth, Faith View Books, and several others each carry a number of our books and booklets as well.

6. NEWSLETTERS & JOURNAL—Lighthouse Trails has both an e-newsletter, (see archives) which is delivered to readers’ e-mail boxes two to three times a month. We also have a low-cost subscription-based print journal, which is 32 pages and sent to homes, churches, and offices every other month. Many of our readers are getting both the e-newsletter and the journal, while some prefer just one option. We encourage our readers to get the print journal, regardless of whether they get the e-mail because it is great for sharing with others and also very convenient.

7. E-BOOKS & BOOKLETS—Lighthouse Trails books, booklets, and now print journals are also available in both e-pub and PDF formats. Use e-pubs if you have an e-reader, and use PDFs if you don’t and just want to read on your computer or print the document. You can purchase our e-books, e-booklets, and e-journals directly from our website, or you may buy them from Amazon’s Kindle program or Barnes and Noble’s Nook program.

8. SPEAKERS/LECTURERS—A number of our authors are available to speak at your church, conference, radio program, or group: Warren B. Smith, Roger Oakland, Chris Lawson, Anita Dittman (in MN only), Carl Teichrib, Cedric Fisher, Greg Reid, Jim Fletcher, Lynn Lusby Pratt, Mary Danielsen, Mike Oppenheimer, Tony Pearce (in the UK), and Sandy Simpson. You may acquaint yourself with these authors by reading their materials. Several of them have LT author websites where you can read articles and get contact information. Visit this page here to see our list. These are wonderful brothers and sisters who are committed to the Lord, to His Word, and to defending truth.

9. INTERNATIONAL MISSIONS—In 2010, Lighthouse Trails began supporting the mission work of the Bryce Homes Program, homes for needy Christian families now located in several different countries under the leadership of Understand the Times. Since then, Lighthouse Trails readers have contributed substantially to this Gospel-focused missions effort.

10. TENT INDUSTRY—In 2010, Lighthouse Trails started a small division called The Shepherd’s Garden and created our very own line of organic Bible-verse tea. We now have 6 different blends plus a sampler box. We started this side industry as a way to help keep Lighthouse Trails financially stable. Lighthouse Trails is not a non-profit, and thus, we don’t get the number of donations that a 501 (c) 3 organization would get. The tea is a great way to give us a boost without having it be labor intensive, which would draw us away from the work we do at Lighthouse Trails. Since The Shepherd’s Garden began, many many LT readers have purchased the tea and tell us they love how it tastes and love the little KJV verses on a tag on each bag of tea.

 

(photo used from bigstockphoto; used with permission)

 

Attempts to Blend Christianity with Other Religions

By Maria Kneas

Numerous attempts have been made to blend Christianity with other religions on a world-wide scale. You can read about them in Carl Teichrib’s article “Unveiling the Global Interfaith Agenda.”1

There are also other attempts to merge Christianity with different religions. For example, Chrislam tries to combine Christianity with Islam.2 There are people who call themselves Christian witches (i.e., combining Christianity with Wicca). There are attempts to mix Christianity with Hinduism, and with Buddhism, and with Shamanism. (A shaman is a Native American medicine man.) Some people claim to be Christian witch doctors or Christian sorcerers. You can even buy a book about Christian Voodoo.3

Nominal Christians are people who are Christians in name only. They call themselves Christians, but they really aren’t. They don’t have a relationship with Jesus Christ, they ignore or deny foundational Christian doctrines, and they don’t try to live the way God has instructed us as described in the Bible. Such people can fit in with other religions. However, born-again Christians aren’t able to do that because they have God’s Spirit living inside them Who convicts them of sin and enables them to trust and obey the Lord. And because God is living inside them, He gives them the grace and strength to abide in Him. Simply put, biblical Christianity cannot mix with other religions.

             Water and oil | bigstockphoto.com

To compare it to something physical in everyday life, you cannot mix oil and water. Because of their very nature, they just don’t mix. You can put them in a glass jar and shake them until they seem to be blended, but then they will separate and the oil will rise to the top of the jar.

To carry that analogy further, if you add an emulsifier, then they can mix. It goes against their nature, but the emulsifier bridges that gap. In real life, Christians who are under severe pressure (such as the threat of prison or torture or death) may go against their nature and try to blend in with whatever is politically correct. That happened in Nazi Germany. I’ve seen pictures of church altars with swastikas on them. However, Jesus warned us not to make such compromises:

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 10:32-33)

These days, it is not politically correct to be “exclusive” by claiming that Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation. However, we need to be biblically correct rather than  politically correct. The antidote to the fear of men is the fear of the Lord. Jesus warned us:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. (Proverbs 1:7)

Jesus made it clear He is the only way to be right with God the Father. There is no other source of salvation. He said:

I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. (John 10:7-11)

My Hope is Built on Nothing Less
(by Edward Mote, 1797-1874)

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale
My anchor holds within the veil.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

His oath, His covenant, and blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When every earthly prop gives way,
He then is all my Hope and Stay.
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found,
Clothed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne!
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.

Endnotes:

1. Carl Teichrib, “Unveiling the Global Interfaith Agenda” (Kjos Ministries, October 2, 2011, www.crossroad.to/articles2/forcing change/11/interfaith.htm).
2. To read more about Chrislam, read Mike Oppenheimer’s article/booklet titled, Chrislam: The Blending of Islam & Christianity: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=13109.
3. I found all of these attempts to mix Christianity with other religions by doing a quick search on the Internet. You can easily find them for yourself. Just search for “Christian” plus any other religion or spiritual practice that you can think of.

Maria Kneas is the author of two Lighthouse Trails books and several booklets.

Letter to the Editor: My Story About Freemasonry in My Church

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I have just read the excellent booklet that you generously provided in your recent newsletter by Carl Teichrib; FREEMASONRY: A Revealing Look at the Spiritual Side.

Back in the early 1990s, my family was able to relocate to a small town in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. We had previously been members of an independent Bible church in Florida. Among our first priorities after settling in was to find a similar church that preached the Word and was focused on missions. We found a very small Christian and Missionary Alliance Church that at the time had only about 30 members with a very young pastor that had just graduated from seminary. This was a wonderful answer to prayer. The church was already starting to sponsor several missionaries, and the pastor and I began a close friendship. Soon after the pastor asked me if I would consider being an elder. I had been a deacon at the church in Florida, and having been a Christian for only 5 years at this point, I really thought I might not qualify to be an elder. After much prayer about this, I humbly accepted the position. Part of my decision was based on the certainty that the Lord had given me the gift of discernment soon after I was born again . . . (but that is a whole other story).

The building we rented for our services was very small, seating maybe 35-40. Soon we began to look for a larger building to suit our growing congregation. We found a beautiful piece of land just on the edge of town that had previously been occupied by a Jehovah’s Witness group. After praying that the Lord would cleanse the building, we started much needed work on the sanctuary and the small other building that would be for a nursery.

At this time, a man suddenly started coming to our church and put himself right away to the business of woodworking and painting. He had skills in construction that none of us possessed so his help was greatly appreciated. I soon found out that he was a Freemason. Of the 5 elders in the congregation, only I and one other (that had left masonry after becoming a Christian) knew the ramifications of this man’s intention of becoming a member of the congregation. I looked at our By-Laws and could not find anything prohibiting a member of a secret society from becoming a member. So I got busy getting together materials to discuss with the pastor and elders that dealt with Freemasonry. At the time, I had a book by John Ankerberg that I used to highlight all the reasons a Freemason could not be a true Christian (or at the very least, would be a compromising one) being that he would be serving two masters.

Since this man had asked to be a member, we elders had a meeting with him after the elders had educated themselves about the serious spiritual ramifications of his joining the membership. We gently but firmly talked to this man about the biblical reasons that this secret society could not coexist with Christianity. He claimed he went to a “Christian Lodge,” and he did not seem to understand what we were talking about. The man and his wife met with the pastor and said he was offended by what we were implying. It was his view that we were saying he was not a Christian, which we had never said in the first meeting. The next few weeks the man did not come to church. I had the church vote on a by-law that would not allow a member of a secret society to become a member of the church. Several weeks later the man called the pastor and told him that he owned a parcel of land adjoining our small plot of land. He said he would sell it to us if only he could become a member of the church and that if the elders and especially me would apologize to him and his wife based on Matthew 18:15 where a brother sins against another brother!

Much to my surprise (and horror), the pastor (and my friend) wanted me to ignore the new by-law and personally apologize to this man solely for the reason of obtaining this parcel of land from him that he was offering at a great discount!

This was a very agonizing time for me and my wife. We earnestly prayed about what to do. I could not in good faith apologize to this man when I had only tried to show him the errors of his way using Scripture and resources to back up what I was saying. I felt betrayed by the pastor. Some of the elders (except for one) did not even know what all the fuss was about! For these reasons, we reluctantly left that church that we had so dearly come to love. My wife had started a Pioneer Club for the children and I had taught adult Sunday school there.

Soon afterwards, a CMA higher up came and discussed church growth, and the man in question sold the parcel to the church.

This is an example of how Satan ruins a good thing when discernment is nearly absent from a local congregation.

By the way, the other elder that was a mason before he became saved also left that CMA church soon after I did based on his convictions that very few of the elders and pastor had any discernment and also because of the new blueprints that the CMA leader had come up with for church growth. Basically, that plan was to be a seeker-friendly church that added members that wanted to join whomever they may be (saved or unsaved).

After we left the CMA church, we looked for a new church and settled on the big First Baptist church in town (Southern Baptist). My youngest son accepted Christ as his Savior there and was baptized, and we were happy they had a nice youth group. About two years later, the youth pastor left, and they replaced him with a Rick Warren fan. Several of the parents wanted to have a meeting with him and the deacons to discuss our concerns. It was not only the fact that all he talked about was Rick Warren, but my son said that unlike with the previous youth pastor, this young man was teaching them things that had nothing to do about the Bible. My son showed me his notes: it was all man’s wisdom and philosophies that he was espousing. The meeting was very tense. The youth pastor again accused us of not coming to him in private first and citing . . . you guessed it: Matthew 18 again! The deacons were all Masons, and they were not sympathetic to our concerns.

Before moving back to Florida, we started up a small congregation of about 12 families; most of them the parents of the youth group at the big Baptist church. About this same time, I was reading a book by a former Mason-turned-Christian that mentioned that a tactic that the local lodges used was infiltrating the local churches and reporting back to their lodge on the church’s activities. That really creeped me out.

Maranatha!

A believer in Florida

NEW BOOKLET: FREEMASONRY: A Revealing Look at the Spiritual Side

NEW BOOKLET: FREEMASONRY: A Revealing Look at the Spiritual Side by Carl Teichrib is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet.  The Booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet.  To order copies of  FREEMASONRY: A Revealing Look at the Spiritual Side, click here. 

FREEMASONRY: A Revealing Look at the Spiritual Side

By Carl Teichrib

Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God. . . . Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any. (Isaiah 44:6,8)

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. (John 14:6)

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.—Jesus (Revelation 22:13)

Warning bells sounded in my head. What have you been accused of? The setting was simple; a near-empty restaurant in a sleepy prairie town with two respected community members across the table. I knew what they wanted: my involvement in a local organization, for I had been approached numerous times about joining. As an energetic young man in my mid-20s and very involved in the community, I was a perfect candidate . . . so I was told.

Similar to other conversations, it was evident my dinner hosts were trying to explain something without actually telling me anything. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink, but never getting to the point; it was a sales pitch cloaked in ambiguity.

It would be beneficial for you to join, I was told. We make good men better, I was promised. They waxed on about a legacy, doing good work, and having a sense of camaraderie, and the importance of regular meetings. And it all took place in the “building-with-no-windows.”

More meetings? Between family, church, and a host of activities attached to my workplace, my life was busy enough without adding more. Yet these men believed it would be important for me to become a Freemason. So I listened to repetitious non-explanations and interjected where I could.

“Is your group political?” I asked, knowing the answer from previous chats. No.

“Religious?” No.

“Ok, then what are you about?” My query was an open door.

Chairs shifted as they glanced at each other and then back to me. The silence was palpable. And then the hammer dropped.

“We’re not Satanists.” It was said so matter-of-factually, as if it were a normal response when at a loss for something to say. But for me, it was as if a lightening bolt had been shot through a dense fog. Where did this come from?

The thought had never entered my mind, and there was nothing I could correlate this statement to. I was stunned.

Were my dinner colleagues trying to dispel rumors or alleviate fears—but of what? Why say something so outrageous?

In retrospect, they were probably acting preemptively. The year was 1991, before the public had access to the Internet, and television documentaries on the subject were unheard of. If fears of rumors existed, it didn’t stem from the information battleground we experience today. Rather, my board members would have likely viewed it as emanating from a church context. This was what they were probably trying to dispel.

Compelled by the Satan-bomb to find out what the Lodge was about, but not wanting to join, I determined to obtain their rituals and philosophical texts. Books examining and critiquing the Lodge had already been published, but I didn’t know this at the time. What I did know was that a body of internal literature existed. Thus began a quest to collect the texts and materials of the Lodge. Along the way, I talked with current Masons, probed into community archives, and studied the subject.

Interpretations

Freemasonry has long been called a secret society. But this is a misnomer. Properly defined, a secret society is an organization that intentionally remains unknown to all outside of the closed group. Not so with the Lodge. Its existence and the location of its buildings are public knowledge. Moreover, the Craft’s internal secrets of recognition—its grips, signs, and symbols—have long been publicly circulated. Likewise with its ritualistic texts, constitutions and monitors, handbooks and memorization aids, commentaries, encyclopedias, works of history and jurisprudence, and the writings of its scholars and philosophers.

Foster Bailey, who was a Masonic lecturer and the National Secretary of the Theosophical Society, made this statement:

There is little that is not known today about the Masonic work, and nothing that cannot be discovered by anyone who diligently seeks it.1

Others have said similar things.

However, hints of a deeper reality—a spiritual interest—cannot be overlooked. Bernard E. Jones’ Freemasons’ Guide and Compendium points to religious underpinnings.2 And Bailey’s book, The Spirit of Masonry, is devoted to the spiritual endeavor pulsing within the Craft. Others have asserted similar connections between religious philosophy and Freemasonry.

This spiritual association is a point of contention within the Lodge itself. Is it essentially religious and spiritual in nature, or is it something else?

Upfront, it must be noted that Masonry does not have an authoritative text to offer clarification in the way many religions and some ideologies do. Using religion as a comparison, Christianity has the Old and New Testament, Judaism the Torah and Talmud, Islam the Quran, and Hinduism builds on the Vedas. But a Masonic scriptural authority does not exist. Grand Lodge constitutions and monitors offer an official look into the workings of the Lodge, including duties and principles and explanations—with references to the “Great Architect of the Universe” and the Bible—but they lack deeper analysis.

Where does the Mason receive knowledge of the Craft’s meaning? Primarily from three sources: Grand Lodge constitutions and monitors, the writings of Masonic philosophers, and the individual’s experiences within the Lodge. Personally gleaning from his own observations and study, the Mason legitimately asserts that every man interprets Freemasonry in his own way.

Herein we have a dilemma: The claims of Freemasonry are many and diverse from within the Brotherhood itself. Regarding spirituality, two conflicting positions are often encountered:

The Craft is only a beneficial and benign society, a place for good deeds and self-improvement. It is a moral society.

Good deeds and moral lessons are part of the experience, but the Craft carries a deeper spiritual meaning and religiously oriented message.

How will we know what the Craft is about if, after hearing opposing sides from the Brotherhood, we discover everything is subjective?

This leads to an observation I’ve made when discussing this religious-spiritual identity problem with Freemasons: Local Masons and the visible voice of the Lodge, public announcements and openly distributed literature, inevitably proclaim the first position—it is a moral and benevolent body with no religious or spiritual meaning.

Conversely, men who have achieved significant stature within the organization, such as a Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council, or who are recognized as noted philosophers or historians within the Craft, are quicker to admit the second position.

Returning to the subjective nature of interpretation, that it rests upon individual observations and study, I was compelled to accept this ruling. I chose, therefore, to interpret the Craft through the second group and not the local Mason whose experience has been narrower. While experience plays an important role in shaping that person’s understanding of the Lodge as an individual, it has little bearing on deciphering the broader meaning and purpose of the Craft.

Manly P. Hall, arguably one of the most important Masonic thinkers of the last century, recognized the divide within Freemasonry:

In fact, there are actually blocs among the brethren who would divorce Masonry from both philosophy and religion at all cost. If, however, we search the writings of eminent Masons, we find a unanimity of viewpoint, namely, that Masonry is a religious and philosophical body.3

To discover the philosophical and spiritual fabric of Freemasonry, we must turn to the voices that have shaped it and who have invested their lives in its application.

—In Their Own Words—

Religious Universalism

Henry C. Clausen, Clausen’s Commentaries on Morals and Dogma (The Supreme Council, 33°, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, USA, 1974)—

[T]he One Supreme God has been known by many names to many races of men. The Sumerians, the Egyptians, the Medes and Persians, the Hebrew Kabalists, the Druids and Norsemen, the Brahmans, the Moslems, the Buddhists and the North American Indians all believed in God as the One Supreme Ruler and Creator of the Universe. This belief, held by the earliest guilds of operative masonry nearly six thousand years ago, is the same belief held by modern Freemasonry today. (p. 161)

Melvin M. Johnson, Universality of Freemasonry (The Masonic Service Association, 1957)—

Masonry is not Christian; nor is it Mohammedan nor Jewish nor to be classified by the name of any other sect. The power which has held it together, the chemical which has caused its growth, the central doctrine which makes it unique, is the opportunity it affords men of every faith, happily to kneel together at the same Altar, each in worship of the God he reveres, under the universal name of Great Architect of the Universe. (Forward)

[Regarding religious universalism] Thus, and thus only, can we furnish to the world at large a common base upon which all civilized mankind may unite. (p. 10)

Joseph Fort Newton, The Builders: A Story and Study of Masonry (The Torch Press, 1914/1916)—

It is true that Masonry is not a religion, but it is Religion, a worship in which all good men may unite, that each may share the faith of all. (p. 250-251)

Albert G. Mackey, A Text Book of Masonic Jurisprudence (Redding and Company, 1859)—

Masonry requires only a belief in the Supreme Architect of the universe. . . . Masons are only expected to be of that religion in which all men agree, leaving their particular opinions to themselves . . . the Christian and the Jew, the Mohammedan and the Brahmin, are permitted to unite around our common altar, and Masonry becomes, in practice as well as in theory, universal. The truth is, that Masonry is undoubtedly a religious institution—its religion being of that universal kind in which all men agree, and which, handed down through a long succession of ages, from that ancient priesthood who first taught it, embraced the great tenets of the existence of God and the immortality of the soul. (pp. 95-96)

Allen E. Roberts, The Craft and Its Symbols: Opening the Door to Masonic Symbolism (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1974)—

Freemasonry calls God “The Great Architect of the Universe.” This is the Freemason’s special name for God, because He is universal. He belongs to all men regardless of their religious persuasion. All wise men acknowledge His authority. In his private devotions a Mason will pray to Jehovah, Mohammed, Allah, Jesus, or the Deity of his choice. In a Masonic Lodge, however, the Mason will find the name of his Deity within the Great Architect of the Universe. (p. 6)

Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (The Supreme Council of the Southern Jurisdiction, A.A.S.R. USA, 1871/1944)—

The Holy Bible, Square, and Compasses, are not only styled the Great Lights of Masonry, but they are also technically called the Furniture of the Lodge . . . The Bible is an indispensable part of the furniture of a Christian Lodge, only because it is the sacred book of the Christian religion. The Hebrew Pentateuch in a Hebrew Lodge, and the Koran in a Mohammedan one, belong on the Altar; and one of these, and the Square and Compass, properly understood, are the Great Lights by which a Mason must walk and work. (p. 11)

Masonry, around whose altars the Christian, the Hebrew, the Moslem, the Brahmin, the followers of Confucius and Zoroaster, can assemble as brethren and unite in prayer to the one God who is above all the Baalim. (p. 226)

[Masonry] reverences all the great reformers. It sees in Moses, the Lawgiver of the Jews, in Confucius and Zoroaster, in Jesus of Nazareth, and in the Arabian Iconoclast, Great Teachers of Morality, and Eminent Reformers, if no more: and allows every brother of the Order to assign to each such higher and even Divine Character as his Creed and Truth require.

Thus Masonry disbelieves no truth, and teaches unbelief in no creed, except so far as such creed may lower its lofty estimate of the Deity. (p. 525)

Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1923/1954). Note: Hall wrote this before becoming a Mason. After joining, Hall ascended to become a recognized authority within the Craft—

No true Mason is 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 . . . No true Mason can be narrow, for his Lodge is the divine expression of all broadness. (p. 65)

Foster Bailey, The Spirit of Freemasonry (Lucis Trust, 1957/1996)—

Is it not possible from a contemplation of this side of Masonic teaching that it may provide all that is necessary for the formulation of a universal religion? May it not be true, as has been said, that if all religions and Scriptures were blotted out and only Masonry were left in the world we could still recover the great plan of salvation? Most earnestly should all true Masons consider the point . . .

The study of this position will reveal to any earnest Mason that if Masonry is ever to achieve this ideal it will be impossible for him to be against any man or any religion. He will be for all true seekers and light, no matter what their race or creed. (p. 109)

Spiritual Applications

Allen E. Roberts, The Craft and Its Symbols: Opening the Door to Masonic Symbolism (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1974)—

[Regarding the Entered Apprentice Degree] You have entered a new world. Symbolically and spiritually you have been reborn. This started the moment you were prepared to become a Freemason. (p. 3)

W.L. Wilmshurst, The Meaning of Masonry (Gramercy Books, 1980)—

The Ceremony of our first degree, then, is a swift and comprehensive portrayal of the entrance of all men into, first, physical life, and second, into spiritual life; and as we extend congratulations when a child is born into the world, so also we receive with acclamation the candidate for Masonry who, symbolically, is seeking his spiritual rebirth. (p. 35)

Henry C. Clausen, Emergence of the Mystical (Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, 1981)—

[S]cience and religion will be welded into a unified exponent of an overriding spiritual power . . . The theme in essence is that the revelations of Eastern mysticism and the discoveries of modern science support the Masonic and Scottish Rite beliefs and teachings. (p. xi)

Science and philosophy, especially when linked through mysticism, have yet to conquer ignorance and superstition. Victory, however, appears on the horizon. Laboratory and library, science and philosophy . . .outstanding technicians and theologians are now uniting as advocates of man’s unique quality, his immortal soul and ever expanding soul.” (p. 92).

Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1923/1954)—

Yet if the so-called secrets of Freemasonry were shouted from the housetops, the Fraternity would be absolutely safe; for certain spiritual qualities are necessary before the real Masonic secrets can be understood by the brethren themselves. (p. 69)

Foster Bailey, The Spirit of Freemasonry (Lucis Trust, 1957/1996)—

Masonry is a quest. Not a material quest, but a spiritual quest, a mystic quest. Not only an individual quest, although as individuals we strive to learn and achieve, but basically a group quest. (p. 122)

George H. Steinmetz, The Royal Arch: Its Hidden Meaning (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1946)—

“Here is the PRINCIPAL SECRET of Royal Arch Masonry, or for that mater, ALL MASONRY. The supreme fact concerning man’s being. That the physical and mental are but passing phases of his evolution toward perfection, that basically and intrinsically he is inherently and OF NECESSITY, if he actually be in the image and likeness of his Creator, ESSENTIALLY A SPIRITUAL BEING!” (p. 73, capitals in original)

The Secret of Human Ascension

W. L. Wilmshurst, The Meaning of Masonry (Gramercy Books, 1980)—

[I]t is clear, therefore, that from grade to grade the candidate is being led from an old to an entirely new quality of life. He begins his Masonic career as the natural man; he ends it by becoming through its discipline, a regenerated perfected man. To attain this transmutation, this metamorphosis of himself, he is taught first to purify and subdue his sensual nature; then to purify and develop his mental nature; and finally, by utter surrender of his old life and losing his soul to save it, he rises from the dead a Master, a just man made perfect. (p. 46)

This—the evolution of man into superman—was always the purpose of the ancient Mysteries, and the real purpose behind modern Masonry is, not the social and charitable purpose to which so much attention is paid, but the expediting of the spiritual evolution of those who aspire to perfect their own nature and transform it into a more god-like quality. And this is a definite science, a royal art. (p. 47)

George H. Steinmetz, The Royal Arch: Its Hidden Meaning (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1946)—

[W]hen the Master of the Lodge has completed his term of office, the square, emblematic of the COMPLETE MAN is taken from him and he is presented the jewel of a Past Master, a compass open to sixty degrees, symbol of the PERFECT MAN. This is placed upon a quadrant to emphasize the thirty degrees which he has progressed from the ninety degree right angle of the square to the sixty degree angle of the equilateral triangle, of which the compasses are but a substitute. It is symbolic of his ‘REBIRTH’ on the spiritual plane. (pp. 54-55, capitals in original)

MAN IS IMPELLED TOWARD PERFECTION! There is that within man—his inner-most divinity—which informs him of the possibility of attaining completeness of being and urges him on to strive for that attainment. (p. 84, capitals in original)

[Regarding the Royal Arch symbolism] Constant, repetitious reminder that man is divine and that the place to seek that divinity is WITHIN HIMSELF! (p. 123, capitals in original)

Foster Bailey, The Spirit of Masonry (Lucis Trust, 1957/1996)—

Masonry, therefore, is not only a system of morality, inculcating the highest ethics through which result, if followed, the conscious unfolding of divinity, but it is also a great dramatic presentation of regeneration. It portrays the recovery of man’s hidden divinity and it bringing forth into the light; it pictures the raising of man from his fallen estate to Heaven, and it demonstrates, through which is enacted in the work of the lodge, the power to achieve perfection latent in every man. (p. 105)

J.D. Buck, Mystic Masonry and the Greater Mysteries of Antiquity (Regan Publishing, 1925)—

It is far more important that men should strive to become Christs than that they should believe that Jesus was Christ. If the Christ-state can be attained by but one human being during the whole evolution of the race, then the evolution of man is a farce and human perfection an impossibility… Jesus is no less Divine because all men may reach the same Divine perfection. (p. 62)

Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1923/1954)—

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, and joins that throng of Master Masons who, in their robes of Blue and Gold, are seeking to dispel the darkness of night with the triple light of the Masonic Lodge. (p. 92)

Wrestling with the issue of Masonry, religion, and spirituality reveals two important points:

It demonstrates that the Lodge and its teachings represent much more than just “making good men better,” and that this statement is a type of window-dressing obscuring the bigger spiritual picture.

The Christian man, that is, the person who holds to the exclusivity of Jesus Christ and His grace and mercy—the gift of salvation by faith and not by works, “that any man should boast”—finds himself in contradiction to the secretive-spiritual teachings of the Craft; that man can attain perfection and obtain divinity through the works (rituals and degrees) of the Lodge.

Perfection in the Lodge

The use of the word “perfection” is found throughout Freemasonry. For example, in the Scottish Rite, the combined degrees of 4 to 14 are called the “Lodge of Perfection,” and Degree 5 is labeled “Perfect Master.”

Henry C. Clausen, the former Sovereign Grand Commander of the Supreme Council (1969-1985), Southern Jurisdiction of the Scottish Rite, provides commentary on the fifth degree. Notice the connection between what we create—the works of our hands and what we do—and the subsequent attainment of immortality and our highest spiritual enlightenment:

The setting and symbolic color for this Degree remind us that while we die in sin we may revive in virtue. We therefore always should act with regard to justice, equity, honesty and integrity and reaffirm our abiding belief in the immortality of the soul. Thus, we symbolically raise the departed from the coffin and place him at the holy altar as a Perfect Master . . . The universe is created continually. As we participate in the process we partake of the Creator—the Divine of God. This participation as co-Creator is itself a form of man’s immortality regardless of whether, as we believe, his spirit survives the body. We exist and create. Being greater than self is man’s true destiny, dignity and grandeur.

Man’s will to believe in something greater than self is the springboard from which we can touch the Divine. Talk with men of faith. Read the books that tell of spiritual achievements. Meditate as you gaze at the stars of the first magnitude. Then you, too, may attain that conclusive spiritual revelation which is the highest human development.4

When the Mason enters the 14th level of the Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, he has attained the degree of the Perfect Elu, or the Grand Elect Perfect and Sublime Mason in the Canadian division. Speaking to this degree, Clausen tells us:

We press on toward the unattainable, yet more nearly approaching perfect truth . . . Our future well-being depends on how we perform in this life.5

Albert Pike, who was Sovereign Grand Commander of the Southern Jurisdiction for 32 years starting in 1859 and had a hand in writing the Scottish Rite rituals, provides some philosophical background to the 14th degree:

[Masonry] is the universal, eternal, immutable religion, such as God planted it in the heart of universal humanity. No creed has ever been long-lived that was not built on this foundation. It is the base, and they are the superstructure . . . The ministers of this religion are all Masons who comprehend it and are devoted to it; its sacrifices to God are good works, the sacrifices of the base and disorderly passions, the offering up of self-interest on the altar of humanity, and perpetual efforts to attain to all the moral perfection of which man is capable.6

Many other instances of perfection crop up in the family of Masonic societies. In the Egyptian Rite, we find the Rite of Perfect Initiates, in the Irish branch, we discover the Perfect Irish Master, and in the Order of Noachites, we find the Perfect Prussian. In Rennes, France, there existed a Lodge of Perfect Union, and in 1754, a Masonic oriented lodge was set up in the College of Jesuits of Clermont, in Paris, known as the Rite of Perfection. In Germany, the degree of Perfection was the last in the now-defunct Rite of Fessler. Moreover, when Adam Weishaupt formed his independent body—known as the Order of Illuminati at Bavaria—it was first called the Perfectionists.7

Today, a number of Masonic lodges have “perfection” in their name. In Calgary, Alberta, you can find Perfection Lodge #9. Perfection Lodge #75 is in New Westminster, British Columbia. Jacksonville, Florida is home to Perfection Lodge #11, and Perfection Lodge can be found in Framingham, Massachusetts.

Going beyond the naming of lodges, Masonic symbolism speaks to something more ubiquitous within the Craft. Here, symbols meant to convey perfection and perfectibility are found across the Masonic landscape. One example is the rough and perfect Ashlar: A stone block which is first unfinished, and then, through the work of Freemasonry, emerges perfect and ready for use. Historian Albert Mackey describes it this way.

The Rough Ashlar, or stone in its rude and unpolished condition, in emblematic of man in his natural state—ignorant, uncultivated, and vicious. But when education has exerted its wholesome influence in expanding his intellect, restraining his passions, and purifying his life, he then is represented by the Perfect Ashlar, which, under the skillful hands of the workmen, has been smoothed, and squared, and fitted for its place in the building.8

The non-Mason is the Rough Ashlar, but once he enters the Lodge and is shaped by the rituals and educated in Masonic philosophy, this individual is made new and perfected in the task of what is called the “Great Work.” Sometimes the ashlar is pictured as a single stone being hewn or chiseled, but more often it’s two stones side-by-side: the rough and the perfect. The Masonic Trestle Board too is symbolic of perfection. Allen E. Roberts tells us in The Craft and Its Symbols:

The Trestle Board, used by the master workman to draw his designs upon, is a symbol of perfection. It is symbolically a spiritual board on which a man should lay out his plans to build his ‘living stones’ into a Temple to the Great Architect of the Universe.9

Other symbols employed in Freemasonry have a meaning of perfection, including the square and compass, the jewel of the York Rite’s Past Master, the Equilateral Triangle, the level and the plumb, the ruler with 24 divisions, and the Lambskin Apron worn by all men of the Lodge. George H. Steinmetz reminds the Masonic traveler:

All the symbology of Freemasonry depicts man’s journey back to his lost perfection is intended to assist him to accelerate his progress by teaching him how to more quickly accomplish his purpose.10

So what is this “perfection” that the Craft speaks so much about? It is the attempt through good works, rituals and obligations, and Masonic education to be spiritually perfected through one’s own striving. This is spiritual alchemy: the attempt to transform one’s spiritual imperfection through the science of mysticism and thus be re-forged as a new and perfected being.

Henry C. Clausen explains:

If you follow the true path of Scottish Rite perfection, with an unshakable faith in a Supreme power, you will go from the darkness of slavery into the dazzling, holy light of freedom.11

Clausen continues:

The Scottish Rite teaches its members how to spell “God” with the right blocks. That truly is the great relevance of Scottish Rite Masonry in the modern world. We teach our initiates there are available for the mind of man vast spiritual forces, vital spiritual powers.

Similarly, we in the Scottish Rite can find in our inner selves a refuge from external distractions and evils, just as peace and quiet are found at the eye of a hurricane. There the sun shines and birds fly. Put your trust in your own inherent capacities.

Buddha attained his own enlightenment and said to his followers: “Be a lamp unto your own feet; do not seek outside yourself.”12

Chalmers I. Paton, in his book Freemasonry: Its Symbolism, Religious Nature and Law of Perfection, tells us that:

Freemasonry itself is symbolic of the highest possible perfection of mankind, and to this its great aim is to contribute; with a view to this object all its teachings are framed.13

J.D. Buck put it this way:

It is far more important that men should strive to become Christs than that they should believe that Jesus was Christ. . . . Jesus is no less Divine because all men may reach the same Divine perfection.14

For the Christian, we know through God’s Word that we are incapable of saving or perfecting ourselves: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Furthermore, Psalm 14 tells us that there is no one who does good, that all mankind is together corrupt, and that all have turned aside from God. Ecclesiastes 7:20 tells us; “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, sinneth not.”

Scripture informs us that we must be perfect, yet that we are incapable of such a lofty goal. In Matthew 5, we find the standard for perfection, Jesus Christ, telling us we too must be perfect, “even as your Father, which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). How is this possible?

Hebrews 10 informs us that Jesus Christ, as both the High Priest and sacrificial Lamb, completed this task of perfecting on our behalf—making us holy before God: “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14).

Consider the wonderful words of Ephesians 2:4-10:

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Also, consider how the apostle Paul relates perfection and Jesus Christ in his letter to the Philippians. Here, Paul recognizes that his Savior is the one who perfects, and that Paul himself must continue the race as a believer, knowing that Christ Jesus is He who completes everything.

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

When we examine the Lodge and explore its mystical quest to achieve perfection, and contrast this to the saving grace of Jesus Christ, we realize that a fork in the road is before us: Either trust Jesus Christ as the one who perfects and finishes or attempt to achieve the impossible—perfect ourselves. For the Mason, he must perfect himself.

The man, therefore, who joins Freemasonry under the pretense that “we make good men better” places himself in a most difficult position where man is ascribed to be God and thereby able to perfect himself through his own efforts. We have, in effect, another gospel that excludes the Cross and leaves man to seek after his own devices. Hence, the souls of all involved may be imperiled by a human method that cannot save.

Conclusion

While this book is just an introduction to the inner spiritual workings of Freemasonry, I believe it provides enough information to show that Scripture runs counter to the ideas of the Lodge and Freemasonry, which seeks mystical perfection through its own works, making it an avenue that delivers the antithesis of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

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Endnotes:
1.Foster Bailey, The Spirit of Masonry (London, UK: Lucis Press, 1957/1996), p. 77.
2. Bernard E. Jones, Freemason’s Guide and Compendium (Cumberland House), p. 282.
3. Manly P. Hall, Lectures on Ancient Philosophy (Philosophical Research Society, 1929/1984), p. 434.
4. Henry C. Clausen, Clausen’s Commentaries on Morals and Dogma (The Supreme Council, 33, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, USA, 1974), pp. 24-26. Note: page 25 is a full-page color picture, thus the text flows from pages 24 to 26.
5. Ibid., p. 71.
6. Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry (The Supreme Council, 33, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, USA, 1871/1944), p. 219.
7. For the list of “perfect” rites and lodges, see Albert G. Mackey, An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Volume II (The Masonic History Company, 1925), pp. 554-555.
8. Albert Mackey, An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, Volume I, p. 81.
9. Allen E. Roberts, The Craft and Its Symbols: Opening the Door to Masonic Symbols (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1974), p. 35.
10. George H. Steinmetz, The Royal Arch: Its Hidden Meaning (Macoy Publishing and Masonic Supply Company, 1946), p. 53.
11. Henry C. Clausen, Emergence of the Mystical (The Supreme Council, 33, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite of Freemasonry, Southern Jurisdiction, USA, 1981), p. 82.
12. Ibid., pp. 76-77.
13. Chalmers I. Paton, Freemasonry: Its Symbolism, Religious Nature and Law of Perfection (Reeves and Turner, 1873), p. 1.
14. J.D. Buck, Mystic Masonry and the Greater Mysteries of Antiquity (Regan Publishing, 1925), p. 62.

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NEW BOOKLET: Earth Day and a Total Transformation for a Post-Christian World

NEW BOOKLET TRACT:  Earth Day and a Total Transformation for a Post-Christian World by Carl Teichrib 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 Earth Day and a Total Transformation for a Post-Christian World, click here.

 Earth Day and a Total Transformation for a Post-Christian World

rp_bkt-ct-earth-lg.jpgBy Carl Teichrib

More than 6 million Canadians join 500 million people in over 180 countries in staging events and projects to address local environmental issues. Nearly every school child in Canada takes part in an Earth Day activity.1—Earth Day Canada

Earth is more than just a spaceship. She is our Mother. She gave us life. There is nowhere else to go but to stay and love her.2—Reader’s comment regarding John Kerry’s Earth Day blog

Just as in olden days, the earth has become the focal point for worship. In Grecian times, the supreme Earth deity was Gaia, also known as the Universal Mother. Sacred oaths were given in her name, and worshippers performed rituals in her honor.3 One commentator tells us:

The classic artistic representation of Gaia is a woman emerging breast-high from the earth. The goddess arises but never leaves her planetary body. Visceral rites, including plant, animal, and (presumably ecstatic) human sacrifice as well as unabashed sexual ceremonies were held to adore the goddess’s fecundity.4

In our contemporary era, Earth Day has become the modern celebration of Gaia. Partakers of this event, whether aware of it or not, play off the ancient pagan beliefs of a Universal Mother. Like the sacred oaths taken in her name, today’s Earth Day celebrants sign environmental petitions, make pledges, and announce resolutions in support of Mother Earth. And like the old sacrifices to the deity, today’s Earth Day practitioners offer sacrifices of “good works” to the planet. Not only is the earth a deity to be venerated, but the earth itself—as the representative and embodiment of the goddess—has become a modern-day idol.

Do all who engage in Earth Day festivities realize the connections between this event and the ancient pagan deity? Some do, especially those who take a neo-pagan position; but many are unaware, thinking it’s a family-oriented way to engage in environmental conservation. Much good is done during Earth Day, such as cleaning up stream beds or planting trees—but that’s not the issue. Motivated by good intentions, scores of individuals (including professing Christians) participate without ever considering what Earth Day is actually about or the philosophies that underpin the movement.

James Coburn, the American actor (deceased in 2002), understood the overt pagan linkages. Consider his 1990 interview with journalist Caryl Matrisciana during the Malibu Beach Earth Day festival:

Caryl Matrisciana: “Mr. Coburn, why should we care about Earth Day or Mother Earth?”

James Coburn: “Mother Earth is our Mother! She’s the Mother Goddess. She’s the one that we should be praising rather than raping. I mean all of these people here today are here for one reason: Because they’re concerned about what’s happening to the earth—what mankind is doing to the earth. I mean the negative emotions we carry around, a lot of us, is another contributor to it; it feeds the Moon. [Author’s Note: the Moon is significant in pagan circles.]

“What we have to do is be true to ourselves. If we’re true to ourselves we’ll be true to Mother Earth. Mother Earth’s going to be bountiful; she’s going to give us everything we need. She has for a long time.

“We’ve lost our way. The pagans used to know how to do it. And the Indians, some of them still remember how to do it.
“The Earth is a living organism. We’re killing the one we love the most, and she loves us. We’ve got to praise our Mother Goddess!”5

When Earth Day was first inaugurated in 1970, Newsweek called the event “a bizarre nationwide rain dance.”6 The New York Times, however, said it was an idea “whose time has come because life is running out.” Earth, and the race of mankind, needed to be saved “from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”7

Now, decades later, corporate sponsorships pay for community Earth Day events. Federal and local governments spend tax dollars in promotion of April 22nd, and a myriad of grassroots organizations add energy to the cause. It’s an event that captures the attention of local and national media outlets, politicians of every stripe, and fuels the imagination of school children everywhere. From the automotive giant Toyota8 to every urban center in North America, from the United Nations to the National Council of Churches9—Earth Day is far more than a bizarre rain dance; it’s a platform for global citizenship and Earth loyalties.

Earth Day is Born
The idea for Earth Day goes back to 1962 and Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin. Convinced that environmental issues needed greater exposure, Nelson suggested to President Kennedy that he embark on a “national conservation tour.” The following year, Kennedy went on a five-day excursion promoting environmental conservation, but it never generated the political interest Nelson was hoping for. However, according to the Senator, “it was the germ of the idea that ultimately flowered into Earth Day.”10

Only a few years later, during the height of the anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, Senator Nelson hit on the idea of a national educational event to create environmental awareness—the “first national environmental teach-in.” This event, planned for April 22, 1970, was to be styled after the war protest movement, and it was aimed at capturing the interest and energy of young people—a generation going through one of the largest cultural shifts in the history of the United States. Not surprisingly, Nelson’s first Earth Day speech reflected this cultural shift, boasting that April 22 was to be the “birth date of a new American ethic that rejects the frontier philosophy that the continent was put here for our plunder . . .”11

Decades after the initial event, Nelson’s assistant who coordinated the Earth Day national teach-in campaign, Denis Hayes, told an interviewer that: “We consciously set out to build a movement to bring America back together, and let everyone under the umbrella with a shared set of values.”12

New ethics and a common set of values were to guide this movement and act as the inspiration for college students in their environmental advocacy. Remember, this was 1970, and the students of that era represent a wide swath of today’s political, business, academic, and religious leadership. Senator Nelson understood the potential power of tapping the nation’s youth.

Helping to make this inaugural Earth Day a success, a special book of essays was compiled through Friends of the Earth and distributed nationwide to teachers and professors. Titled, The Environmental Handbook: Prepared for the First National Environmental Teach-In, April 22, 1970, this volume introduced a new set of social ideals that would point America to a better world. Tens of thousands of copies were distributed, and twenty million young people across the U.S. celebrated what was to become a global movement: Earth Day.

But what of those values laid out in The Environmental Handbook? Were they based on the core Judeo-Christian tenets of Western thought and law? Did they support common sense conservation: erosion control, maintaining a balanced wildlife population, curbing toxic pollutants, or stemming the tide of invasive species?

Pollution was addressed, with a population control twist. Land use was also discussed, while demeaning “conventional cattle ranching.”

Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, contributed the following doomsday scenario to ignite impressionable minds: By 1973, air pollution would be choking cities, causing single-event smog disasters with death tolls in the hundreds of thousands—all heralding the advent of a global air-quality collapse that would make the “planet uninhabitable” sometime before 1990. By the mid-seventies, the U.S. grain belt would be turning into the great Mid-western desert, wiping out food stocks. During this time period, Ehrlich speculated, America’s resource sector would be collapsing, and a national “family planning” program would have to be set up alongside an international agenda to curb the human population. By the summer of 1979, the world’s oceans would be dead and all sea-based animal life extinct.13

For high-school and college students participating in the first Earth Day, this future-tense story would have had a chilling effect. As Mr. Ehrlich explained, “A pretty grim scenario. Unfortunately, we’re a long way into it already.”14

Does any of this sound familiar? “Warming may trigger agricultural collapse,” so reported the Inter-Press Service in 2007.15 “Fish stocks could collapse because of global warming,” announced an Associated Press article in 2008.16 Professor John Brignell, an author and social researcher, posted his observations regarding climate change and fear:

Got a problem? Blame global warming! From allergies to maple syrup shortages to yellow fever: apparently every contemporary ill is caused by climate change.17

Brignell’s website lists no less than 300 alleged problems, or pseudo-problems, attributed to global warming. This documented list includes crabgrass, kidney stones, inflation in China, invasions of jellyfish and giant oysters, the Loch Ness monster dying, fish getting lost, an upcoming Ice Age, conflict with Russia, sour grapes and stronger wine, farms going under, (and farm output boosted), the Atlantic becoming more salty, (and less salty), smog, terrorism, fainting, and smaller brains. The way so many are acting these days, I tend to believe this last one.

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Is this a scare tactic for global transformation? Consider the following quotes:

During any “issue-attention-cycle” in environmental campaigning, there is a phase in which the issue needs to be strategically exaggerated in order to establish it firmly on an agenda for action.18—International Institute for Sustainable Development

We have to offer up scary scenarios, make simplified, dramatic statements, and make little mention of any doubts we may have.19—Professor Stephen Schneider

No matter if the science is all phony, there are collateral environmental benefits . . . climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world.20—Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of Environment

“Collateral environmental benefits . . . ?” This is questionable at best; so much so that over 31,000 scientists have signed a petition that challenged the human-caused global warming line and openly suggested that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide may have benefits.21 Moreover, “justice” and “equality” are legal and social issues—not atmospheric. Again, this points to the heart of the matter: social transformation.

But scare tactics are effective. They leave the masses wondering: How can the human race reverse our imminent environmental demise? What can be done to save Mother Earth?

According to the first Earth Day and The Environmental Handbook, we can start by placing the blame on Christianity and Western values, and then adopt pagan and radical socialist solutions. Consider the following quotes from The Environmental Handbook. Keep in mind that this text established the ethical ideals of a new Earth reality and set the tone for the first Earth Day and subsequent celebrations.

On Religion:

Christianity, in absolute contrast to ancient paganism and Asia’s religions . . . not only established a dualism of man and nature but also insisted that it is God’s will that man exploit nature for his proper ends.
At the level of the common people this worked out in an interesting way. In antiquity every tree, every spring, every stream, every hill had its own genius loci, its guardian spirit. These spirits were accessible to men . . . Before one cut a tree, mined a mountain, or dammed a brook, it was important to placate the spirit in charge of that particular situation, and to keep it placated. By destroying pagan animism, Christianity made it possible to exploit nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects. (p.20-21, Lynn White Jr.)

What we do about ecology depends on our ideas of the man-nature relationship. More science and more technology are not going to get us out of our present ecological crisis until we find a new religion, or rethink our old one. (p.24, Lynn White Jr.)

No new set of basic values has been accepted in our society to displace those of Christianity. Hence we shall continue to have a worsening ecologic crisis until we reject the Christian axiom that nature has no reason for existence save to serve man. (p.25, Lynn White Jr.)

Both our present science and our present technology are so tinctured with orthodox Christian arrogance toward nature that no solution for our ecologic crisis can be expected from them alone. Since the roots of our trouble are so largely religious, the remedy must also be essentially religious, whether we call it that or not. (p.26, Lynn White Jr.)

What was it that enabled Eskimo shamen, their minds a product of the taiga, tundra, and sea ice, to travel on spirit journeys under the ocean and to talk with the fishes and the potent beings who lived on the bottom? How did the shamen develop the hypnotic power they employed in their séances? What can we learn from the shamen who survive about thought transference and ESP? The answers are in the arctic wilderness still left to us.

Wilderness is a bench mark, a touchstone. . . . New perspectives come out of the wilderness. Jesus, Zoroaster, Moses, and Mohammed went to the wilderness and came back with messages. . . . This handbook, and the teach-in it serves, have their beginnings in wilderness. (p. 148, Kenneth Brower)

On Population:

Freedom to breed is intolerable. (p.41, Garrett Hardin)

No technical solution can rescue us from the misery of overpopulation. Freedom to breed will bring ruin to all. . . . The only way we can preserve and nuture other and more precious freedoms is by relinquishing the freedom to breed. (p.49, Garrett Hardin)

[I]t is sinful for anybody to have more than two children. It has long since become glaringly evident that unless the earth’s cancerous growth of population can be halted, all other problems—poverty, war, racial strife, uninhabitable cities, and the rest—are beyond solution. (p.139, John Fischer)

Stabilizing the U.S. population should be declared a national policy. Immediate steps should be taken to: 1. Legalize voluntary abortion and sterilization and provide these services free. 2. Remove all restrictions on the provision of birth control information and devices; provide these services free to all, including minors. 3. Make sex education available to all appropriate levels, stressing birth control practices and the need to stabilize the population. (pp.317-318, Keith Murray)

Explore other social structures and marriage forms, such as group marriage and polyandrous marriage, which provide family life but may produce less children. Share the pleasure of raising children widely, so that all need not directly reproduce to enter into this basic human experience. We must hope that no one woman would give birth to more than one child. (p.324, Four Changes section)

On Nations and Economies:

Nations . . . must be phased out as quickly as possible and replaced with tribal or regional autonomous economies. (p.6, Keith Lampe)

Interdependence of course can be sustained only in a context of cooperation, so competition (capitalism) must be phased out and replaced with cooperative economic models. (pp.6-7, Keith Lampe)

Looking beyond our borders, our students will be encouraged to ask even harder questions. Are nation-states actually feasible, now that they have the power to destroy each other in a single afternoon? Can we agree on something else to take their place, before the balance of terror becomes unstable? What price would most people be willing to pay for a more durable kind of human organization—more taxes, giving up national flags, perhaps the sacrifice of some of our hard-won liberties? (p. 145, John Fisher)

On Global Transformation:

Nothing short of total transformation will do much good. What we envision is a planet on which the human population lives harmoniously and dynamically by employing a sophisticated and unobtrusive technology in a world environment which is “left natural” . . . Cultural and individual pluralism, unified by a type of world tribal council. (p.330, Four Changes section)

It seems evident that there are throughout the world certain social and religious forces which have worked through history toward an ecologically and culturally enlightened state of affairs. Let these be encouraged: Gnostics, hip Marxists, Teilhard de Chardin Catholics, Druids, Taoists, Biologists, Witches, Yogins, Bhikkus, Quakers, Sufis, Tibetans, Zens, Shamans, Bushmen, American Indians, Polynesians, Anarchists, Alchemists . . . the list is long. All primitive cultures, all communal and ashram movements. Since it doesn’t seem practical or even desirable to think that direct bloody force will achieve much, it would be best to consider this a continuing “revolution of consciousness” which will be won not by guns but by seizing the key images, myths, archetypes, eschatologies, and ectasies [sic] so that life won’t seem worth living unless one’s on the transforming energy’s side. (p.331, Four Changes)

The message is clear. In order to save the world, we need to drastically change our present religious, political, economic, and social structures. We need to significantly re-shape society towards a New Age world-view where nature supersedes all, where political and economic structures morph into a type of ecological communism, where the cancer of human growth undergoes radical surgery, and where education and religion are indelibly altered to serve Mother Earth.

This is the essence of Earth Day. It’s the embracing of massive religious and social changes—the sacrifice of our “orthodox Christian arrogance” so that Gaia can be healed and humanity saved. It’s the clarion call of One World. Gaia Rescue, a project of Earth Day 2008, brings this into focus:

To correct this problem we’re going to have to act as a planet, not separately as groups or countries. It will take all of Gaia’s children to save her from the mistakes we’ve already made.22

Gaia is Mad!
If we don’t correct our mistakes, if we don’t change our values, behaviors, ethics, and beliefs—Mother Earth is going to take matters into her own hands. This is the current eco-philosophy fad. Human beings are a blight, and Gaia is going to cleanse herself unless we become good global citizens and respect the Universal Mother.

This is the message of the Dalai Lama:

Until now . . . Mother Earth has somehow tolerated sloppy house habits. But now human use, population, and technology have reached that certain stage where Mother Earth no longer accepts our presence with silence. In many ways she is now telling us, “My children are behaving badly.” She is warning us that there are limits to our actions.23

Meanwhile, movies such as The Happening depict Mother Earth striking back against Mankind—chemically inducing humans to commit suicide in order to clean up the people problem. Another Hollywood propaganda piece, The Day the Earth Stood Still, has watchful aliens descending on the planet to save failing Mother Earth from the cancer of humanity. During the last part of the movie, the main characters come to the realization that they must evolve at the global level in order to avert planetary disaster. Many other movies, documentaries, and television shows present a similar message. Man must change, or Gaia will deal harshly with us.

This is also the prognosis of British geophysicist James Lovelock, who wrote the 1979 book Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth. This volume spurred on the “modern,” pseudo-scientific Gaia theory of Earth as a living construct. More recently, his 2006 book The Revenge of Gaia, paints a picture of a planet suffering from a crippling fever—Global Warming—and that Mother Earth is fighting for her existence against the destructive capacity of humankind.

Not surprisingly, this line of thinking is found laced throughout the online deep ecology and Gaia community. Blog and on-line articles proclaim that Mother Earth is growing madder by the minute.

The reasons why there are so many natural disasters and severe weather changes, is because Mother Earth is angry with the people.24

The earth is parched. There is not enough water. Fires will rage. Some things are beyond the control of humans. Mother earth is angry, showing us the limits to our power. Let us learn from her.25

Hmmm . . . Maybe a little party would make her happy.

A Secular Holiday?
Ironically, Earth Day is considered “the largest secular holiday in the world.”26 Yet there is little secular about it. Rather, a variety of spiritual activities take place; from Mother Earth rituals to multi-faith sunrise services, from interfaith Earth gatherings to spring meditations and “Earth Prayers” such as the one suggested here:

Mother, Father, God, Universal Power
Remind us daily of the sanctity of all life.
Touch our hearts with the glorious oneness of all creation
As we strive to respect all the living beings on this planet.
Penetrate our souls with the beauty of this earth,
As we attune ourselves to the rhythm and flow of the seasons.
Awaken our minds with the knowledge
To achieve a world in perfect harmony
And grant us the wisdom to realize
That we can have heaven on earth.27

Unfortunately, many Christian congregations across North America have jumped on the bandwagon of Earth Day transformation—some out of naivety, others with full consent and complicity. One example is San Francisco’s Grace Cathedral. During the 2001 Earth Day, Grace held an interfaith song-celebration for the planet:

The music will be an eclectic blend of the world’s musical traditions. Tibetan temple bells will blend with the Cathedral Organ. Vocal performances will range from Native American and Muslim Chants to Spirituals and Choral canticles. Representatives from a diverse range of religious paths will participate in the festivities, including Native American, Islamic, Hindu, Jewish, Pagan, and Christian.28

Over the years, Grace Cathedral has been a beacon for comprehensive religious transformation, and has done much to promote a contemporary global-spiritual model, such as helping to birth the United Religions Initiative.

The United Church of Canada is another example. During the last twenty years, the United Church denomination has been considered a Canadian trend-setter in “progressively left” Christian thought. This denomination has also been viewed as a social pillar by academics, political figures, and other leading personalities. Here’s part of a responsive reading for an Earth-centered worship service:

Speaking to the Earth Community, we say: Brothers and Sisters in Creation, we covenant this day with you, with all Creation yet to be, and with the Creator. With every living creature and all that contains and sustains you.

All: With all that is on Earth and with the Earth itself.29

Alarmingly, it doesn’t seem to matter if a church is “right” or “left” in its general outlook. Congregations and denominations that have been historically conservative are focusing on the earth as a point of service too.

In February 2009, I had a chance to visit with some relatives who attend an evangelical church long recognized for its stalwart stand in proclaiming the Gospel. But things have changed. Instead of messages focusing on the truths of God’s Word, sermons have taken an overt ecological edge. Although not promoting Earth-centric beliefs like the United Church—“we covenant this day . . . with the Earth itself”—the teachings highlighted typical environmental themes: Global Warming, the eco-problems supposedly caused by man, and the need to change consumption patterns and social behaviours. Does this remind you of anything?

Like hundreds of other pastors and churches across North America, naivety to the true intent of deep ecology and its message of global transformation is undercutting Christian-based values right in the church itself.

Does this mean that Christians shouldn’t be concerned about the environment? Not at all. However, a healthy biblical approach is needed—one that recognizes the rightful place of man in tending, managing, and using the earth, not one in which man is servant to a planetary master made in the image of the United Nations or some other globally inspired environmental agency. Sadly, pastors and congregations around the world are parroting the message of Earth Day and the leaders of global environmental governance.

The quest to involve the Christian community in Earth Day celebrations is especially significant. Not only do individual churches promote Earth Day as a special event, the Earth Day Network (EDN) specifically targets the “faith community” in the hopes that influential religious leaders will move the global agenda forward. And EDN has some clout.

The Earth Day Network is a group that arose from the original Earth Day in 1970. Today, the organization’s International Council is comprised of some of the world’s most influential globalists:

Lester Brown, Worldwatch.
Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director of the World Health Organization. Robert Kennedy Jr., Senior Attorney, Natural Resources Defence Council.
Gus Speth, former UN Development Programme official.
Maurice Strong, President of the Earth Council and former UN Special Advisor.
David Suzuki, Canada’s leading environmentalist.
Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the UN Environmental Programme.30

Presently, EDN works hard to promote their Communities of Faith Climate Campaign, a Global Warming/Earth Day educational platform targeting religious groups. In fact, the EDN faith-based website has the motto “Earth Day: Something We Can All Believe In.”31

In 2007, EDN reached out to the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities by creating “12,000 sermons and religious events” to empower religious leaders for Earth Day goals. EDN took this a step further during Earth Day 2008 by activating “500,000 parishioners” to support climate change legislation. Many churches also pledged to join EDN for “Earth Day Sunday” in 2008, focusing on climate change and saving the earth during their Sunday services.32

In 2009, the Earth Day Network kicked off their Green Generation campaign, which engaged students, churches, and communities in pressuring the world to adopt a new global climate treaty. Moreover, this campaign continued until 2010 with the 40th anniversary of Earth Day.

Paradoxically, what originally started as a movement to intentionally place Earth on a pedestal while demonizing Christianity, nationalism, and human populations—all focused on driving America’s youth to a pagan, socialist utopia—has now been embraced by churches far-and-wide. Furthermore, by hosting and supporting Earth-centered and interfaith services, churches actually contribute to the systemic attack on biblical values.

Gaia must be smiling—after all, the party is in her honor.

To order copies of Earth Day and a Total Transformation for a Post-Christian World, click here.

Endnotes

1. Earth Day Canada FAQ, www.earthday.ca/pub/resources/faqs.php. Economic support for the Earth Day Canada organization comes from a wide array of sponsors, such as Environment Canada (government), The Discovery Channel, Panasonic Canada, Sony, and a host of other groups, including Canada’s largest banking institutions.
2. John Kerry’s blog site and responses, http://blog.johnkerry.com/2007/04/please_take_care_of_spaceship.html.
3. Books consulted on Gaia include: The Life of Greece by Will Durant; Occidental Mythology: The Masks of God by Joseph Campbell; Magick of the Gods and Goddesses by D.J. Conway; Mysteries of the Dark Moon by Demetra George (an overview of the Goddess cultus from the perspective of the dark Goddess—this book, like Magick of the Gods and Goddesses, is a pagan work); The Gods who Walk Among Us by Thomas R. Horn and Donald C. Jones (parallels ancient religions to modern paganismwritten from a Christian perspective); Goddess Earth by Samantha Smith (a Christian exposé of the goddess/environmental movement); Occult Invasion by Dave Hunt (a Christian exposé on occultism, including the Gaia movement). I also consulted a host of websites on Grecian mythology, goddess worship, and the Gaia movement, along with works on the Gaia hypothesis such as Gaia by James Lovelock (this is the book that kick started the “scientific” Gaia hypothesis of a Living Earth); Gaia: The Growth of an Idea by Lawrence E. Joseph (on the history of Gaia and the Gaia hypothesis); and Saviors of the Earth by Michael S. Coffman (Christian exposé of the environmental movement, with material on the Gaia concept).
4. Lawrence E. Joseph, Gaia: The Growth of an Idea (St. Martin’s Press, 1990), p.226.
5. This interview is part of the documentary, Earth’s Two-Minute Warning, narrated by Caryl Matrisciana of Caryl Productions.
6. See Bill Christofferson’s book, The Man from Clear Lake: Earth Day Founder Senator Gaylord Nelson (University of Wisconsin Press, 2004), p. 6.
7. Ibid., p. 6.
8. For more on the Toyota, Canada, Earth Day program, go to http://www.earthday.ca/scholarship.
9. http://www.ncccusa.org/news/080422earthday.html.
10. Senator Gaylord Nelson, “How the First Earth Day Came About” (EnviroLink, http://earthday.envirolink.org/history.html).
11. Bill Christofferson, The Man from Clear Lake, op. cit., p. 7.
12. Ibid., p. 305.
13. See Paul R. Ehrlich’s essay, “Eco-Catastrophe!,” The Environmental Handbook: Prepared for the First National Environmental Teach-In (Ballantine/Friends of the Earth, 1970, edited by Garrett de Bell), pp. 161-176.
14. Ibid., p. 174.
15. Abid Aslam, “Environment: Warming May Trigger Agricultural Collapse”(IPS, September 12, 2007).
16. “UN Report says fish stocks could collapse because of global warming, pollution” (Associated Press, February 22, 2008).
17. Professor John Brignell’s website is http://www.numberwatch.co.uk.
18. Empowerment for Sustainable Development: Toward Operational Strategies (International Institute for Sustainable Development, 1995), p. 51.
19. Stephen Schneider, Professor of Biology and Global Change, Stanford University (as printed in Trashing the Planet by Dixie Lee Ray, p. 167).
20. Christine Stewart, former Canadian Minister of the Environment, Calgary Herald, December 14, 1998.
21. The documentary, Global Warming or Global Governance, provides some very compelling evidence regarding carbon dioxide benefits. See also, the Petition Project (www.petitionproject.org) for the names of over 31,000  scientists.
22. Gaia Rescue, http://web.archive.org/web/20090321153732/http://gaiarescue.com.
23. Dalai Lama, as printed in Only One Earth (United Nations Environmental Programme, 2000), p. 61.
24. http://rainbowmotherearth.ning.com (this website no longer active).
25. http://bluebanshee.wordpress.com/2008/07/28/earth-fire-and-water.
26. EcoSmart, “The Origins of Earth Day” (Earth Love Movement, April 14, 2008, http://www.articlesbase.com/environment-articles/the-origins-of-earth-day-386630.html).
27. Jo Poore, Earth Prayer (to be used on Earth Day) (Celebrations of Spring, Electronic Newsletter, April 15, 2004, http://web.archive.org/web/20061111094434/http://www.faith-commongood.net/news/letter.asp?ID=1).
28. Grace Cathedral news release, “A Song of Creation: An Interfaith Earth Day Celebration at Grace Cathedral, San Francisco” (http://web.archive.org/web/20061124225152/http://www.ewire.com/display.cfm/Wire_ID/175).
29. United Church of Canada, Enough for All Worship Resource, p. 10.
30. EDN International Council, http://web.archive.org/web/20080821123152/http://earthday.net/node/64.
31. Earth Day Network, Earth Day: Something We Can All Believe In, http://web.archive.org/web/20080820193215/http://www.earthday.net/node/73.
32. Ibid.

To order copies of Earth Day and a Total Transformation for a Post-Christian World, click here.

Cover photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission. Cover design and interior design by Lighthouse Trails. Scripture verses in this booklet are taken from the King James Bible.

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.

Notes:
1. Manly P. Hall, Lectures on Ancient Philosophy (Philosophical Research Society, 1984), p. 357. Hall was one of the 20th century’s most celebrated esoteric philosophers, founder of the Philosophical Research Society, eminent Freemason, and a respected lecturer on occult doctrines and the Mystery Religions.
2. Roberta H. Lamerson, F.R.C. “Initiation” (Rosicrucian Digest, November, 1984), p. 21.
3. Kevin and Ana Draper, Steve Collins, and Jonny Baker, “Labyrinths and Mazes” (http://www.labyrinth.org.uk/historypage1.html). Website promoting labyrinths as an alternative Christian experience.
4. The Toronto lodge of the AMORC Rosicrucian order hosted a labyrinth journey the first Sunday of every other month (September, November, 2005; January, March, 2006). Location: Rosicrucian Regional Cultural Centre, 835 Broadview Ave, Toronto, ON.
5. See the Pagan Spirit Gathering website at https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/circle-magazine/sample-articles/solstice-fires-of-the-pagan-spirit-gathering. Another example is the Breemie Labyrinth Mid-Summer Festival at http://www.sacredway.co.uk/Breemie%20main/mhaydenlabs.htm.
6. See https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/pagan-spirit-gathering/rituals-and-celebrations.html.
7. Joseph Campbell, Occidental Mythology: The Masks of God (Arkana, 1991), p. 20. See also The Dictionary of World Myth (Facts on File, 1995), p.135. Other ancient labyrinth myths and stories exist that are rooted in Egyptian and various other Mesopotamian locations.
8. Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols (Penguin Books, 1996), pp. 643-644.
9. Jack Tresidder, Dictionary of Symbols (Chronicle Books, 1997), pp. 117-118.
10. The Labyrinth Society, http://www.labyrinthsociety.org.
11. See footnote 5.
12. Kathy Doore, “Myth and History of Labyrinths”(“Official Blog of Kathy Doore,” http://www.labyrinthina.com/path.htm).
13. Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages (Philosophic Research Society, 1989).
14. C.W. Leadbeater, Ancient Mystic Rites (Quest Books, 1986), p. 51.
15. Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (Macoy, 1951), p. 92.
16. Christian Bernard, So Mote It Be! (AMORC, 1995), pp. 87-88.
17. Annie Besant, Esoteric Christianity (Quest Books, 1966), p. 220.
18. Robert Macoy, A Dictionary of Freemasonry (Gramercy), p. 215.
19. Historians and occult philosophers who assert this link between the Mystery Religions and today’s esoteric societies include Manly P. Hall, Foster Bailey, Albert Pike, C.W. Leadbeater, Israel Regardie, Papus, A.E. Waite, Eliphas Levi, J.D. Buck, Albert Mackey, H.P. Blavatsky, Henry C. Clausen, George H. Steinmetz, Joseph Fort Newton, and many others.
20. See Look to the East: A Ritual of the First Three Degrees of Masonry. See also Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor and Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma.
21. Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 252 and Foster Bailey, The Spirit of Masonry, p. 108.
22. See Israel Regardie’s The Golden Dawn and What You Should Know About the Golden Dawn.
23. Rosicrucian Initiation, Temple Section, Second Portal, AMORC.
24. See Beulah H. Malone, Let There Be Light; see also Robert Macoy, Adoptive Rite Ritual; Ritual of the Order of the Eastern Star, published by the authority of the General Grand Chapter Order of the Eastern Star.
25. Beulah H. Malone, Let There Be Light (Masonic Home Print Shop,1958), p. 97.
26. Jill Kimberly Hartwell Geoffrion, Christian Uses of Labyrinths (http://library.stkate.edu/pdf/trw%20lab-christian%20uses.pdf).
27. Jill Geoffrion, Dedication of Deep Haven Labyrinth (article no longer available online).
28. Jill Geoffrion, “Prayers from Varying Traditions to Use at a Labyrinth”  (http://web.archive.org/web/20101229071645/http://www.jillgeoffrion.com/prayers4labusedifreltrad.html). I give Geoffrion sarcasm credit; she includes a short prayer from the American Secular Tradition—“whatever!”
29. Grace Cathedral, Walking the Labyrinth .
30. Grace Cathedral labyrinth homepage: http://www.gracecathedral.org/labyrinth.
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” (http://healing.about.com/od/labyrinthspiritual/a/firelabyrinth.htm).
36. Paul Clasper, Eastern Paths and the Christian Way (Orbis Books, 1980), p.108.

To order copies of The Labyrinth Journey click here.

For more information on labyrinths, visit  www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/labyrinth.htm.  Also visit the author’s website, Forcing Change Ministries, at www.forcingchange.org.

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


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