Posts Tagged ‘eastern meditation’
By Ray Yungen
Catholic priest William Shannon in his book, Seeds of Peace, explained the human dilemma as being the following:
This forgetfulness, of our oneness with God, is not just a personal experience, it is the corporate experience of humanity. Indeed, this is one way to understanding original sin. We are in God, but we don’t seem to know it. We are in paradise, but we don’t realize it.1
Shannon’s viewpoint defines the basic underlying worldview of the contemplative prayer movement as a whole. One can find similar quotations in practically every book written by contemplative authors. A Hindu guru or a Zen Buddhist master would offer the same explanation. This conclusion becomes completely logical when tracing the roots of contemplative prayer. Let us look at the beginnings of this practice.
In the early Middle Ages, there lived a group of hermits in the wilderness areas of the Middle East. They are known to history as the Desert Fathers. They dwelt in small isolated communities for the purpose of devoting their lives completely to God without distraction. The contemplative movement traces its roots back to these monks who promoted the mantra as a prayer tool. One meditation scholar made this connection when he said:
The meditation practices and rules for living of these earliest Christian monks bear strong similarity to those of their Hindu and Buddhist renunciate brethren several kingdoms to the East … the meditative techniques they adopted for finding their God suggest either a borrowing from the East or a spontaneous rediscovery.2
Many of the Desert Fathers, in their zeal, were simply seeking God through trial and error. A leading contemplative prayer teacher candidly acknowledged the haphazard way the Desert Fathers acquired their practices:
It was a time of great experimentation with spiritual methods. Many different kinds of disciplines were tried, some of which are too harsh or extreme for people today. Many different methods of prayer were created and explored by them.3
Attempting to reach God through occult mystical practices will guarantee disaster. The Desert Fathers of Egypt were located in a particularly dangerous locale at that time to be groping around for innovative approaches to God, because as one theologian pointed out:
[D]evelopment of Christian meditative disciplines should have begun in Egypt because much of the intellectual, philosophical, and theological basis of the practice of meditation in Christianity also comes out of the theology of Hellenic and Roman Egypt. This is significant because it was in Alexandria that Christian theology had the most contact with the various Gnostic speculations which, according to many scholars, have their roots in the East, possibly in India.4
Consequently, the Desert Fathers believed as long as the desire for God was sincere–anything could be utilized to reach God. If a method worked for the Hindus to reach their gods, then Christian mantras could be used to reach Jesus. A current practitioner and promoter of the Desert Fathers’ mystical prayer still echoes the logical formulations of his mystical ancestors:
In the wider ecumenism of the Spirit being opened for us today, we need to humbly accept the learnings of particular Eastern religions … What makes a particular practice Christian is not its source, but its intent … this is important to remember in the face of those Christians who would try to impoverish our spiritual resources by too narrowly defining them. If we view the human family as one in God’s spirit, then this historical cross-fertilization is not surprising … selective attention to Eastern spiritual practices can be of great assistance to a fully embodied Christian life.5
Do you catch the reasoning here? Non-Christian sources, as avenues to spiritual growth, are perfectly legitimate in the Christian life, and if Christians only practice their Christianity based on the Bible, they will actually impoverish their spirituality. This was the thinking of the Desert Fathers. So as a result, we now have contemplative prayer. Jesus addressed this when he warned His disciples: “And when you pray, do not
use vain repetitions, as the heathen do.” (Matthew 6:7)
It should be apparent that mantra meditation or sacred word prayer qualifies as “vain repetition” and clearly fits an accurate description of the point Jesus was making. Yet in spite of this, trusted evangelical Christians have often pronounced that Christian mysticism is different from other forms of mysticism (such as Eastern or occult) because it is focused on Jesus Christ.
This logic may sound credible on the surface, but Christians must ask themselves a very simple and fundamental question: What really makes a practice Christian? The answer is obvious–does the New Testament sanction it? Hasn’t Christ taught us, through His Word, to pray in faith in His name and according to His will? Did He leave something out? Would Jesus hold out on His true followers? Never!
Understanding this truth, God has declared in His Word that He does not leave it up to earnest, yet sinful people, to reinvent their own Christianity. When Christians ignore God’s instructions in following Him they end up learning the way of the heathen. Israel did this countless times. It is just human nature.
The account of Cain and Abel is a classic biblical example of spiritual infidelity. Both of Adam’s sons wanted to please God, but Cain decided he would experiment with his own method of being devout. Cain must have reasoned to himself: “Perhaps God would like fruit or grain better than a dead animal. It’s not as gross. It’s less smelly. Hey, I think I will try it!”
As you know, God was not the least bit impressed by Cain’s attempt to create his own approach to pleasing God. The Lord made it clear to Cain that God’s favor would be upon him if he did what is right, not just what was intended for God or God-focused.
In many ways, the Desert Fathers were like Cain—eager to please but not willing to listen to the instruction of the Lord and do what was right. One cannot fault them for their devotion, but one certainly can fault them for their lack of discernment.
1. William Shannon, Seeds of Peace, p. 66.
2. Daniel Goleman, The Meditative Mind 1988, p.53.
3. Ken Kaisch, Finding God, p.191.
4. Father William Teska, Meditation in Christianity , p.65.
5. Tilden Edwards, Living in the Presence , Acknowledgement page.
A list of ancient mystics (taken from Chris Lawson’s A Directory of Authors: Three NOT Recommended Lists booklet)
Mystics from the past oftentimes favorably endorsed by “Christian” authors today
Middle Ages (Medieval Times) and Renaissance
Angela of Foligno (1248–1309)
Anthony of Padua (1195–1231)
Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153)
Catherine of Siena (1347–1380)
Desert Fathers, The
Hadewijch of Antwerp (13th century)
Henry Suso (1295–1366)
Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179)
Hugh of Saint Victor (1096–1141)
Jacopone da Todi (1230–1306)
Johannes Tauler (d.1361)
John of Ruysbroeck (1293–1381)
John Scotus Eriugena (810–877)
Julian of Norwich (1342–1416)
Mechthild of Magdeburg (1212–1297)
Meister Eckhart (1260–1327)
Richard of Saint Victor (d.1173)
Richard Rolle (1300–1341)
The Cloud of the Unknowing (anonymous, instruction in mysticism, 1375)
Theologia Germanica (anonymous, mystical treatise, late 14th century)
Thomas a’ Kempis (1380–1471)
Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
Walter Hilton (1340–1396)
Renaissance, Reformation, and Counter–Reformation
Brother Lawrence (1614–1691)
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1822)
George Fox (1624–1691)
Ignatius of Loyola (1491–1556)
Jakob Böhme (1575–1624)
Jean Nicolas Grou (1731-1803)
John of the Cross (Juan de Yepes) (1542–1591)
Joseph of Cupertino (1603–1663)
Madame Guyon (1647–1717)
Teresa of Ávila (1515–1582)
Theophan the Recluse (1815–1894)
William Law (1686–1761)
Modern Era (19th—20th Century)
Alexandrina Maria da Costa (1904–1955)
Bernadette Roberts (1931–)
Berthe Petit (1870–1943)
Carmela Carabelli (1910–1978)
Domenico da Cese (1905–1978)
Evelyn Underhill (1875–1941)
Flower A. Newhouse (1909–1994)
Frank Laubach (1884–1970)
Frederick Buechner (1926–)
Karl Rahner (1904–1984)
Lúcia Santos (1907–2005)
Maria Pierina de Micheli (1890–1945)
Maria Valtorta (1898–1963)
Marie Lataste (1822–1899)
Marie Martha Chambon (1841–1907)
Martin Buber (1868–1965)
Mary Faustina Kowalska (1905–1938)
Mary of Saint Peter (1816–1848)
Mary of the Divine Heart (1863–1899)
Padre Pio of Pietrelcina (1887–1968)
Pierina Gilli (1911–1991)
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881– 1955)
Simone Weil (1909–1943)
Soren Kierkegaard (1813–1855)
Thomas Merton (1915–1968)
Thomas Raymond Kelly (1893–1941)
NEW BOOKLET TRACT Provides Irrefutable Evidence: A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer
LTRP Note: For thirteen years, Lighthouse Trails has been warning about the contemplative prayer movement. In this new booklet tract, Ray Yungen has provided new information that makes the contemplative argument (against it) irrefutable. We intend to send a copy of this booklet to all of the major Christian leaders whom we have challenged including Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Charles Stanley, Chuck Swindoll, Focus on the Family, Dr. George Wood (AOG), and Erwin Lutzer. If these leaders will read this evidence, we do not see how they can continue to promote contemplative spirituality or Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer.
A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer by Ray Yungen is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer, click here.
A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer
[W]e should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.1—Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline: the Path to Spiritual Growth
Christianity is not complete without the contemplative dimension.2—Richard Foster
In Portland, Oregon there is a large bookstore devoted entirely to New Age spirituality. Every Eastern mystical and metaphysical topic under the sun is found there. Interestingly, there is a sizable section on contemplative prayer with Catholic monk Thomas Merton having a whole shelf devoted just to his writings. Why would a New Age bookstore give valuable space to a topic that purports to be Christian? That is a legitimate question. May I suggest the reason is that the “Christian” mystical tradition (i.e., contemplative prayer) shares a sense of profound kinship with the Eastern mystical tradition. There is ample evidence to support this claim.
In this booklet, we are going to examine a few of the major players in the contemplative prayer movement to show that Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer does not belong in Christianity. In fact, as you will see, the message behind it is the very opposite of biblical Christianity and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
What is the “School” of Contemplative Prayer?
In Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster says “we should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.” What does he mean when he says “school” of contemplative prayer? When Foster uses the word school, he does not mean, of course, a building or an institution somewhere. For example, Webster’s New World College Dictionary has nine different definitions for the word school. The one that fits what we are trying to get across is:
. . . a group of people held together by the same teachings, beliefs, opinions, methods, etc.3
When one examines the spiritual context of this definition, one can see what kind of spiritual “fruit” it produces. The only way you can ascertain the real essence of a movement is to look at the leaders or prominent individuals in that “school” to see just where their practices have led them, what conclusions they have come to, and what propels their vision of truth.
Let’s first establish what is meant by the word contemplation. Carl McColman in his Big Book of Christian Mysticism explains the context of it in the following way:
[Contemplation] comes from the Latin word contemplare, which means “to observe” or “to notice.” The word is also rooted in the word “temple,” however, relating it to sacred space. . . . Once Christianized, contemplation lost its association with divination [soothsaying] and came to signify the prayerful practice of attending to the presence of God.4
So if Foster is correct, the leaders of this movement are those who have turned to the presence of God in a unique and profound way, and their methods should be followed to achieve the same results.
Now let’s look at the spiritual perspectives of these leaders in the “school of contemplative prayer.”
Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk, is the most widely recognized of the modern-day contemplative writers. His influence is enormous in the contemplative field. Richard Foster quotes Merton over a dozen times in Celebration of Discipline and in other books as well, and many other evangelicals also quote Merton. The following entry from Merton’s published work, The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (written during his last trip to Asia*) speaks volumes as to Merton’s spiritual sympathies:
We went looking first for Chatral Rimpoche [a Tibetan holy man] at his hermitage above Ghoom. . . . We were told he was at an ani gompa, a nunnery, down the road. . . . So off we went toward Bagdogra and with some difficulty found the tiny nunnery . . . and there was Chatral, the greatest rimpoche [a Buddhist teacher] I have met so far and a very impressive person.
. . . We started talking about dzogchen and Nyingmapa meditation and “direct realization” and soon saw that we agreed very well. . . . The unspoken or half-spoken message of the talk was our complete understanding of each other as people who were somehow on the edge of great realization . . . and that it was a grace for us to meet one another. I wish I could see more of Chatral. He burst out and called me a rangjung Sangay (which apparently means a “natural Buddha”) . . . He told me, seriously, that perhaps he and I would attain to complete Buddhahood in our next lives, perhaps even in this life, and the parting note was a kind of compact that we would both do our best to make it in this life. I was profoundly moved, because he is so obviously a great man, the true practitioner of dzogchen, the best of the Nyingmapa lamas, marked by complete simplicity and freedom. He was surprised at getting on so well with a Christian and at one point laughed and said, “There must be something wrong here!” If I were going to settle down with a Tibetan guru, I think Chatral would be the one I’d choose.5 (emphasis added)
An equally revealing aspect of Merton’s Asian trip is what he experienced at a Buddhist shrine in Ceylon:
. . . an inner clearness, clarity, as if exploding from the rocks themselves, became evident and obvious. . . . All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simply because what matters is clear. The rock, all matter, all life, is charged with dharmakaya [the unity of all things and all people]. . . I don’t know when in my life I have ever had such a sense of beauty and spiritual validity running together in one aesthetic illumination. Surely . . . my Asian pilgrimage has come clear and purified itself. I . . . have seen what I was obscurely looking for. I don’t know what else remains.6 (emphasis added)
Why would someone who was so heavily involved in “Christian” mysticism be so entwined in and enthusiastically embracing of Buddhist mysticism? I considered titling this booklet Something’s Wrong Here because even though Chatral meant it in a positive way, when he said those words to Merton, he himself was shocked that Merton, a professing Christian, was basically on the same page as him and that they were able to fellowship.
One of Merton’s biographers, William Shannon, made this very clear when he explained:
If one wants to understand Merton’s going to the East it is important to understand that it was his rootedness in his own faith tradition [Catholicism] that gave him the spiritual equipment [contemplative prayer] he needed to grasp the way of wisdom that is proper to the East.7
What Merton meant by “dharmakaya” is actually what the New Age and eastern religions call cosmic consciousness (i.e., God is in everything and everybody.) But Foster, in his book Celebration of Discipline, guarantees the reader that what he’s promoting will not lead to cosmic consciousness. He states, “It involves no hidden mysteries, no secret mantras, no mental gymnastics, no esoteric flights into the cosmic consciousness.”8
Foster’s attempt to assuage any suspicion of practicing contemplative prayer is countered by William Shannon’s assertion that it was precisely contemplative prayer that brought Merton into his embracing of this Buddhist worldview.
A skeptic might say, well, Merton was just an anomaly who got off track, but in general the contemplative leads to the God of the Bible. I beg to differ. To show this is not the case, we need to look at other teachers in the “school of contemplative prayer.”
Dutch Catholic priest, Henri Nouwen, would probably rank second to Merton in influence and admiration. Popular evangelical author Tony Campolo calls Nouwen “one of the great Christians of our time,” stating:
[Nouwen’s] writings have guided and inspired Christians of all persuasions . . . whose life was a brilliant example of twentieth-century saintliness.9
Campolo’s admiration is widely mirrored in the evangelical world; just as Merton is quoted in many evangelical books these days, so also is Nouwen. Kay Warren, Rick Warren’s wife, is one of the popular evangelicals who sees great value in Nouwen’s work:
My wife, Kay, recommends this book: “It’s a short book, but it hits at the heart of the minister. It mentions the struggles common to those of us in ministry: the temptation to be relevant, spectacular and powerful. I highlighted almost every word!”10 (emphasis added)
The book Kay Warren recommends is In the Name of Jesus by Nouwen, who devotes an entire chapter of that book to contemplative prayer, saying:
Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love . . . For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required.11 (emphasis added)
But just as Merton had absorbed eastern spirituality so too had Nouwen, which is no surprise because he was a disciple of Merton. Nouwen wrote the foreword to a book that mixes Christianity with Hindu spirituality, in which he says:
[T]he author shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Moslem religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian . . . Ryan [the author] went to India to learn from spiritual traditions other than his own. He brought home many treasures and offers them to us in the book.12
Nouwen apparently took these approaches seriously himself. In his book, The Way of the Heart, he advised his readers:
The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart . . . This way of simple prayer . . . opens us to God’s active presence.13
But what “God’s active presence” taught him, unfortunately, stood more in line with Hinduism than evangelical Christianity. He wrote:
Prayer is “soul work” because our souls are those sacred centers where all is one, . . . It is in the heart of God that we can come to the full realization of the unity of all that is.14 (emphasis mine)
Again, a Christian admirer of Nouwen may think the previous quotes could fit into a legitimate Christian experience of God’s love and grace and that I am just taking these out of context. But this is certainly not the case. Nouwen himself revealed his spiritual influences in his diary, Sabbatical Journey, which he wrote shortly before his death:
On our way to the health club I had bought a Walkman to listen to an audiotape with a talk by Matthew Fox called “Creation, Spirituality, and the Seven Chakras.” So, while working up a sweat on the trotter, I tried to make my time useful listening to Matthew Fox.15
This piece of information reveals that Nouwen was connected to the idea that the chakras, (which the previous quotes are based on) are integral to spiritual development. The crown chakra, in particular, is the one that is tied to the idea that all is one and the unity of everything that is.16
In the book, The Essential Henri Nouwen, which is published by Shambhala Publications (a Buddhist publishing house), Nouwen said contemplative prayer “opens our eyes to the presence of the divine Spirit in all that surrounds us.”17 That is exactly the same as what Merton meant by dharmakaya, that God is in everything that exists (panentheism, which mirrors occultism).
Thomas Keating, a trappist monk like Merton, is head of an organization called Contemplative Outreach. He is closely identified with the contemplative prayer (which he calls centering prayer) movement. Keating has written numerous books on the subject of contemplative prayer; in fact, one of evangelical Christianity’s most popular teachers, Ruth Haley Barton, considers Keating to be a strong spiritual influence in her life.18
Keating actually makes this point when he informs his readers that “‘meditation’ means to people exposed to Eastern methods what we Christians mean by contemplation as a way of disregarding the usual flow of thoughts for certain periods of time.”19
As with the others, Keating went in a Hindu or New Age direction, and he wrote the foreword to a book devoted to what practitioners of Yoga call the Kundalini or serpent power:
Since this energy [kundalini] is also at work today in numerous persons who are devoting themselves to contemplative prayer, this book is an important contribution to the renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition. It will be a great consolation to those who have experienced physical symptoms arising from the awakening of kundalini in the course of their spiritual journey . . . Most spiritual disciplines world-wide insist on some kind of serious discipline before techniques of awakening kundalini are communicated. In Christian tradition . . . the regular practice of the stages of Christian prayer . . . contemplation are the essential disciplines.20
To show how far someone can stray using contemplative prayer as a way to reach God, Keating is a perfect example. Keating enthusiastically endorses a book titled Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey in Christian Hermeticism. Fortune-telling Tarot cards are one of the major tools for divination in occultism; and Hermeticism is a set of ancient esoteric beliefs based on the writings of Hermes Trismegistus, the one who coined the occult term “as above so below.” Keating said the book is one of the “great spiritual classics of this century.”21 He drifted so afield from even Catholicism that it is difficult to comprehend.
Without a doubt, Catholic priest Richard Rohr is one of the most prominent living proponents of contemplative prayer today. His organization, The Center for Contemplation and Action, is a bastion for contemplative spirituality. And like our other contemplative prayer “school” masters, he has been embraced by numerous popular evangelical authors. Richard Foster, for example, had Rohr on an advisory board for a 2010 book Foster edited titled 25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Essential Devotional Classics.22
Rohr has essentially become the new Thomas Merton to an entirely new generation of evangelical Christians. In an interview, Rohr said:
[O]ne of my publishers . . . told me that right now my single biggest demographic is young evangelicals—young evangelicals. Some of my books are rather heavy. I’m just amazed.23
Rohr’s statement is correct about young evangelicals. A case in point is an organization called IF: Gathering. The leaders of IF are dynamic energetic women who hold large conferences geared primarily toward young evangelical women. While these women may be sincere in what they are trying to do, they promote figures such as emergent leaders Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, as well as Richard Rohr. Lighthouse Trails has published a booklet on IF that I encourage you to read to understand the full scope of this growing women’s movement.24
To further understand the significance of this, Rohr is a prominent champion for the idea of a global religion that would unify the world. He says that “religion needs a new language.”25 And that language to bring about this one-world religion is mysticism (i.e., contemplative prayer)! Rohr stated:
Right now there is an emergence . . . it’s coming from so many different traditions and sources and parts of the world. Maybe it’s an example of the globalization of spirituality.26
This view ties in perfectly with the emerging church’s perspective that is so popular among younger evangelicals today. It’s no wonder that Richard Rohr and emerging church leaders (such as Brian McLaren) are so supportive of each other and endorse each other’s books.
In echoing Merton and Nouwen, Rohr also advocates the concept of dharmakaya. This is the recurring theme of the “school” of contemplative prayer. Rohr states:
God’s hope for humanity is that one day we will all recognize that the divine dwelling place is all of creation. Christ comes again whenever we see that matter and spirit co-exist. This truly deserves to be called good news.27
To dispel any confusion about what Rohr is saying, he makes it clear in the same paragraph what he means by God dwelling in all creation. He uses a term that one finds throughout contemplative literature, which signifies that Christ is more of an energy than a personal being. Rohr explains the term “cosmic Christ,” telling readers that everything and everyone belongs to God’s kingdom.28 That’s even the name of one of his books, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer.
In his 2011 book, Falling Upward, Rohr implies that we (humanity) are all an “immaculate conception.”29 If these things are true, then there was no need for Jesus Christ to die on the Cross for the sins of mankind. We would not need a Savior because we would already be divine ourselves. In truth, contemplative spirituality is the antithesis of the Gospel. That is why there are countless mystics who claim to know God (or Jesus) but will have nothing to do with the Cross.
The New Age Connection
Lighthouse Trails Publishing’s main endeavor since its inception has been to show the strong connection between the contemplative prayer movement and the broader spectrum of New Age spirituality as pointed out at the beginning of this booklet. One can prove the overwhelmingly strong parallels. The authors I have just profiled are not unique in what they say. I could list several pages of other contemplative authors that say the identical things.
I want to showcase one other author who represents the typical contemplative viewpoint. Tom Harpur, a well-known author, broadcaster, and Anglican priest in Canada sums up what you would find in virtually every contemplative book from the Roman Catholic and Anglican tradition. In talking about his upbringing in the traditional Anglican church, he explains the radical difference between his former Christianity and his contemplative Christianity:
There was much more emphasis on our basic sinfulness and depravity than there ever was on the possibility of God already being present in our souls or “hearts.” I was told to again accept Christ and “let him come in” instead of being helped to acknowledge the fact that all I had to do was to open my inner eye and realize God was already there waiting to be known and followed. We were taught little, if anything, about the great mystics and about the long tradition of meditation in our own Christian faith.30 (emphasis added)
Harpur makes Lighthouse Trails’ point very succinctly that the mystical tradition that is coming to the forefront now does not correspond to the biblical Gospel that has been at the heart of Christianity.
Let me say this: If the contemplative prayer movement was not connected to historically respected denominations, that if it was an independent organization such as the ones found in books on cults, then the contemplative prayer movement would be labeled a cult by most evangelical organizations because of the extreme aberrations one finds concerning the Gospel. Merton’s dharmakaya cannot be reconciled with justification through faith by the blood of Christ.
The Age of Enlightenment
Another good example to show that contemplative prayer shares the same view as known occultists can be found in a book called Tomorrow’s God by New Age author Neale Donald Walsch, in which he presents the coming world religion that will unify mankind in what is called the Age of Aquarius or Age of Enlightenment (i.e., the New Age). He says the first step is to “[b]egin a schedule of daily practice in meditation, deep prayer, silent listening.”31 After giving the mechanics of the new spirituality, Walsch gives the theology which is: “In the days of the New spirituality the unity of all things will be experiential.”32
This is what the contemplatives experience in their mystical sessions. Walsch again says, “The Big Idea is that there is only One God, and this one God does not care whether you are Catholic or Protestant, Jewish or Muslim, Hindu or Mormon, or have no religion at all.”33 This is basically what Richard Rohr is saying in Everything Belongs. And this is the reason why Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer is not, and never will be, compatible with traditional biblical Christianity or the Gospel message proclaimed by Jesus Christ and his disciples.
If I were to ever meet someone who asked me, “why are you out to destroy Richard Foster?,” I would tell them: I actually care about Richard Foster. The things I write about him are not out of malice or ill-will but out of a deep sense of commitment to his and his readers’ spiritual well-being. Celebration of Discipline is at the heart (both directly or indirectly) of the majority of Spiritual Formation programs in Bible schools, seminaries, Christian colleges, and universities. What the Tibetan holy man said in response to Thomas Merton’s belief—“There must be something wrong here!”—is the same sentiment that propels the writing of this booklet. There is something wrong here!
Contrary to what the contemplatives teach, there is duality, and the Bible teaches it—there are the sheep and the goats, the wheat and the tares, the saved and the unsaved, and the righteous and the unrighteous. New Age thinkers would reject this because they believe all is God. In the contemplative camp when Richard Rohr says everything belongs, this is what makes it New Age. The golden calf and Yahweh are not the same God. It was the cause for God’s anger. Simply put, everything does not belong!
My prayer is that people can see the logic in this. And what makes it even more imperative is that this contemplative view comes from supernatural sources. We are not dealing with just human perspectives and ideas.
Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer employs the same methods as those of Richard Rohr and Thomas Merton that lead to a certain perception. The following quote by Foster further illustrates this:
We shut out every other source of stimulation—sensual, intellectual and reflective—in order to focus on God alone. At this level, we even move beyond our thoughts of God in order to dwell in his presence without thought or distraction.34
This is exactly the contemplative prayer that Thomas Merton embraced, which led Episcopal priest Brian C. Taylor to say:
The God he [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment.35
What we conclude is that Thomas Merton’s spirituality has come into the evangelical church through Richard Foster’s “school” of contemplative prayer. And this is one school where no Christian should enroll.
To order copies of A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer, click here.
1. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1978 edition), p. 13.
2. Interview with Richard Foster, Lou Davies Radio Program (KPAM radio, Portland, Oregon, Nov. 24, 1998).
3. Webster’s New World College Dictionary, p. 1283.
4. Carl McColman, Big Book of Christian Mysticism (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Road Publishing, 2010), p. 222.
5. Thomas Merton, The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (New Directions Books, 1975), pp. 234-236.
7. William Shannon, Silence on Fire (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1991), p. 99.
8. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (HarperCollins, 2009, Kindle Edition), p. 17.
9. Tony Campolo, Speaking My Mind (Nashville, TN: W. Publishing Group, 2004), p. 72.
10. Rick Warren quoting Kay Warren on the Ministry Toolbox (Issue #54, 6/5/2002, http://web.archive.org/web/20050306004007/http://www.pastors.com/RWMT/?ID=54).
11. Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 2000), pp. 6, 31-32.
12. Thomas Ryan, Disciplines for Christian Living (Mawah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1993), pp. 2-3 (the foreword by Henri Nouwen).
13. Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1991), p. 81.
14. Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1997), Jan. 15 and Nov. 16 daily readings.
15. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 496-497.
16. These two thoughts are found in the writings of Matthew Fox and many other New Age advocates.
17. Robert A. Jonas (Editor), The Essential Henri Nouwen (Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, 2009), p. 38.
18. Lighthouse Trails Editors, “More Evidence and a Final Plea as Assemblies of God Conference with Ruth Haley Barton Begins August 5th” (Lighthouse Trails blog: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=12401).
19. Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1994), p. 117.
20. Philip St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality (Crossroad, 1995). This excerpt is in the foreword by Thomas Keating.
21. Thomas Keating, review: http://www.allthingshealing.com/Tarot/Book-Review-Meditations-on-the-Tarot/9699#.VeGxISLbKos.
22. Lighthouse Trails Editors, “Richard Foster’s Renovare Turns to Panentheist Mystic Richard Rohr and Emerging Darling Phyllis Tickle For New Book Project” (September 14, 2010, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4986).
23. Kristen Hobby, “What Happens When Religion Isn’t Doing Its Job: an interview with Richard Rohr, OFM” (Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction, Volume 20, No. 1, March 2014), pp. 6-11.
24. You can read the entire booklet at: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17334 or purchase it as a booklet at www.lighthousetrails.com.
25. Kristen Hobby interview with Richard Rohr, op. cit. , p. 6
27. Rich Heffern, “The Eternal Christ in the Cosmic Story” (National Catholic Reporter, December 11, 2009, http://ncronline.org/news/spirituality/eternal-christ-cosmic-story).
29. Richard Rohr, Falling Upward (San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass, 2011), p. ix.
30. Tom Harpur, Prayer: The Hidden Fire (Wood Lake Publishing, Kindle Edition, 2012), Kindle Locations 1099-1102.
31. Neale Donald Walsch, Tomorrow’s God (New York, NY: Atria Books, 2004), p. 223.
32. Ibid., p. 263.
33. Ibid., p. 241.
34. Richard Foster, Gayle Beede, Longing for God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009), p. 252.
35. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing, 1996), p. 76.
To order copies of A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer, click here.
Dr. Oz Accused of Medical “Quackery” While His New Age/Spiritual “Quackery” Goes Unaddressed by Rick Warren and the Church
Major secular and Christian news media sources are reporting on an effort by 10 doctors to oust celebrity doctor, Dr. Mehmet Oz, from his faculty position at Columbia University for what the doctors are calling “egregious lack of integrity” and promoting “quack treatments.” The ten doctors wrote a letter to New York’s Columbia University, calling Dr. Oz a quack and an endangerment to his followers for advice he gives about diet and health-related issues. A few reports are coming out stating that at least some of these 10 doctors may not be all that reputable and intentions may have more to do with Dr. Oz’s stance against GMOs and pesticides in food than in does telling his audience how to diet and lose weight. One thing is most likely given Dr. Oz’s high popularity, this will be a story that will stay in the secular headlines for quite awhile.
Amidst this media blitz focusing on some of Dr. Oz’s questionable medical practices, there is another side of this story that has affected mainstream Christianity. Rick Warren and the church seem to be totally unphased by Dr. Oz’s New Age occult spiritual practices. Author Warren B. Smith states that for Rick Warren to invite Dr. Oz into the church (through the Daniel Plan) is “the inconceivable equivalent of the first century church inviting Simon the sorcerer into the church to help it become more healthy.”
Dr. Oz has involved himself with a number of occultic practices, one being his association with psychic John Edwards who supposedly helps people to talk to their dead loved ones. Oz and Edwards did one TV show together titled “Psychic Mediums: Are They the New Therapists? Find Out if Talking to the Dead Is a New Form of Therahttp://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/wp-admin/post.php?post=17243&action=edit&message=1#py,” in which the answer to this question from both men was YES. Oz has also written the forewords to a number of New Age and occultic books including Transcendence: Healing and Transformation Through Transcendental Meditation and Quantum Wellness: A Practical and Spiritual Guide to Health and Happiness.
What would the Old Testament prophet Daniel have thought to know that his name is used in a diet plan that was created by New Age occultic teachers such as Dr. Oz. In the appendix of Warren B. Smith’s book A “Wonderful” Deception and in Smith’s booklet Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan: The New Age/Eastern Meditation Doctors Behind the Saddleback Health Plan, Warren Smith states:
One can only wonder if the prophet Daniel’s vision of the end days included a look at Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan—a compromised pastor and three New Age doctors with their psychics, spirit guides, tantric sex, necromancy, Yoga, Reiki, Transcendental and Kundalini “sa ta na ma” meditations and more—all in Daniel’s name. If so, it is no wonder the Bible records that he “fainted” and became “sick” for a number of days (Daniel 8:27).
Rick Warren has put countless unsuspecting people in harm’s way through his Daniel Plan and brought in “doctrines of devils,” which inadvertently undermines the Gospel. The Gospel message that is presented in the Bible is the antithesis of New Age teaching that says man is God and in no need of a Savior.
Below is a reposting of Warren B. Smith’s article/booklet titled Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan – The New Age/Eastern Meditation Doctors Behind the Saddleback Health Plan:
Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.—(2 Corinthians 2:11)
Who would have believed it? Occult/New Age doctors being invited into the church to teach Christians how to be healthy? On January 15, 2011 a fifty-two week health and wellness program—the Daniel Plan—was initiated at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church. More than six thousand people attended the well promoted and carefully staged event. Warren took the opportunity to announce that his own personal goal was to lose 90 pounds in 2011. The Daniel Plan website states that “the Daniel Plan envisions starting a movement so the result is better physical and spiritual health for current and future generations.”1 It describes how Rick Warren “recruited three best-selling authors” to create and oversee the Daniel Plan Curriculum—Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hyman.2 Although these three physicians are all involved with New Age teachings, they describe themselves respectively as a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew.
On their church’s Daniel Plan website, Saddleback pastor Brandon Cox tried to defend Rick Warren’s indefensible decision to recruit three New Age doctors to implement a Christian health and wellness program. In his “Pastoral Response” to the question “Why did Saddleback Church choose to use these Doctors who have been linked to other beliefs?,” Cox wrote:
“Pastor Rick knows each of these Doctors personally and has the utmost trust in their ability to advise us about matters related to physical health.” In a statement reminiscent of Little Red Riding Hood’s “grandmother,” Cox goes on to state: “These Doctors are helping us as friends, but are in no way advising our church on spiritual matters.”3
By repeating and emphasizing the term “physical health” three times in the response, Saddleback was obviously trying to distance itself from Oz, Amen, and Hyman’s New Age beliefs. But the “we’re only using them for physical health purposes” defense was not convincing. All three physicians are alternative medicine/holistic health practitioners who teach the indivisibility of “mind, body, spirit” in achieving optimum well-being. In other words, their New Age spiritual beliefs are necessarily embedded in their medical practice, their best-selling books, and their public appearances.
Dr. Mehmet Oz
Dr. Oz is the cardiovascular surgeon who was featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show for five years before gaining his own popular daytime TV show. He also has a daily talk show on Oprah & Friends satellite radio and writes columns for several magazines including Oprah’s O Magazine. Operating out of Columbia University’s Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Oz is like a modern-day shaman as he mixes traditional medicine with a wide variety of occult/New Age practices. In The Way of the Shaman, a “foremost resource and reference on shamanism,” Michael Harner—an anthropologist who “has practiced shamanism and shamanic healing” for several decades4—gives the following definition of a shaman:
A shaman is a man or woman who enters an altered state of consciousness—at will—to contact and utilize an ordinarily hidden reality in order to acquire knowledge, power, and to help other persons. The shaman has at least one, and usually more, “spirits” in his personal service.5
The following is a sampling of what Dr. Oz subtly, and not so subtly, incorporates into his medical practice and into his life. For instance, Dr. Oz’s prominent endorsement is displayed on the front cover of self-described psychic Ainslie MacLeod’s book The Instruction: Living the Life Your Soul Intended. Juxtaposing the phrase “spiritual well-being” with the word “purpose,” Oz writes:
I recommend this book to those who seek greater spiritual well-being and a better understanding of their life’s purpose.6
In Oz’s endorsement of another Ainslie MacLeod book, The Transformation: Healing Your Past Lives to Realize Your Soul’s Potential, Dr. Oz makes it clear that his approach to physical health is inextricably bound up with his beliefs regarding spiritual health. They cannot be neatly separated out as Rick Warren’s Saddleback staff would have everyone believe. Dr. Oz’s front cover endorsement states:
Ainslie MacLeod is at the frontier of exploration into the soul and its profound influence on our physical selves.7
In The Transformation, MacLeod’s spirit guides tell MacLeod’s readers “that we are standing on the brink of the greatest leap in human consciousness in 55,000 years.”8 Later, in a psychic reading that MacLeod gives to one of his clients, his spirit guides refer his client to Dr. Daniel Amen for help.9 Amen, of course being one of the other two Daniel Plan physicians. In The Instruction, among other things, MacLeod teaches readers how to meditate and contact spirit guides. In fact, spirit guides are referred to a whopping 175 times in the book—40 times before you even get to Chapter One. In his introduction, MacLeod describes how the skeptic in him used to read a book like his and think—“Who died and made this guy an expert?” In his own case, MacLeod said the answer was his spirit guides—one of them being his deceased Uncle John.10
Dr. Oz’s New Age affinity for psychics, spirit guides, past lives, and contacting the dead was showcased on his March 15, 2011 program—just two months after the launch of the Daniel Plan—titled, “Psychic Mediums: Are they the New Therapists?” The promo on his website read: “Can talking to lost loved ones heal your grief? Hear why psychic John Edward believes you can talk to the dead.”11
On a January 6, 2010 Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Oz revealed what he believed to be “the most important alternative medicine treatment” for his viewers in that coming year. His #1 “Oz’s Order” was to “Try Reiki”12—an occult bodywork practice that incorporates the channeled guidance of spirit guides. Dr. Oz was reported in one press release as stating: “Reiki is one of my favorites, we’ve been using it for years in the Oz family, and we swear by it.”13
On a video on Dr. Oz’s website, New Age leader Deepak Chopra teaches viewers how to meditate.14 Chopra’s 2009 book Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul features Dr. Oz’s back cover endorsement.15 Dr. Oz is a personal practitioner of Transcendental Meditation,16 which was founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He has also practiced Yoga for over twenty years17 and is devoted to the New Age teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg—teachings that resonate with the mystical Sufi branch of the Muslim faith that he and his wife most identify with.18
Dr. Oz wrote the Foreword to US—a New Age book written by his wife Lisa, who is a Reiki Master19—a book that opens with a quote on oneness by New Age patriarch Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. In his Foreword, Oz credits his wife’s spiritual influence while also mentioning that a number of years ago he “matriculated at Oprah University.”20 Dr. Oz endangers those who put their trust in him by interjecting his occult/New Age beliefs into his medical practice.
Presumably, the “Open Heart meditation” given to Ainslie MacLeod by his spirit guides21 is not used by Dr. Oz before he does open heart surgery. One thing is for spiritual sure, Dr. Oz may be a skilled cardiovascular surgeon, but spiritually he is overlooking one of the most important aspects of the heart. God, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, warns, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Multiple references in the Bible also warn about the extremely dangerous and deceptive nature of “familiar” and “seducing” spirits that Dr. Oz is in the process of normalizing through his extreme influence in the world and now in the church (see Leviticus 19:31; Deuteronomy 18:10-12; 1 Timothy 4:1, etc.).
Dr. Daniel Amen
Dr. Amen is a child and adolescent psychiatrist, best-selling author, and medical director of the Amen Clinics for Behavioral Medicine. In his book Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, he encourages readers to “Learn and use self-hypnosis and meditation on a daily basis.”22 In Change Your Brain, Change Your Body, Amen, a self-professed Christian, specifically recommends a Hindu Kundalini form of meditation called Kirtan Kriya. He instructs his readers to chant “sa ta na ma” repeatedly while simultaneously doing repetitive finger movements.23 In a New Age world that says “everything happens for a reason” and “there are no accidents,” the first five letters of this Hindu meditation spell the name of Satan. The last three letters just so happen to be the abbreviated letters of the American Medical Association (AMA). Is this pure coincidence, some kind of cosmic joke, or spiritual mockery?
In his book The Brain in Love (formerly titled Sex on the Brain), Dr. Amen recommends tantric sex to his readers. He writes that tantra “is a term applied to several schools of Hindu yoga in which sex is worshipped.”24 He states that “[s]ome tantra yoga teachers recommend meditative practices that also share elements with Kundalini yoga, where subtle streams of energy are raised in the body by means of posture, breath control, and movements.”25 He later adds:
After you have agreed to safe boundaries, you can take sex to a new level by investing in a few books or magazines. I write for Men’s Health magazine and it is always filled with great sex tips for couples. Cosmopolitan and other magazines have playful ideas as well. Books on tantric sex or role-playing games can also be fun.”26
Dr. Amen’s fascination with tantric sex and Kundalini yoga is very similar to the teachings of Indian gurus like Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and Swami Baba Muktananda. Dr. Amen’s New Age sympathies are also evident in his willingness to write the Foreword to author Lucinda Bassett’s The Solution. In her book, Bassett quotes New Age leaders Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, the Dalai Lama, Neale Donald Walsch, and others. She describes Walsch as “a spiritual messenger whose best-selling books and lectures profoundly touch the world.”27
Dr. Mark Hyman
Dr. Hyman is the chairman of the Institute of Functional Medicine and author of the best-selling book The UltraMind Solution. With its front cover endorsement by Dr. Mehmet Oz, The UltraMind Solution offers practical medical advice while at the same time recommending a number of New Age resources to his readers. For example, he recommends the website of New Age author and guided imagery proponent Belleruth Naparstek.28 Her books and materials are designed to help people meditate, become more psychic, and connect with spirit guides. Her website describes how her materials are used worldwide by patients, hospitals, HMO’s, government agencies, etc. Dr. Hyman and New Age leader Dr. Bernie Siegel are listed as two of Naparstek’s “contributing health and mind-body health practitioners.”29 Siegel, of course being the New Age leader Rick Warren used to introduce the idea of hope and purpose in The Purpose-Driven Life. Like Dr. Oz and Dr. Amen, Dr. Hyman recommends meditation and yoga to his readers.30
Dr. Hyman endorsed a New Age book titled Power Up Your Brain—The Neuroscience of Enlightenment. It is co-authored by shaman/medium Alberto Villoldo and neurologist David Perlmutter. The Foreword from the publisher states:
And now two men, two seers—a shaman and a scientist—are combining their experiences and expertise to explore the totality that includes all of the spirit world and all of the scientific world—as One.31
David Perlmutter writes:
For it had become clear to us that access to the Great Spirit or Divine Energy—that natural force which is called by so many names—is available to all. In a sense we are all shamans, and the most advanced teachings in cellular biology are validating lifestyle activities that for centuries, have been paving the way to enlightenment through meditative practices not just for the chosen few but for all who care to learn. Our collaboration explores the implications of this not only for individuals but for all of humanity.32
Villoldo—who spoke at a 2011 Palm Springs Prophets Conference with New Age leader Barbara Marx Hubbard33— writes:
During my years studying with the shamans, I learned about their belief in the Divine Mother, which we each have the potential to discover in nature. This was not the bearded old man whose image I had come to associate with “God.” Rather, this was a force that infused all creation, a sea of energy and consciousness that we all swim in and are part of. I came to understand that our Western notions of the divine are perhaps a masculine version of this life force that infuses every cell in our bodies, that animates all living beings, and that even fuels stars.34
Power Up Your Brain includes a chapter recommending various “Shamanic Exercises” that include an invocation to the “Great Serpent.”35 Dr. Hyman’s back cover endorsement of this book sits alongside New Age leaders Bernie Siegel and Greg Braden.
In his endorsement, Hyman betrays his belief in shamanism and the inextricable New Age link between physical and spiritual health. He writes:
The shaman and physician for millennia were the same person until the 19th century when they were split apart in the name of science. Now through the lens of 21st-century science, Villoldo and Perlmutter bring them back together, illuminating the web that links together our physical and metaphysical energy. For anyone feeling a loss of energy of body or soul, Power Up Your Brain is your guide to restoration and rejuvenation of your deepest energies.
Also referring to “restoration” in The UltraMind Solution, Dr. Hyman lists three New Age centers in his “Resources” section. Under the heading of “Restorative and Educational Retreats,” he recommends the Omega Institute, the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, and the Shambhala Mountain Center.36 Ainslie MacLeod—the Dr. Oz endorsed psychic—is a “faculty member” at both the Kripalu Center and the Omega Institute.37 The Omega Institute offers a number of workshops led by key New Age leaders like Neale Donald Walsch, Marianne Williamson, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, and Alberto Villoldo. Classes such as “Conversations with God,” “Contacting the Spirit World,” “How Shamans Dream the World into Being,” and “Bootcamp for Goddesses,” are readily available to those following Dr. Hyman’s advice.38 And at the Dr. Hyman endorsed Kripalu Center, New Age leader Deepak Chopra offers a workshop on his Dr. Oz endorsed book, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul. In case people can’t make it to Saddleback Church, Dr. Daniel Amen also teaches a workshop at Kripalu.
Key Scriptures Regarding Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers. —(2 Corinthians 6:14)
And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. —(Ephesians 5:11)
Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. —(1 Corinthians 10:21)
Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way. —(Romans 14:13)
Shepherding the Church into a New Age/New Spirituality
In the 1990s, a well-known Christian leader rightly warned that alternative medicine and holistic health can provide an easy entryway for deceptive New Age teachings. He further warned that changing your diet can also end up changing your worldview. In other words, sometimes losing weight can also mean losing your soul. Speaking from his leadership role with the Christian Medical Association, Dr. David Stevens also urges great discretion regarding alternative health practitioners. He states: “Not only do we have to make a choice; we also have to evaluate the trustworthiness of each messenger and the validity of the message.”39
The Christian Handbook to Alternative Medicine also warns, “Consider carefully not only the therapy but also the character and worldview of those offering the treatment.”40 Thus, it is definitely “buyer beware” when it comes to mixed-bag physicians like Oz, Amen, and Hyman. But that doesn’t seem to matter to Rick Warren as he openly aligns himself with these New Age doctors and promises to make their joint Daniel Plan a worldwide phenomenon. Instead of sounding a warning trumpet and protecting the church from three New Age physicians, Warren praises them and trumpets his ungodly alliance with them.
One can only wonder if the prophet Daniel’s vision of the end days included a look at Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan—a compromised pastor and three New Age doctors with their psychics, spirit guides, tantric sex, necromancy, Yoga, Reiki, Transcendental and Kundalini “sa ta na ma” meditations and more—all in Daniel’s name. If so, it is no wonder the Bible records that he “fainted” and became “sick” for a number of days (Daniel 8:27).
It doesn’t make any difference in God’s scheme of things if Rick Warren stands slim and trim in front of an adoring church audience after losing 90 pounds. What may be remembered is that in the midst of all the self-congratulatory statistics and frenzied media hoopla, a finger suddenly appeared on the wall behind Rick Warren and wrote the following:
Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting. —(Daniel 5:27)
To order copies of Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan, click here.
1. Week 11: Re-Focusing The Daniel Plan (http://danielplan.com/blogs/dp/dp-week-11-re-focusing-the-daniel-plan).
2. The Daniel Plan: What Makes it Different? (http://www.saddleback.com/thedanielplan/healthyhabits/whatsdifferent).
3. Pastoral Response, Brandon Cox, Saddleback Church (http://www.danielplan.com/toolsandresources/pastoralresponse).
4. Michael Harner, Ph.D., The Way of the Shaman (New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1980, 1990), back cover.
5. Ibid., p. 25.
6. Ainslie MacLeod, The Instruction: Living the Life Your Soul Intended (Boulder, CO: Sounds True, Inc., 2007, 2009), front cover.
7. Ainslie MacLeod, The Transformation: Healing Your Past Lives to Realize Your Soul’s Potential (Boulder, CO: Sounds True, Inc., 2010), front cover.
8. Ibid., front flap.
9. Ibid., pp. 243-244.
10. Ainslie MacLeod, The Instruction, op. cit., pp. 9, 12.
11. “Psychic Mediums: Are they the New Therapists?,” The Dr. Oz Show, aired 3/15/11 (http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/are-psychicsnew-therapists-pt-1).
12. “‘Try Reiki,’ Dr. Oz Tells Millions on TV,” 1/9/10, The Reiki Digest (http://reikidigest.blogspot.com/2010/01/try-reiki-dr-oz-tells-millions-on-tv.html).
13. “Dr. Mehmet Oz Declares Reiki as His #1 Alternative Medicine Secret,” 1/9/2010, Bio-Medicine (http://news.bio-medicine.org/?q=medicine-news-1/dr–mehmet-oz-declares-reiki-as-his–231-alternative-medicine-secret–64270).
14. “Meditation Techniques Demonstrated by Deepak Chopra,” The Dr. Oz Show, added to videos on 2/25/10, (http://www.doctoroz.com/videos/deepak-chopra-meditation).
15. Deepak Chopra, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul: How to Create a New You (New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, Inc., 2009).
16. AARP The Magazine, May/June 2010 issue, p. 82.
18. Lisa Oz, US: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships That Matter Most (New York, NY: Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2010), p. 179.
19. “‘Try Reiki,’ Dr. Oz Tells Millions on TV,” op. cit.
20. Lisa Oz, US, op. cit., p. x.
21. Ainslie MacLeod, The Instruction, op. cit., p. 17.
22. Daniel G. Amen, M.D., Change Your Brain, Change Your Life (New York, NY: Times Books, a division of Random House, Inc., 1998), p. 302.
23. Daniel G. Amen, M.D., Change Your Brain, Change Your Body (New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, Inc., 2010), p. 223.
24. Daniel G. Amen, M.D., The Brain in Love (New York, NY: Three Rivers Press, a division of Random House, Inc., 2007), p. 144.
25. Ibid., p. 145.
26. Ibid., p. 148.
27. Lucinda Bassett, The Solution: Conquer Your Fear, Control Your Future (New York: NY: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 2011), p. 146.
28. Mark Hyman M.D., The UltraMind Solution (New York, NY: Scribner, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2009), p. 402. (Belleruth Naparstek’s website recommended by Dr. Hyman: http://www.healthjourneys.com).
29. Our Practitioner Bios, Health Journeys (http://www.healthjourneys.com/practitioner_bios.asp).
30. Mark Hyman, The UltraMind Solution, op. cit., p. 384.
31. David Perlmutter, M.D., F.A.C.N., Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D., Power Up Your Brain: The Neuroscience of Enlightenment (New York, NY: Hay House, Inc., 2011), p. xiv.
32. Ibid., p. xviii.
33. The Prophets Conference (http://www.greatmystery.org).
34. David Perlmutter, Alberto Villoldo, Power Up Your Brain, op. cit., p. xxi.
35. Ibid., p. 154.
36. Mark Hyman, The UltraMind Solution, op. cit., p. 403.
37. Ainslie MacLeod, The Transformation, op. cit., About the Author, p. 327.
38. Omega Institute (http://www.eomega.org).
39. Donald O’Mathuna, Ph.D. and Walt Larimore, M.D., Alternative Medicine: The Christian Handbook (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001, 2007), p. 9.
40. Ibid., p. 123.
To order copies of Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan, click here.
To Lighthouse Trails:
Just a quick thank you for all the work you do! Your site has given me a wealth of information the past few years!! It is my “go to” site for checking authors speakers and other matters.
Heads up: Liberty is offering yoga under the class name FLOW [see screen shot below]. I never heard of flow, but a quick Google filled me in! As an alumni of LU, I am so concerned with where they are heading . . . [T]here are many professors there that are clueless about the path LU has been taking…. they are all in my prayers. Also, we were there this week for a homeschool basketball tournament, and I noticed they are holding classes for the Daniel Plan. Gotta keep parents informed so they can warn their children, grandchildren, etc.
Blessings…. my prayers are with your ministry
As you can see from the Liberty University page from the link above, the class called Flow is none other than a disguised name for Yoga. The description of the class is: “A rejuvenating vinyasa practice that will fluidly guide you from one pose to the next – uniting the breath and movement. This class will work all muscle groups, increasing your total body strength, balance, and flexibility.”
Now listen to what Yoga Journal (the expert publication for Yoga) has to say about vinyasa Yoga:
What do these diverse phenomena have in common? They are all vinyasas, progressive sequences that unfold with an inherent harmony and intelligence. “Vinyasa” is derived from the Sanskrit term nyasa, which means “to place,” and the prefix vi, “in a special way”—as in the arrangement of notes in a raga, the steps along a path to the top of a mountain, or the linking of one asana to the next. In the yoga world the most common understanding of vinyasa is as a flowing sequence of specific asanas coordinated with the movements of the breath. The six series of Pattabhi Jois’s Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga are by far the best known and most influential.1
This isn’t the first time Liberty University has snuck Yoga classes into the school. In 2007, Lighthouse Trails reported that LU had incorporated Yoga classes into their Physical Education program. The school received a lot of complaints because of the report and eventually removed the class (we think). But now, under disguise, Yoga is back at Liberty.
Lighthouse Trails isn’t too surprised at the Yoga classes at Liberty, but many people who still believe Liberty University is a biblical school will be. For us, we’ve got a list of articles we’ve been writing about Liberty for nearly eight years, and we know the direction the school has been going.
February 2007: Liberty University Uses Contemplative/Emergent Textbooks
October 2007: Liberty University Now Has Yoga Class
We’ll never forget a phone call we received from a Liberty University donor once a number of years ago. He said as he stood on campus one day watching students walking by, he couldn’t believe how many of them were carrying around a copy of Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis. Rather than the students being warned about Bell, the emerging church, and spiritual deception, they were being offered Yoga classes (as they still are today). And any warnings have fallen on deaf ears.
Please read Chris Lawson’s article/booklet tract called Yoga and Christianity: Are They Compatible?
NEW BOOKLET: DANGERS & DECEPTIONS of The Martial Arts and Why One Woman Walked Away From a Championship Career
DANGERS & DECEPTIONS of The Martial Arts and Why One Woman Walked Away From a Championship Career written by Linda Nathan 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. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of DANGERS & DECEPTIONS of The Martial Arts and Why One Woman Walked Away From a Championship Career, click here.
By Linda Nathan
Are you wondering if there’s a problem with involvement in the martial arts? You say your neighbor’s little boy is taking a class, and now your son wants to, too? Several women in your office are learning it for self-defense. And, why, even your church has a class! Perhaps you yourself are involved but feel uncertain and want more information.
How can anything be wrong? How can you tell?
This booklet’s aim is to help you understand and decipher the underlying dangers and deceptions of the martial arts. As we present this material, we remember the words of Scripture, which exhort us:
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)
A True Story
“Tonie, I don’t get it. How can you be a Christian and teach karate too?”
Betty’s words stung, bringing into sharp focus the question Tonie Harris had managed to avoid so far. She knew she had to live her whole life for God—and she wanted to. But, after all, she reasoned for what seemed like the hundredth time, knowing and being able to teach karate was one of her talents, and the Bible says we should use our talents, not bury them, right?
Tonie sighed and put down the book she’d been reading. Her own answers sounded hollow, and Betty’s words wouldn’t go away. Do you think karate is what God wants you to do? Doesn’t it teach you how to turn your body into a weapon, fill your thoughts and life with violence? Focus you on fear? Reveal a lack of trust? So she prayed. But when she looked for information, it was sadly lacking.
After rededicating her life to Christ in 1984, Tonie had continued to teach karate for several more years. Now she’d just started co-teaching karate at a Christian high school with another black belt, and she sure didn’t like the implications of her thoughts. Recent memories of her experiences at the school floated up.
She saw kids’ attitudes changing for the worse—bowing to her instead of to God, lured by power instead of by Christ‘s love. Some of the kids were bullies, and their parents thought that karate was going to teach them discipline. Instead, it was sowing more violence in their souls. Many were making trouble in the halls, using the things she was teaching them on each other.
But she was a Christian now! She could use her karate to talk to people about the Lord and help them learn self-defense and self-discipline, too. Others were doing it—there was friendship evangelism at karate tournaments, Christian music during kata, and prayer at tournaments. Some Christian ministries incorporated Bible lessons with martial arts training. There were women’s groups and witnessing groups, and online chat groups and bulletin boards, all insisting that a Christian could grow in Christ while practicing karate and the martial arts. Why, there was even a karate ministry at a local Bible school.
Karate was just a tool—wasn’t it? Have you ever wondered about that?
When Tonie first walked into a karate school in 1972, she thought she’d found the answer to her years of childhood sexual abuse, her feelings of failure, and her abusive marriage: Train to fight. Fight to win.
At first, she just wanted to defend herself. But soon it turned into something much more. As she turned herself into a fighting machine, she was on top for the first time in her life.
In her meteoric career, Tonie Harris won 58 trophies in six years, held Karate Illustrated’s title of Top Female Karateka in the Pacific Northwest for seven years, and rose to national status. She was in Who’s Who, Karate Illustrated, Fighting Women News, and Black Belt Magazine. A 1983 book on women in the martial arts devotes a whole chapter to Tonie as one of the eight most accomplished women martial artists of the time. She was sensei—Master.
But trying to solve her problems with karate left a wake of divorce and broken relationships, six abortions, the blight of lesbianism, and four deeply troubled children. Two became notorious gang leaders. And her plunge into Eastern religious thought and practice opened the door to disastrous spiritual deception.
Thankfully the story doesn’t end there—because the woman who tried to solve her problems with the armor of karate finally put on the armor of God instead. But it didn’t happen in a day, or even in a year. Tonie has had to learn about the real spiritual battle and how to walk in the light with Jesus Christ.
“After I rededicated my life to Christ in 1984, I continued teaching karate for several more years. And, although I’d slowly been becoming aware of its occult roots, it hadn’t seemed important. Until Isaiah 60:1-2 pierced my heart like a sword”:
For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. (vs. 2)
“I was a new creation now, in a whole new universe based upon wholly different principles. In His light everything was looking different—even karate.”
Now you may be saying, “But that was just Tonie. She wasn’t really living a Christian life while she practiced karate.”
It’s true she wasn’t living a Christian life for many years, but even after becoming a Christian, she tried to walk with the Lord and continue karate, too. That’s when she discovered the answer goes much deeper. For there are vital biblical principles involved that are designed by God to help us walk in a godly manner, to avoid the devil’s snares, and to be protected His way.
From Roots Come Fruits
The martial arts didn’t arise out of a spiritual vacuum. They developed over many centuries, spreading through and acclimating to China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. In each culture, they were powerfully shaped by basic premises of Eastern religious thought: Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Hinduism, animism, shamanism, and Zen Buddhism; and many of their techniques and concepts of energy and life still manifest those influences.1
Final Goal: “Enlightenment”
Although some people may use them mainly for sport or self-defense, at their core, the martial arts as traditionally taught embody a holistic view of life whose final goal is the Eastern objective of religious “enlightenment.” Unlike Westerners, Eastern cultures don’t try to separate physical techniques from religion and philosophy. It’s all rolled up into one system. God and energy are one. And in the transition to American soil in the early 1950s, the whole package came together.
Empty Hand, Full Purse
From 1950 on, the popularity of the martial arts exploded. Within twenty years of its release, Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon grossed 150 million dollars and spearheaded a worldwide martial arts tidal wave to people of almost every culture. By 1993, the martial arts industry as a whole was topping the billion-dollar mark.2 And by 2000, an estimated five million practitioners were busily absorbing the Eastern philosophies of the martial arts.3 The cultural storm has even taken the Christian church. It has been estimated that approximately 20 percent of instructors and 50-70 percent of practitioners call themselves Christians.4 And apparently many don’t see any more problems with it than Tonie did at first. Karate, the “art of the empty hand,” has a full purse.
Fertile Soil in the United States
Why did the martial arts find such fertile soil in the United States? There are six major factors:
Spiritual Vacuum—Traditional moral and social structures based on a more biblical view of life continue to crumble as a result of the cultural upheaval of the ’60s and ’70s, creating a tremendous spiritual vacuum and hunger. The martial arts appeared during this rising tide of paganism and period of extreme social vulnerability, and their philosophies promised to fill that hole.
Drugs—Psychedelic and other “mind-altering” drugs, visits by Eastern “gurus,” and a massive influx of Eastern thought have opened the way for experimentation with Eastern religions and techniques. With its primarily Taoist and Zen Buddhist foundations, the martial arts movement is a major player in the largest occult revival in history, called the “New Age Movement,” or, in today’s more popular terminology, “interspirituality.”
Crime—The rise of immorality, crime, and violence has contributed to personal, family, and community breakdown, unsafe schools and neighborhoods, spiritual emptiness, and feelings of vulnerability and isolation, especially among women and children. Seniors, women, and children are the most frequently attacked people in our society.5 According to one report, 40 percent of the martial arts market consists of children between seven and fourteen.6
A “god” within—As faith in an outside creator God, Bible-based meaning and truth, and morality wanes, the search for stability and meaning keeps shifting inward. Eastern religions and personal spiritual disciplines are pouring into that gap. Witness the incredible spread of Yoga and meditation, which actually were created to foster Eastern-style “enlightenment” but are now popular in churches.
Rebellion—Those in rebellion and involved in paganism are attempting to throw off a creator God who judges in exchange for a “god within” who doesn‘t.
The Media—Martial arts may never have achieved such popularity had it not been for their phenomenal growth in the media.
“If it were just a matter of sport or fun, I doubt the martial arts would’ve become so popular so quickly,” Tonie says. “People are searching for solutions to more urgent problems, and the arts promise them. The conditions in our culture have been just right for their growth.” She should know; she rode in on that wave.
What Are “The Martial Arts” Anyway?
Achieve total self-confidence and inner harmony; develop supernatural powers and wisdom; hone your ability to concentrate on achieving worthwhile goals; find inner peace; and unite the energy of the mind, the body, and the spirit—find and tap the energy of life itself.
The claims for the martial arts are huge and many. Who wouldn’t want to achieve such goals? But what is the basis for these claims anyway?
Are they true? Are they truly compatible with biblical Christianity? Can a Christian become more sanctified by the Holy Spirit through these practices? And are they the answer for the true battle? Why be concerned? Aren’t the martial arts just a neutral sport, like skiing or golf?
Although the phrase “martial arts” can refer to all kinds of fighting on many different levels, today it commonly means hand-to-hand fighting systems of Asian origin that merge spiritual and physical dimensions. It’s this integration of the physical and spiritual, based on Eastern religious principles, that leads its practitioners to make such extravagant claims, and wherein the problems lie.
“Hard vs. Soft“
Martial arts that are used just for sport or physical discipline are called hard or external arts. These include intensive body conditioning, powerful foot and hand strikes, and the use of force (i.e., Kung fu, karate, and judo).
Some people say you can separate these disciplines from the internal or soft arts, which emphasize mystical Taoist and Buddhist concepts. These include spiritual development, balance, form, and seeking control of the so-called chi or Ki force to become attuned with the universe (i.e., t’ai-chi ch’uan and aikido). The Ki concept is common and central to most Eastern religions and refers to a supposedly impersonal universal “life energy” or force. (More about that later.)
While karate and some of the other martial arts have lost some of their overtly “soft” religious approach in their transition to the United States, this handy division is nevertheless much too simplistic for the actual facts. Elements continually overlap, and such worldview coloring can be very subtle indeed.
Some of karate’s greatest living masters, including Joe Hyams, Herman Kauz, Masutatsu Oyama, George Parulski, Jr., and Yozan Dirk Mosig, all agree that Eastern religious concepts and techniques are key to mastering karate and the martial arts.
Mosig, the influential chair of the regional directors for the U.S. Karate Association (USKA) and an eighth-degree black belt insists that Eastern philosophy should be central to all martial arts instruction. Kauz emphasizes that the martial arts really are training in Eastern meditation.7
The River is Wet
As Tonie discovered, if you set foot in the river, sooner or later you’ll get soaked.
Like some of those masters quoted above I started out just trying to get physical control. My first school even de-emphasized the spiritual aspects, but as I went on I got them anyway. Just because you think you‘re avoiding the mental and spiritual aspects of the martial arts doesn‘t mean you won‘t absorb and be subtly affected anyway.
Bowing, specific methods of concentration, meditation, and breath control, emptying the mind, visualizing yourself doing the kata, calling your teacher “master,” centering in the Ki, and trying to “flow” with the “oneness of nature” and your “inner self” are all part of Buddhist and Taoist philosophy. Doing the arts without absorbing at least some of those influences is like trying to swim in a river and not get wet.
Children are particularly vulnerable to spiritual influences, as Tonie discovered when teaching karate. One California karate teacher has been teaching Yoga, Native Spirituality, and Eastern philosophies to 800 children ages four to eight.8 Adults are often not much more discerning about the subtleties of such influences.
“Christian parents,” says Tonie, “why place your children in a pagan system that teaches them to kill? Why put dirty rags on your kids? All the things advocated by the martial arts schools can only be found in Christ: discipline [Hebrews 12:1-13; 2 Timothy 1:7] family togetherness, peace [John 14:27; Romans 5:1; 8:6], power [2 Timothy 1:7; Ephesians 1:19], self-control [Galatians 5:23; 1 Peter 1:13], all the fruits of the Spirit [Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 1:10]. Why be attracted to paganism? Why return to the world to get what’s in Christ? Where your heart is, there your treasure will be” (Luke 12: 30-31, 34).
So What’s Wrong with Eastern Religions?
When you think “martial arts,” what symbol comes to mind? The dragon, of course. It’s painted on studios, it covers clothing, and it’s in countless movie titles. Why is that? What does it mean?
The dragon isn’t just an interesting symbol; it represents a deep cultural worldview—a view of God and energy. Despite the enormous variety of religious ideas in human experience, there are only two basic—and utterly antagonistic—views about the dragon, and they correspond with each view’s approach to salvation and life.
Each system has its own unique view of truth, wisdom, energy, love, and harmony with God and the universe, and yet each is at war with the other. To accept one is to reject the other; you cannot serve two masters.9
The Eastern View: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism view the serpent-dragon as positive. Although these cultures differ in ways, their view of energy has basic similarities. The dragon represents a supposedly natural force that assisted in the world’s creation and exists “within” each person. Practitioners believe they can release its power (called the inner Kundalini or Ki force) through occult doctrines and techniques, many of which have been incorporated into the martial arts. This is the camp of salvation by works. It is human-centered and draws upon both human and demonic strength for its victory.
The Biblical View: The Bible exposes the serpent-dragon as Satan, an evil fallen angel, who deceived the first man and woman into sin and death: “. . . that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world.” Salvation through Jesus Christ and walking in the light with Him is the only way of escape. (See Genesis 3:1; Revelation 12; 13:2; 20:2; Ephesians 2:1–9.) This is the camp of the Lord. It is God-centered, fueled by faith in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. And it offers the only true victory.
Dangerous Techniques: Body, Breath, and Mind
The Eastern religious approach dismisses the biblical teachings about the reality of sin, the need for salvation, God’s judgment, and the need for deliverance from a powerful spiritual enemy.10 Instead, it teaches that there is an impersonal universal psycho-spiritual-physical force within each person (the Ki) that we can manipulate for personal power and wisdom. Such a concept is the heart of witchcraft. To achieve this, practitioners of this view developed occult techniques that also became, over the centuries, incorporated into the martial arts.
The Ki Force
It’s often taken for granted that releasing the Ki force refers to some kind of physical centering, like getting comfortable with yourself, but it really refers to a psychic force said to be produced by the interaction of two basic forces that supposedly comprise nature (or the Tao). These two forces, called the yin and the yang (symbolized by a sphere split by a large “S” dividing black from white), supposedly interact back and forth in a wavelike process.
In karate, the interaction of yin and yang is said to occur in attack and defense. Therefore, learning to use the Ki is viewed as very central to achievement in the martial arts. This central assumption of the nature of spiritual power has untold ramifications for the practitioner. And it can best be seen in the three areas of discipline: body, breath, and mind.
Physical discipline is the first level of training and does not necessarily have to conflict with Christian teaching, although it may. Christians are commanded not to let sin reign in their bodies but to offer them to God. Physical strengthening and self-discipline are useful but not central. And sexuality must be kept within heterosexual marriage. In the East, however, sexuality is seen as a vehicle of sexual energy, and many basic meditations center on bodily sensations alone, especially in the lower abdomen. Many techniques to arouse the Ki come from observing the snake’s writhing, sensuous movements.
Severe problems can arise when Christians are not governed by the Holy Spirit but by doctrines of demons and that demonic power. These include mental derangement, delusion, sinful, immoral behavior, and oppression by evil spirits. At the very least, a Christian cannot fully receive the Holy Spirit’s joy and power.
Besides physical discipline, practitioners also seek control of the Ki through breath control and mindlessness.
Masutatsu Oyama says, “[K]arate brings spiritual concentration which depends for its life on breathing methods.” Thus, breath control in the martial arts is far more than just a physical discipline. It is an attempt to master the Ki, to gain immortality, and to control the universe. Sound far-fetched to our Western ears? Consider the philosophy contained in “Star Wars” about the “Force.” It’s exactly the same. Such concepts from Eastern religion saturate our culture.
Mind Discipline: The dangers of mindlessness
The fundamental state of meditative practice is also the prerequisite for mastery in the martial arts—author Peter Payne.11
The technique of suspending judgment and opening one’s mind to everything is extremely widespread today—from occult educational techniques in the public schools to relaxation techniques and New Age channelers. But the goal is the same: to reach an altered state of consciousness. The Bible, however, teaches that God is not a force to manipulate. It also teaches that God has given us all we need for godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and has instructed us to be sober minded (Titus 2:6), to “receive the word with all readiness of mind” (Acts 17:11), and to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh (Galatians 5:16; 6:8). And we are to test everything and weigh all against Scripture.
The method of mindlessness is dangerous for several reasons:
1. One of Satan’s great snares is to lure a person into giving up thinking and discerning.
2. The mind will become filled with one thing or another.
3. Trying to “open” one’s mind this way is actually a form of self-hypnosis leading to a passive state that invites domination by other wills and demonic influence—and even possession. The truth is that one must enter the Eastern mystical experience—and obtain so-called control of the Ki—through a dangerous, trance-like state.
Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John14:6). The Bible says that Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man. He IS the path to God, and there is no other.
What’s more, Scripture promises us this:
His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Peter 1:3–4)
Therefore, why walk under the dragon’s system?
THE BATTLE For Which The Martial Arts HAVE NO SOLUTION
“I began to realize that ‘putting on the armor of God’ wasn’t such an easy thing,” Tonie says. “Just putting on my karate gear and quoting Ephesians 6 wasn’t going to do it—because first there was a lot of taking off to do! Greed, lust for power, position, and authority. It’s a daily, fierce battle with self, Satan, and the fallen world. It’s the kind of battle karate never prepared me for—the battle that counts the most—for the state of my soul.”
It’s the battle that Eastern religion doesn’t deal with—because it can’t. There is no sacrifice for sin, no Christ-centered system of sanctification, no true holiness. “The martial arts are man-made victory,” Tonie says. “And it’s a miserable failure. With God you work from a different foundation and fight a different battle. You begin with repentance of sin (acknowledging we are sinners who cannot save ourselves and are in need of a Savior) and new birth through faith in Jesus Christ. Then, through the power of the Holy Spirit flows the transformation of mind, emotions, will, and body. It’s just the opposite of the self-made Eastern method. There’s warfare all right, but it’s with sin, Satan, and a fallen world—and it really can’t be discerned except by God’s light.
“To those Christians who say there’s no problem training in the martial arts if you have the ‘right’ instructor, I say that, even when occult methods aren’t taught directly, enormous changes can take place training under the dragon’s image. Just the sheer hours and hours of repetitious, concentrated kicking, striking, blocking, and focusing upon becoming a powerful killing machine can deceive you into thinking you’re superior—and even godlike—and quench new life in Christ. There are many powerful, ungodly situations in the martial arts scene. The homosexual lifestyle is popular. You’re all increasing each others’ sin natures. And there’s a terrific war that goes on within yourself to be on top that’s devastating in the end. That’s not what God calls Christians to be.”
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:3–7)
The real question is not: Can I avoid spiritual influences? The real question is: Whose spiritual influences am I going to get?
The Armor of Karate Versus THE ARMOR OF GOD
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3–5)
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:11–12)
While it is true that we live in a fallen world full of physical trials and dangers, and there are times when we need to train and defend ourselves on a physical level, obviously wearing the armor of an ungodly world-system is not the answer. This is the real problem with the martial arts: the worldview hidden within it.
“To really succeed in karate, you have to go its way. Use its principles. Think its thoughts. And become its creation,” says Tonie.
“The Lord showed me that I was still depending on my karate armor rather than on Him. I hadn’t really understood how different His armor is. I saw I’d been trying to combine the two.
“I cried out, ‘Dear God, show me your way!’ And He did.”
Through His Word, we can obtain the wisdom and understanding we need to walk through life with Him:
[F]or 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? (2 Corinthians 6: 14-15)
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. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2 Corinthians 6:16-18)
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Romans 12:2)
“Through such verses, I came to see my life and my sins in the light of Jesus’ forgiveness. As I began to weep and call upon that Person Who lived and died for me, I put my complete trust in Him, and He took away my sins and gave me His armor. What a Great Exchange!
“Now I don’t believe we should become pacifists. God forbid Christians should be passive in the face of evil! But we have to use discernment and not the world’s systems to gain victory.”
Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. (Luke 10:19)
“If we let God teach us to fight His own way and direct us to the battles that He chooses, we’ll grow holier and draw closer to Him, experience more joy and love and peace, and be more able to really help others.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. (Ephesians 6:10)
“Let’s put on the whole armor of God.”
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time. . . . And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. (Revelation 12: 12, 17)
DANGERS & DECEPTIONS of The Martial Arts and Why One Woman Walked Away From a Championship Career, click here.
1. For a detailed chart of the Religious and Historical Elements in the Development of the Martial Arts, see pp. 17–19 of the book The Dark Side of Karate by Linda Nathan and Tonie Gatlin (AuthorHouse 2003).
2. Erwin De Castro, B. J. Oropeza, and Ron Rhodes, “Enter the Dragon? Wrestling With The Martial Arts Phenomenon,” Christian Research Journal (Fall 1993), pp. 26-27.
3. U.S. Industry estimates for 2000 for participants six years or older. Martial Arts Industry Association. http://web.archive.org/web/20011104064144/http://www.masuccess.com/industry/stats.htm.
4. De Castro, et. al., op., cit., p. 27. The authors of the article obtained this information from a personal interview dated 7-14–93 with Scot Conway, founder of the Christian Martial Arts Foundation.
5. Linda Atkinson, A New Spirit Rising (New York,NY: Dodd, Mead & Company, 1983), pp. 2-3. A chapter on Tonie Harris Gatlin as one of the eight leading women martial artists of the time also appears in this book.
6. De Castro, et. al., “Enter the Dragon,” op. cit., p. 27.
7. See The Dark Side of Karate, pp. 24–26, for full quotes and details.
8. John Bishop, “Karate School Queenpin: L.A.’s New Business Star Raises the Bar!” www.masuccess.com/features/barnes.htm.
9. For a complete Worldview Comparison Chart comparing the biblical and Eastern religious worldviews in six different categories (the nature of reality, the problem of evil, the nature of good and evil, the solution to evil, the nature of Jesus Christ, and the view of the serpent/dragon), see The Dark Side of Karate, Figure 7.1, p. 48.
10. See Ephesians 2.
11. Peter Payne, Martial Arts: The Spiritual Dimension (London, England: Thames and Hudson, Ltd., 1981), p. 47. Published in the United States in 1987 by Thames and Hudson, Inc., 500 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10110.
For the whole amazing story, order the book The Dark Side of Karate: The Story of Tonie Harris Gatlin by Linda Nathan and Tonie Gatlin. AuthorHouse, 2003. ISBN #9781410717665 in e-book ($3.95) and soft cover ($10.25). Call 1-888-519-5121 to order, or order online at www.AuthorHouse.com.
DANGERS & DECEPTIONS of The Martial Arts and Why One Woman Walked Away From a Championship Career, click here.
NEW BOOKLET TRACT: The “Spiritual” Truth Behind Alcoholics Anonymous—And Why Christians Should Think Twice About Joining A.A.
The “Spiritual” Truth Behind Alcoholics Anonymous written by John Lanagan is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 18 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of The “Spiritual” Truth Behind Alcoholics Anonymous, click here.
Can two walk together, except they be agreed? (Amos 3:3)
I am the Lord: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another. (Isaiah 42:8)
Christians in Alcoholics Anonymous may not see it this way, but in their participation of A.A., they are standing in agreement with a belief system that lifts up strange gods. In Alcoholics Anonymous, all gods are considered equal and are called “the higher power,” thus relegating Christ our King to commonality as if He were simply one nameless deity among many. Yet Scripture tells us:
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)
In 1941, Jack Alexander of the Saturday Evening Post wrote the article that provided A.A. its first national publicity. Describing A.A.’s “higher power,” Alexander noted the following:
[The alcoholic] “may choose to think of his Inner Self, the miracle of growth, a tree, man’s wonderment at the physical universe, the structure of the atom, or mere mathematical infinity. Whatever form is visualized, the neophyte is taught that he must rely on it and, in his own way, to pray to the Power for strength.”1
Please note that Alexander’s article, with this A.A. definition of “god,” is distributed as official Alcoholics Anonymous literature.
“God” Without the Doctrine
Nearly eighty years later this salad-bar approach—design your own god—has seemingly become a cultural norm. “Spiritual” is in. “Religion” is out. Many Americans now refer to their god as a “higher power.” A.A.’s twelve-step program (along with cultural acceptance of anti-biblical meditative practices) has literally changed the spiritual direction of the country.
In The Fall of the Evangelical Nation, author Christine Wicker credits Alcoholics Anonymous with “hastening the fall of the evangelical church.”2 Wicker notes how A.A. “slowly exposed people to the notion they could get [a god] without the dogma, the doctrine, and the outdated rules. Without the church, in fact.”3
Since the twelve steps have nothing to do with Christ, neither sin nor biblical repentance is addressed. This, of course, is very appealing to the flesh. The Steps address “wrongs,” “making amends,” and “moral inventory,” but one inserts one’s own moral code within the context of these Steps. Because of these Steps, millions believe they are right with “god” and man.
Everything, it seems, has been turned upside down: Alcoholics Anonymous can supposedly help everyone, but experiencing Christ without the twelve steps can supposedly help no one. (Sobriety without A.A. will be addressed at the end of this booklet.)
When all is said and done, A.A. attendance serves to subtly condition Christians to worship with non-believers; perhaps this has been the point all along.
It is written:
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? . . . Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. (2 Corinthians 6:14-15, 17)
Obviously, we are not separating. Christians participate in A.A.’s Christ-less corporate prayers every day.
A Spiritual Program
For decades, A.A. has been referred to as a “spiritual program,” a harmless adjunct to one’s own religious belief system. Because of this misrepresentation, most Christians are sincerely unaware that A.A. is a subtrend of the New Age.
Richard Rohr, a Catholic priest and renowned advocate for New Age type meditation practices says this of A.A.:
The spirituality of Alcoholics Anonymous will go down in history as the significant and authentic contribution to the history of spirituality. It is genuinely a spirituality.4
In A.A.’s twelve step program, anything and everything—from spirits to inner divinity—can be worshiped as “god.” One of A.A.’s Big Book teachings is that God can only be found within ourselves.5 A.A.’s belief system by no means requires dealing with sin—or the Savior.
In order to comprehend the hold A.A. exerts upon people, it must be understood that two key passages in the A.A. Big Book (essentially the A.A. “bible”) are interpreted from a literal, fundamentalist perspective. Here is what is read to alcoholics at the beginning of every single meeting:
Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way.”6
The Big Book goes on to note, “We thought we could find an easier, softer way. But we could not.”7
Despite the elasticity of the higher power, these two fundamentalist passages lock many into the A.A. system while also teaching contempt or distrust for alternative ways of gaining sobriety. Particularly opposed is the idea of getting help in “church.”
Irving Peter Gellman observes:
A member who suggests that A.A. is not as effective as maintained, and who implies that some improvement might be made, will be censured when broaching these ideas. The A.A. program is deemed infallible, whereas other methods are considered less than perfect.8
Christians in the program often adjust their theology. In a pastor’s office, an A.A. Christian told me straight faced that alcoholics were too angry and didn’t want to hear about Christ, so the “higher power” concept was necessary. This is simply one more repetition of what I have heard at many, many A.A. meetings.
A.A. has given us the confusion of recovery passing for sanctification, and twelve-step theology has some Christians in A.A. believing it is perfectly fine to encourage alcoholics to go ahead and make up a “god.” To help justify attendance in this non-biblical spirituality, the myth has been promulgated that most alcoholics with custom-designed higher powers will eventually come to Christ. This is simply not so. It is relatively rare but is presented as a common occurrence. This claim is one of the primary ways Christians justify A.A.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, most Christians experience a transference of faith. The twelve-step experience often becomes an idol. It is not uncommon to speak with Christians who are more concerned with “recovery” than sanctification and who demonstrate a preference for A.A. rather than the fellowship with the saints.
[A]nd them that worship and that swear by the Lord, and that swear by Malcham. (Zephaniah 1:5)
Over the past couple of decades there have been numerous U.S. lower and higher court cases where it was determined that A.A. is a religious organization.* An A.A. meeting is essentially a devotional service. The “higher power” receives praise and worship; confession is heard; testimony is given; the group invokes the Serenity Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer. The 12th Step instructs A.A. members to go forth and Spread the Word.
Whether one calls it religious or spiritual, the bottom line is that millions have been taught to reach outside (or inside) of themselves and draw on a higher power to give them strength.
Lost in all this is the holiness of the God of the Bible—the God who absolutely does not want His people placing Him amongst false idols. Lost—ignored, really—is the Lord’s abhorrence of worship of false gods. Was Jeremiah mistaken? King Josiah? Do biblical passages such as 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 and Galatians 1:8-9 fail to address Alcoholics Anonymous?
A.A.’s “All-Inclusive” God
Alcoholics Anonymous is spiritual in origin; it was created to point unbelievers away from Christ and to dilute the theology of the Christians who do attend the meetings.
A simple perusal of the A.A. Big Book demonstrates how A.A. teaching opposes Christ. The A.A. Big Book states:
We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us, the Realm of the Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive; never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all men. When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God.”9 (emphasis added)
And yet, the Lord specifically warns against the broad way:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. (Matthew 7:13)
If the Lord warns against the broad way of spirituality, why do we think we know better? Why would we even want to participate in such a thing or give it credibility by approving of it?
Hurting alcoholics who do not know the Lord also learn, through meetings and the A.A. Big Book, that they do not need Christ in order to have a relationship with God. According to the Big Book:
[A]ll of us, whatever our race, creed, or color are children of a living Creator with whom we may form a relationship upon simple and understandable terms as soon as we are willing and honest enough to try.10
Speaking from personal experience, this is how it is presented to alcoholics in the meetings—that one can simply reach out to “god,” and there he/she/it will be. Thus have many been pointed away from the biblical God because of A.A. Without Christ, we can never have a relationship or spend eternity with God the Father.
Some Disturbing History of A.A.
How did this happen? How did Christians get so involved with Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs? Unfortunately, writers such as pro-A.A. author Dick B. have been churning out books and articles about the alleged Christian roots of A.A. and the twelve steps for years. This has influenced many.
According to the Alcoholics Anonymous website, “the origins of Alcoholics Anonymous can be traced to the Oxford Group,”11 an ecumenical movement of the 1930s. Oxford’s founder, Frank Buchman, said “he never touched any doctrine in any of his meetings, as he did not want to upset or offend anyone.”12
The great preacher Dr. H.A. Ironside warned that the Oxford Group:
. . . appeals to people who reject the inspiration of [the Bible] as well to those who profess to believe it; it appeals to people who deny the Deity of Christ as well as to those who acknowledge it; to those who deny the eternal punishment of sin as well as those who believe in it. Here in our city it is openly endorsed by the Swedenborgians and by leaders of the Unitarians, as well as by a number who belong to orthodox churches. But it is silent about the blood of Christ.13
Dr. Ironside also warned about the Oxford Group’s unholy meditation (emptying the mind) which often culminated in the practice of automatic writing:
Each one is urged in the morning to sit down quietly with the mind emptied of every thought, generally with a pencil in hand, waiting for God to say something to them. They wait and wait and wait. Sometimes they tell me nothing happens, at other times the most amazing things come. Tested by the Word of God many of these things are unscriptural. They lay themselves open for demons to communicate their blasphemous thoughts to them.14 (emphasis added)
This appears to have been the method A.A. co-founder (and former Oxford Group member) Bill Wilson used to receive the twelve steps. T.A. McMahon, chief editor at The Berean Call ministry, writes, “A.A.’s official biography indicates Bill Wilson received the details of the 12 Steps through spirit dictation.”15
While some insist A.A. has a Christian or biblical origin, Alcoholics Anonymous is like a pie. One can claim it is made with lemon meringue ingredients, but if tar, rat poison, and glass shards are also in the mix, is it ever really a lemon meringue pie? “[A] little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (1 Corinthians 5:6).
The Spiritual Proclivities of A.A.’s Founders
Factors affecting A.A.’s formation must include: A.A. co-founders Bill Wilson’s and Dr. Bob Smith’s biblically forbidden spiritualism, Dr. Bob’s freemasonry, the meditative silence/spirit communication learned from the Oxford Group, and the anti-biblical teachings of William James and New Thought heretic Emmet Fox.
The A.A. co-founders attended the Oxford Group separately before they met and together during 1935, which is the official starting date of Alcoholics Anonymous. During this time, Smith and Wilson were delving deeply into biblically forbidden spiritualism, which Wilson continued to practice for decades.
Early A.A. member Tom Powers saw the A.A. co-founders firsthand as they engaged in spiritualistic practices the Lord detests. “Now, these people, Bill and Bob, believed vigorously and aggressively. They were working away at the spiritualism; it was not just a hobby.”16
There are a number of Bill Wilson’s spiritualistic experiences documented in his official A.A. biography. Wilson wrote:
The ouija board got moving in earnest. What followed was the fairly usual experience—it was a strange mélange of Aristotle, St. Francis, diverse archangels with odd names, deceased friends—some in purgatory and others doing nicely, thank you! There were malign and mischievous ones of all descriptions, telling of vices quite beyond my ken, even as former alcoholics. Then, the seemingly virtuous entities would elbow them out with messages of comfort, information, advice—and sometimes just sheer nonsense.17
There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord (Deuteronomy 18:10-12)
A.A. and New Thought Emmet Fox
The co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous were also admirers of Emmet Fox and his heretical New Thought/New Age book, The Sermon on the Mount. This book was used in early A.A. before A.A.’s own Big Book was published. As pro-AA author Dick B. acknowledges, “[Fox’s] writings were favored by [A.A. co-founders] Bill W. and Dr. Bob.”18
Why is this significant that A.A. founders resonated with Emmet Fox? In The Sermon on the Mount, Fox teaches:
The “Plan of Salvation” which figured so prominently in the evangelical sermons and divinity books of a past generation is as completely unknown to the Bible as the Koran. There never was any such an arrangement in the universe, and the Bible does not teach it at all.19
Fox’s book bristles with teachings that sincere Christians would not be able to embrace at all.
According to Fox’s The Sermon on the Mount:
[In] the Bible the term “Christ” is not identical with Jesus, the individual. It is a technical term which may be briefly defined as the Absolute Spiritual Truth about anything.20
The plain fact is that Jesus taught no theology whatever.21
With regard to the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, Fox says it “was never intended by its author to be taken as history, but literal-minded people did so take it, with all sorts of absurd consequences.”22
Bob Smith has been portrayed for years as a biblical Christian. Yet, according to a woman quoted in A.A.’s official biography of Dr. Bob, “The first thing [Dr. Bob] did was get me Emmet Fox’s The Sermon on the Mount.”23 A Bible-believing Christian would never place such heresy in a hurting alcoholic’s hands.
Like the Gnostics, Emmet Fox was a purveyor of special secret knowledge. He writes:
Wonderful as the “outer” Bible is, it is far less than one percent of the “inner” Bible—the Bible that is hidden behind the symbols. If you have been reading the Bible without the spiritual interpretation, you have not found the real message of the Bible, for that lies below the surface.24
Fox’s influence should always be considered when one hears of references to the Bible in early AA. People assume, logically enough, that if the co-founders were mentioning the Word of God, this must mean they were Christians. Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith probably viewed the Bible along the lines of Fox’s esoteric spiritual wisdom rather than believing it to be the literal Word of God. One cannot, after all, promote anti-biblical heresy and simultaneously believe and obey the Word of God.
As you can see, Alcoholics Anonymous has anything but a fundamental biblical or Christian origin. Spiritualism, New Thought, and contemplative prayer (meditation) are three factors that must be acknowledged.
Spiritually Deceptive Meditation Practices
As previously noted, A.A.’s twelve-step program (along with anti-biblical meditative practices) has literally changed the spiritual direction of the country.
What is meant by the term anti-biblical meditative practices? This refers to Eastern and New Age meditation but also to contemplative prayer, which is New Age meditation disguised with “Christianese” terminology.
In true biblical meditation, the mind remains active. We ponder, we consider, and think about the Scripture we have read. This can be a wonderful and profound time with the holy God.
This is not so with Eastern/New Age/contemplative. Here the object is to stop active thought, often by repeating a word or phrase over and over. When thought is stilled, the person enters what is known as the silence, and it is here that incredible spiritual deception can occur. This can affect and even determine one’s theology, a frightening thing considering all the “Christian contemplative” activity in churches these days.
These practices are rampant throughout our culture. The potential—and actuality—toward such spiritually deceptive meditation exists within A.A.’s Step 11:
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
“Meditation is something that can always be further developed. It has no boundaries, either of width or height,” wrote A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson.25
The actual experience of meditation and prayer across the centuries is, of course, immense. The world’s libraries and places of worship are a treasure trove for all seekers.26
In other words, Wilson was open to meditative knowledge wherever it could be found—whether in Hinduism, Buddhism, distant libraries, the local Catholic church, or anywhere else.
This is an overall belief in twelve-step theology—there are absolutely no boundaries when it comes to defining the “higher power.”
This undefined “God” is meant, of course, to help. Tormented people, in the grasp of some overwhelming bondage, enter a twelve-step group and are told they must turn to a higher power. It doesn’t matter what you believe in, they are told, but it is crucial you believe in something.
So they do. They choose a spirit, perhaps, or a self-designed deity, or decide to worship the universe, or St. Jerome, or virtually anything else. But they surely reach out to something.
Then, when they reach Step 11, they seek through prayer and meditation even deeper communion with whatever idol–or entity–they have invited into their lives. As instructed, they ask for knowledge—what does the deity want them to do? They ask for power—and some enter the silence.
The revered Bill Wilson encouraged people to meditate. He stated, “Meditation is our step out into the sun.”27
Historically, around the world, much has been experienced in the meditative silence: bliss, spirit-guides, a higher self, oneness. And there have been false christs, wrapped in shining deception, communicating instructions and “wisdom” to some.
And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14)
One God Among Many “Higher Powers”?
When it comes to A.A.’s “Christian” roots, God’s people have been—to use a technical term—snookered.
Scripture is clear. We were never meant to be part of an all-gods religion. It is not “legalism” to point out that the Lord will absolutely not be seen as one higher power among many. It is not “legalistic” to state that His people are absolutely to remain separate from non-Christian spirituality. (2 Corinthians 6:14-17, Galatians 1:8-9, Isaiah 42:8, 1 John 4:1-3, 2 John 9-11, Matthew 10:32-36, 1 John 2:23, John 14:6)
We should no more participate in A.A. because of alcohol addiction than we should attend the Mormon church to get help with family issues.
Bluntly stated, many Christians have ended up with more faith in the power of the twelve-step program than in Jesus Christ. We have disobeyed the Scriptures, and we are bearing the consequences.
If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)
What, then, is a Christian to do? Bondage to alcohol is no light thing. It is important to understand that drunkards were set free in the early days of the church (1 Corinthians 6: 9-11). The power of Christ is just as available to us today.
A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson came to understand that many alcoholics—those who truly wanted to quit drinking—could not be helped by Alcoholics Anonymous. Wilson spent many years looking for effective alternatives,28 but alcoholics in A.A. meetings are never informed about this.
An article in Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education notes the following:
Cochrane Database conducted a systematic review of randomized controlled trials evaluating the effectiveness of AA and other Twelve-Step programs (labeled Twelve Step Facilitation or TSF). Eight studies were included in the review, and, of these, three evaluated AA programs. The conclusions of this review were that “no experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA or TSF approaches for reducing alcohol dependence or problem.” (Ferri, Amato, & Davoli, 2006)”29 (emphasis added)
People have the right to know A.A.’s success rate is limited. The body of Christ has the right to know that sending people into A.A. violates Scripture, points unbelievers away from Christ, and waters down essential theology of the Christian faith.
There are powerful Christian options such as Teen Challenge and the online ministry, Setting Captives Free. There is another totally biblical approach called The Most Excellent Way founded by a husband and wife who were alcoholics. They left A.A. and sought the Lord over how to help others.
Churches that allow the Holy Spirit to work in people’s lives will see people freed from addiction (bondage to sin). My church has fellowship once a week for those who are struggling. We already have the weapons to fight: the indwelling of the Holy Spirit when we are born again into Jesus Christ, prayer, and His Word. In fact, the Bible tells us we have armor that we can wear when battling against the flesh, sin, and the works of darkness.
Therefore . . . let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. (1 Thessalonians 5:6-8, emphasis added)
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil . . . Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. (Ephesians 6:11, 16)
We look to the Bible to understand the sheer power of God: His holiness, His love, and His grace and mercy.
We do not downplay His hatred of sin. We rejoice in His faithfulness.
Nor do we overlook simple common sense—but we start first with His Word and go from there.
The Word of God will pierce even the hardest heart. It is time to stop relying on Alcoholics Anonymous and obscure “higher powers,” and on mystical meditative practices, and start depending—truly depending—on the supremacy of Jesus Christ.
. . . That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith. (Ephesians 3:16-17)
To order copies of The “Spiritual” Truth Behind Alcoholics Anonymous, click here.
The editors of Lighthouse Trails and John Lanagan are in no way minimizing the importance of those with addictive behaviors in getting help. But what we advocate and encourage is Christ-centered help (based on the Word of God). Two places that offer this (and there are others) are:
The Most Excellent Way—http://www.tmewcf.org.
* I have documented several of these cases on my website at: http://mywordlikefire.com/2014/06/12/alcoholics-anonymous-narcotics-anonymous-established-as-religious-in-court-cases.
1. Jack Alexander, “Alcoholics Anonymous: Freed Slaves of Drink, Now They Free Others” (Saturday Evening Post, March 1, 1941). According to the A.A. website, A.A. World Services publishes the article in pamphlet format and sells about 22,000 of them each year; http://www.aa.org/lang/en/subpage.cfm?page=472.
2. Christine Wicker, The Fall of the Evangelical Nation (Harper-Collins Publishers, 2008) pp. 133-138.
5. Alcoholics Anonymous (nicknamed the Big Book) published by A.A. World Services, Inc., 1939), p. 55.
6. Ibid., p. 58.
7. Ibid., p. 58.
8. Irving Peter Gellman, The Sober Alcoholic (College and University Press, 1964), p. 121.
9. Alcoholics Anonymous, op. cit., pp. 46-47.
10. Ibid., p. 28.
12. William C. Irvine, Heresies Exposed (New York: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc., 1921), p. 54.
13. H.A. Ironside, The Oxford Group: Is It Scriptural? (New York: Loizeauz Brothers, Publishers,1943), http://web.archive.org/web/20110424094418/http://aabibliography.com/oxford_group_is_it_scriptural_ha_ironside.html.
15. T.A. McMahon, “Where’s Your Head . . . and Your Heart?” (The Berean Call newsletter, March 1, 2002), http://www.thebereancall.org/content/wheres-your-headand-your-heart.
16. Pass It On: The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1984), p. 280.
17. Ibid., p. 278.
18. Alcoholics Anonymous History, Dick B.’s Early A.A. Resources, http://silkworth.net/dickb/earlyresources.html.
19. Emmet Fox, The Sermon on the Mount (HarperCollins, 1934), pp. 4-5.
20. Ibid., p. 124.
21. Ibid., p. 3.
22. Ibid., p. 13.
23. Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.), p. 310.
24. Herman Wolhorn, Emmet Fox’s Golden Keys To Successful Living (Harper & Row, 1977), p. 59.
25. Bill Wilson, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1953), p. 101.
26. Ibid., p. 98.
28. Pass It On, op. cit., p. 370.
29. Journal of Alcohol and Drug Education, December 2010, http://www.questia.com/library/p572/journal-of-alcohol-drug-education.
John Lanagan is a researcher and writer whom the Lord has rescued from alcohol addiction. He resides with his wife in the Great Northwest and his primary subject is the anti-biblical origin and nature of Alcoholics Anonymous. You can visit him on the web at: http://mywordlikefire.com.
To order copies of The “Spiritual” Truth Behind Alcoholics Anonymous, click here.