Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Churches Going Contemplative with Diana Butler Bass’ Book, “Christianity For the Rest of Us”

A Lighthouse Trails reader sent us an article this week from a Pacific Northwest newspaper* describing how members of a local church are changing the way they practice church and view Christianity, doing away with their traditional church methods and embracing what they call a “contemplative approach.” The article states that they were inspired, in part, to go in this direction from reading Diana Butler Bass’ book Christianity for the Rest of Us. 

It’s no wonder a church would head in the contemplative direction if congregants are turning to Butler Bass for spiritual nourishment. You may recall a Lighthouse Trails article in November of 2015 about Diana Butler Bass titled “New Spirituality Teacher Says ‘The Jig is Up’ to Those Who Believe in ‘the Blood of the Lamb.'”  Bass is a contemplative proponent, and like so many of her contemplative constituents who wander into the contemplative prayer world, her views toward the Cross and the atonement have become outright hostile; and those who adhere to the “blood of the lamb” and who cling to the old rugged Cross are seen as an enemy and hindrance to world peace and “restoration.”

Christianity for the Rest of Us is filled with the ideologies of contemplatives, emergents, and socialist-like figures such as  Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Eddie Gibbs, Marcus Borg, Joan Chittister, Parker Palmer, and her “friend” Brian McLaren. A prevailing theme in the book is “sitting in silence,” meditation, and contemplation. She says things like:

People need silence to find their way back to interior wisdom. They need a recovery of the contemplative arts of “thinking, meditating, ruminating.” (Kindle Locations 1789-1790).

True knowledge of the self, of love and meaning, comes only in silence. (Kindle Locations 1795-1796).

If this and other churches continue following the same path as Diana Butler Bass, they may also begin to embrace her view that “the jig is up” to those who believe in the “blood of the lamb.” Below is the article we wrote in 2015. If your church is reading books by authors such as Diana Butler Bass, please urge them to reconsider what they are doing.

New Spirituality Teacher Says “The Jig is Up” to Those Who Believe in “the Blood of the Lamb”

Every now and then something come along that presents our case in such a succinct and obvious way that we are compelled to share it with our readers with the hope it will leave no question as to how serious the present situation is with regard to Christianity in the Western world. Religious author Diana Butler Bass, who was one of the speakers at the [2015] Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City, has written a book titled Christianity After Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening. In it, she makes the stunning statement:

Conventional, comforting Christianity has failed. It does not work. For the churches that insist on preaching it, the jig is up. We cannot go back, and we should not want to. . . . In earlier American awakenings, preachers extolled “old-time religion” as the answer to questions about God, morality, and existence. This awakening is different . . . it is not about sawdust trails, mortification of sin [putting to death the old man], and being washed in the blood of the Lamb [the preaching of the Cross – emphasis ours]. The awakening going on around us is not an evangelical revival; it is not returning to the faith of our fathers or re-creating our grandparents church. Instead, it is a Great Returning to ancient understandings of the human quest for the divine. (pp. 36, 99).

Contrast this with 2 Corinthians 5: 18-21, which states:

And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;  to wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

It could not be any more clear what’s at stake here. The term “the jig is up” is a slang term that has the connotation of someone being caught at doing something wrong. It has an intrinsically militant tone that is more or less saying “you’re not going to get away with this any longer.” By Butler Bass saying “the jig is up,” there is an underlying implication of a mounting consensus that backs up that statement, such as what Ray Yungen and others we know recently witnessed at the Parliament of the World’s Religions, where 14,000 people attended and where a clear animosity toward biblical Christians was prevalent.

Inside Diana Butler Bass’ book that so openly rejects the Cross and the atonement are the following glowing endorsements of people you have probably heard of:

She’s spot-on prophetic, compelling, and most important, hopeful. —Rob Bell, author of Love Wins

Join her in rebuilding religion from the bottom up!—Richard Rohr, O.F.M., Center for Action and Contemplation and author of Falling Upward

She has a good nose to sniff out crappy religion, but she also has the eyes to see new life budding from the compost of Christendom. Shane Claiborne, mentored by Tony Campolo

Diana Butler Bass has a keen eye for what is happening in the Christian world these days— so keen, she is able to see through the bad news for the good news that is emerging. Parker Palmer

Bass as one of our foremost commentators on twenty-first century Christianity.—Marcus Borg

I expect (and hope) that this will be the must-read ‘church book’ for every Christian leader— clergy and lay— for years to come.” —Brian D. McLaren, author of A New Kind of Christianity and Naked Spirituality

We hope our readers will pass this information onto to many they know and pray it may jolt quite a number of people out of complacency or even skepticism into the realization that what we’ve been reporting on these past nearly 14 years is actually occurring.

What Butler Bass refers to as the “ancient understandings of the human quest for the divine” is what the apostle Paul called the mystery of iniquity. This is where man is deceived by familiar spirits (demons) into believing that man is God.

And when it comes to the preaching of the Cross, Diana Butler Bass, Marcus Borg, Brian McLaren, Richard Rohr, and Shane Claiborne are wrong. On the contrary to what they believe, the preaching of the Cross DOES work. People ARE reconciled to God when they are washed in the blood of the lamb. In other words, they’re not just wrong, they are terribly tragically wrong.

And they [the saints of Jesus Christ] overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. (Revelation 12:11)


*Note: Because our reader is hoping to reach out to this church with some information, we are not naming the church or the city.

“After Yoga, Meditation Breaks Into the Mainstream”

LTRP Note: The following news story is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement of the content (but rather as a warning):

By Catherine Triomphe
Agence France Presse
(from the Daily Star)

NEW YORK: It is 5 p.m., otherwise known as rush hour in Manhattan. Julia Lyons, 31, finishes work and heads straight for her daily dose of peace and quiet – half an hour at meditation studio “Mndfl.” Since April 2016, when she discovered the studio, the investment bank employee has abandoned yoga and embraced meditation.

“I have been meditating pretty regularly – probably five times a week, 30-minute sessions,” says Lyons, sipping a cup of tea on the studio’s sofa.

“I just need a moment to chill out. This city – you are always running place to place and there are not a lot of quiet spaces,” she explains. “I think it’s made me a lot happier and also just helped me make better decisions, more thoughtful decisions.”

Practiced by millions around the world, meditation promotes mental well-being through concentration, breathing techniques and self-awareness. For a long time, those singing its praises were intellectuals, celebrities or people dedicated to spirituality.  Click here to continue reading.

Related Information:

Mindfulness, Meditation Techniques Being Used in Public School Classrooms Across County on 750,000 Students

 

*Photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission.

Revealing Quotes by Influential Contemplatives

These revealing quotes are from well-known figures who have significantly influenced the religious landscape in today’s culture. Sadly, they have helped to mislead millions with their promotion of contemplative prayer (a mystical, panentheistic-rooted practice).

Shalem Prayer Institute
“This mystical stream [contemplative prayer and other monastic traditions] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality.”—Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend, p. 18.

Gerald May/Brother Lawrence
“. . . a little phrase that Love inspires,” letting a word, phrase or image repeat itself quietly deep inside us as we go through our daily activities.”—Gerald May, quoting Brother Lawrence – “Contemplative Spiritual Formation: Going Deeper”

Rick Warren
“With practice, you can develop the habit of praying silent ‘breath prayers'” – Rick Warren, from his book, The Purpose Driven Life (p. 299)

“[U]se ‘breath prayers’ throughout the day, as many Christians have done for centuries. You choose a brief sentence or a simple phrase that can be repeated to Jesus in one breath.”—Rick Warren,
Purpose Driven Life, p. 89.

Ken Blanchard
“Does Buddha have anything to offer non-Buddhists in the workplace? My answer is a wholehearted, ‘Yes.’—Ken Blanchard, co-author of the One Minute Manager, from the foreword and front cover of What Would Buddha Do in the Workplace?

Bruce Wilkinson
“We have promoted an unbiblical message that becoming born-again is the answer to everything. It’s not. It changes your eternity, but it doesn’t change your sexual behavior, for instance. The gospel does not always have the answer for modern-day dilemmas.” – JOY! magazine, the South African counterpart to Charisma, in April 2004

From Youth Specialties
“I built myself a prayer room—a tiny sanctuary in a basement closet filled with books on spiritual disciplines, contemplative prayer, and Christian mysticism. In that space I lit candles, burned incense, hung rosaries, and listened to tapes of Benedictine monks. I meditated for hours on words, images, and sounds. I reached the point of being able to achieve alpha brain patterns…”—Mike Perschon, Youth Specialties Magazine, December 2004

“Choose a sacred word or phrase. Consistently use the same word throughout the prayer. Begin silently to repeat your sacred word or phrase.” – Mark Yaconelli, Youth Specialties National Pastor’s Convention (source)

Charisma Magazine
“Spiritual ecstasy. The third phase of contemplative prayer … a supernatural trance state …” – Charisma magazine, Oct. 2004

Brennan Manning
“Contemplative prayer is nothing other than coming into consciousness of what is already there.” – Brennan Manning, Signature of Jesus, p. 197

Larry Crabb
“Brennan (Manning) is my friend, walking ahead of me on the path toward home. As I watch him from behind, I am drawn to more closely follow on the path…” – Larry Crabb, endorsement of Abba’s Child (source)

Henri Nouwen
“Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.” – Sabbatical Journey (the last book Nouwen wrote), p. 51, hardcover edition

“The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart.” – Way of the Heart, p. 81.

Ruth Haley Barton
“Ask for a simple prayer to express your willingness to meet God in the silence … a simple statement …such as “Here I am.” … Help yourself return to your original intent by repeating the prayer that you have chosen.” – Discipleship Journal, Vol. 113 1999

John Michael Talbot
“I began practicing meditation, specifically breath prayer, once again. I integrated the use of Tai Chi and yoga.” – John Michael Talbot, Interview with Christianity Today 10/22/2001

Shakti Gawain
“Its [visualization] effect is to dissolve our internal barriers to natural harmony and self realization.” – Shakti Gawain, Creative Visualization, p. 6.

Richard Foster
“[Y]ou and I may have strong opinions on double predestination, supralapsarianism, and biblical inerrancy, but these should not be considered evangelical essentials.” – Streams of Living Water, Kindle location 3914

Matthew Fox
“We need to become aware of the Cosmic Christ, which means recognizing that every being has within it the light of Christ.” – Steve Turner interviewing Matthew Fox, “Natural Mystic?” (Nine O Clock Service, March 1995)

“Everyone is born a mystic and a lover who experiences the unity of things and all are called to keep this mystic or lover of life alive.” (source)

Beth Moore
“[I]f we are not still before Him [God], we will never truly know to the depths of the marrow of our bones that He is God. There’s got to be a stillness.” – from the Be Still DVD, an infomercial for contemplative prayer (source)

Jack Canfield, Chicken Soup for the Soul
“What works for me is a combination of disciplines: I do yoga, tai chi which is a Chinese martial art and three kinds of meditation—vipasana, transcendental and mantra (sound) meditation.” – from Choosing to be Happy

Thomas Merton
“Isn’t it a pity that people are going into LSD to have spiritual experiences, when we have a tradition in the Church [contemplative prayer] which no one knows anything about?” (source)

M. Basil Pennington
“When we go to the center of our being and pass through that center into the very center of God we get in immediate touch with this divine creating energy … that the divine energy may have the freedom to forward the evolution of consciousness in us and through us, as a part of the whole, in the whole of the creation.” – An Invitation to Centering Prayer

Thomas Keating
“My acquaintance with eastern methods of meditation has convinced me that … there are ways of calming the mind in the spiritual disciplines of both the east and the west [and] many serious seekers of truth study the eastern religions.” – Open Mind, Open Heart, p. 29

Pope John Paul
“Pick out a word or two. Tell your children to sit quietly and repeat the word in their heads—not thinking about the word, just repeating it.” – Everyday Catholic newsletter, Nov. 2001

The Emerging Church
“The first time I introduced this, the kids came in, and I had a candle going and a little incense burning and some Gregorian chant music on the CD player” – Tony Jones, from interview with editor Jeff Bailey, Cutting Edge magazine, pp. 15-22.

“Some of the values of the emerging church are an emphasis on emotions, global outlook, a rise in the use of arts, and a rise in mysticism and spirituality.”—Josh Reich, Youth Specialties, “Creating Worship Gatherings for the Emerging Church” 

“We’re rediscovering Christianity as an Eastern religion, as a way of life.”– Rob Bell, “The Emergent Mystique,” Christianity Today, Nov. 1, 2004

The Impact of Practical Mystics versus Cults

By Ray Yungen
(Author of A Time of Departing)

Evangelical scholar David L. Smith correctly assessed the powerful, yet subtle, impact New Age spirituality is having on society when he made the following observations:

Not since Gnosticism at the dawn of the Christian era has there arisen a philosophy as pervasive and threatening to orthodox Christianity as the New Age movement . . . It would be difficult to find any area of life, which has not been touched or redirected to some degree by the concepts of this movement.1

bigstockphoto

Smith recognizes that, rather than just a small segment, the overall social fabric of society is being impacted. This movement has clearly evolved well past the subculture stage into something much more dynamic and sophisticated. This stunning change has been brought about by the rise of a new breed of mystic—one that presents mysticism as a complement to secular goals and one that is adept at easing the public’s natural impulse to reject the strange and unfamiliar. Some examples of this are:

A prominent, influential speaker and seminar leader, Brian Tracy, promotes the use of the “superconscious mind” (i.e., the higher self), “to improve productivity, performance and output” in the corporate world.2

An article in one major Pacific Northwest newspaper features a large color picture of a local university professor in a classic Zen Buddhist meditation pose. He has not joined the Buddhist religion but is trying to reverse his heart condition through Eastern meditation.3

A popular morning talk show entices viewers with the promise of “how to get along with your spouse.” The show then features popular New Age author Wayne Dyer exhorting viewers to “go into the silence for guidance” when they get angry with their mate[s].4

These are just a few examples of what could be called secular mysticism or generic mysticism, meditation practiced not for religious reasons but as a tool to improve life. Many Christians have a difficult time comprehending this concept. They have been trained to think in terms of cults such as the Mormons (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) or the Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses). But these groups are rather limited in their impact because, even if they become sizable, they remain only isolated islands in society. The advantage practical mystics have is that they only have to piggyback a seemingly benevolent meditation method onto whatever programs they are promoting—in other words, they do not have to proselytize people to a dogma, only a practice.

New Age publisher Jeremy Tarcher spoke of this challenge in an interview. Speaking of practical mystics he explained: “They have to learn to present their perceptions in appropriate language and actions that don’t arouse fear or resistance.”5

Because of their success at this effort, one writer declared that interest in meditation was currently exploding. This explosion in Western culture is unprecedented and very real.

In the West, mysticism had always been restricted to a tiny fraction of the population (i.e., shamans, esoteric brotherhoods, and small spiritually elite groups). Never before has there been a widespread teaching of these methods to everyone. Now, mysticism pervades the Western world. How did this happen?

The first such book to reach a broad audience was Creative Visualization by Shakti Gawain. This book could rightfully be called a practical mystic’s bible. Many people can trace their first involvement in metaphysics to this book. Since its publication in 1978, it has sold millions of copies and has influenced the fields of psychology, health, business, and athletics.6

The book became so popular because it addresses such topics as creativity, career goals, relationships, better health, and simple relaxation and peacefulness. Who wouldn’t want to have all this, especially if all it takes is engaging in a simple practice?

Gawain spells out very clearly what that practice entails. She teaches her readers:

Almost any form of meditation will eventually take you to an experience of yourself as source, or your higher self . . . Eventually you will start experiencing certain moments during your meditation when there is a sort of “click” in your consciousness and you feel like things are really working; you may even experience a lot of energy flowing through you or a warm radiant glow in your body. These are signs that you are beginning to channel the energy of your higher self.7

There had been books like hers before, but those appealed to people already in the New Age subculture. This wasn’t true of Creative Visualization. This book had just the right secular slant on something inherently spiritual. Gawain believed that one could stay a Jew, Catholic, or Protestant and still practice the teachings of the book. All you were doing was developing yourself, not changing your religion.

Gawain was merely the forerunner of what has become a flood of such books. A more recent book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, which is about the “spiritual path to higher creativity,”27 has sold over two million copies.

A good example of this approach was a business in a major West Coast city that sold books, tapes, and videos on stress reduction. The owners were very active in their community. Doctors, therapists, and teachers came to them for help. They gave talks to school faculties, major corporations, and all the major hospitals in their city. Their clientele tended to be affluent, well-educated professionals and business people who were interested in personal growth.

Yet, along with stress reduction and self-improvement, another element was subtly present—spiritual awareness. One of the owners wrote how she attended a powerful workshop with “Lazaris” and discovered that his techniques were “practical and useful.”8 That does not sound too extraordinary at first glance—however, Lazaris is not a person but a spirit guide!

Because of the stereotypes about people who gravitate toward mystical experiences (such as counterculture types), we may tend to assume people associated with these practices have strange personalities or are in other ways offbeat. On the contrary, these individuals are professional, articulate, conservatively dressed, and above all, extremely personable. They are positive and likeable. A newspaper reporter who did an article on one of them told me, “She is one of the most calm, serene persons I have ever met.” The reporter added, “People want what she has!”

The health, self-help, and recovery sections of secular bookstores are now saturated with New Age metaphysical books. Christian columnist Terry Mattingly summed up the situation brilliantly when he observed: “The New Age didn’t crest, it soaked in . . . It is now the dominant theme in commercial bookstores.”9 If the self-help and personal growth sections of most secular commercial bookstores were examined, the only conclusion to come away with would be that New Age mysticism is the prominent spiritual viewpoint of this country.

A case in point: One day while strolling through a shopping mall, I noticed a New Age bookstore and a secular bookstore just around the corner from each other. Upon examination, it was clear the secular bookstore had far more New Age books than the New Age bookstore did—hundreds more. Moreover, the vast majority were not in the New Age section but in the self-help, health, and other sections. Thus, New Age bookstores have almost been rendered obsolete by the explosion of practical mystic books stocked in traditional bookstores.

This is not an understatement or scare-tactic conjecture. Take a look at book sales for some of the major New Age authors around today. Just the top two, Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra, have sold fifty million books between them. James Redfield, the author of The Celestine Prophecy, can boast of a staggering twenty million books sold, and Neale Donald Walsch, the channeler of Conversations with God, a paltry seven million.10
The basic message of these books and hundreds of others like them could be reduced to one simple word, a word that cries out a uniform consistent theme—meditate! That is to say, you’re not going to get anywhere in this life unless you get that “click” that Gawain spoke of earlier and to do it, you must meditate.

If you think the New Age movement is a colorful assortment of strange cults populated by free-spirited aging hippies and assorted oddballs who are being duped by money-hungry charlatans and egocentric frauds, then think again. We are not dealing with fringe religious groups or chanting flower-children anymore but with a broad-based concerted effort to influence and restructure our whole society. (Excerpt from A Time of Departing, chapter 1)

Notes:
1. David L. Smith, A Handbook of Contemporary Theology (Victor Books, 1992), p. 273.
2. Brian Tracy, Maximum Achievement (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1993), pp. 179, 17.
3. “Change of Heart,” (The Sunday Oregonian, September 19, 1993), p. L1.
4. AM Northwest Morning Talk Show, KATU Channel 2, Portland, OR, Interview with Wayne Dyer, March 27, 1997.
5. Jeremy Tarcher, “Living with Vision” (Science of Mind, April 1, 1992), p. 44.
6. Shakti Gawain, Creative Visualization (Novato, CA: Nataraj Publishing, 2002), back cover.
7. Ibid., 1983, 9th Printing, p. 57.
8. Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way (New York, NY: William Morrow Co., 10th Anniversary Edition), front & back covers.
9. What’s New at Stiles newsletter, 1985.
10. Terry Mattingly, “Marketplace of the Gods” (Christian Research Journal, May/June 1986), p. 6.

Meditation’s Role in the End of the Age

Ray Yungen

By Ray Yungen

Throughout my Christian life I have periodically heard fellow Christians suggest we are in the last days. Often these comments were initiated from current cases of violent crimes, sexual perversions, war, or natural disasters. Since I knew history had repeatedly encountered these calamities, such predictions of Christ’s imminent return rang hollow.

However, in 1984 I had an unexpected encounter that changed my entire outlook. A newfound friend educated me about the New Age movement and its end-times implications. After a period of investigation, I came to believe this could very well be the time period the book of Revelation showcases. Instead of a vague and obscure manifestation of prophecy, I saw something distinct and pervasive happening in our churches and society. And incredibly enough, this shift has been predicted from both sides of the struggle.

Christians must remember that the authenticity of Christianity itself is predicated upon its prophecies coming to pass. Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul, and various apostles and prophets of the Old and New Testaments make clear and direct references to particular events occurring in the future. If these events are only fantasies, then everything else could be deemed equally fictitious as well. I believe current trends authenticate Jesus Christ’s and the apostle Paul’s prophetic claims regarding the end of the age. Upon examination of the evidence, it becomes clear that the course our society (and our churches) is taking has been foretold by the apostolic writings.

The apostle Paul spoke of the “day of the Lord” in reference to “the times and seasons” in the fifth chapter of 1 Thessalonians. He describes how God will intervene swiftly and without delay. Paul states:

But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.

For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.

But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. (I Thessalonians 5:1-6)

Paul is saying the end of the age will come upon the world like a thief in the night. In other words, it will actually sneak up on people. Then interestingly, the apostle contrasts two groups:  “But ye, brethren [followers of Christ] are not in darkness [people of ignorance], that that day should overtake you as a thief. [unaware]” (v.4). Here, Paul is saying believers in Christ will have the information (Scripture) available to them to prepare for “that day.”

Those who walk in the light can see both where they are going and what is coming up ahead. Paul then warns against spiritual slumber and drunkenness, which could lead to a person being overtaken by that day, unaware: “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (v. 6). The word sober means be alert or aware. If we are instructed to watch and be aware, there must be something to watch for—otherwise, Paul’s admonition would be useless. But who and what are we to watch for? …

Interestingly, the apostle Paul declared one called “the man of sin” and “the son of perdition” would proclaim himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:3,4). I believe this coming Aquarian messiah will be the son of perdition spoken of by Paul in 2 Thessalonians. Furthermore, I am convinced the New Age movement is his spiritual platform. Too many things fit together for this to be just mere coincidence. Therefore, we must watch for the restructuring of our world by those who are preparing the way for his arrival and identity to be revealed.

Daniel 8:23 states this man will be a master of dark sayings. In Hebrew, this translates as one skilled in cunning and ambiguous speech. The world will see him as one who is distinguished and spiritually brilliant. Keep this in mind as you read the following description:

The coming one will not be Christian, a Hindu, a Buddhist, not an American, Jew, Italian or Russian—his title is not important; he is for all humanity, to unite all religions, philosophies and nations.1

The only one who could bring this about is the one who fits the description mentioned in Daniel. This explains the all-out effort by the New Age, which is saturating our society with meditation right now. When this man comes forward, all those who are in touch with their higher self, those who are awakened will clearly recognize him as their unifier and give him their allegiance. He will have a ready-made constituency (many in key positions) to help him reconstruct society. This will be the final culmination of the paradigm shift that is taking place.

Familiar spirits (fallen angels) will not just mislead a few individuals; they will deceive the whole world into embracing a new system. Satan (whose name means adversary) will be the power behind the “Coming One”—the great Antichrist. The origin of the Antichrist’s religious system is clearly revealed by the apostle John in Revelation 17:5:

And upon her forehead was a name written, Mystery, Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth.

Another word for Babylon in the Old Testament was Chaldea. The Chaldeans were renowned for their use of metaphysical arts. They began the first mystery schools. Daniel 4:7 says: “Then came in the magicians, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers.” This Mystery Babylon, then, would be the original source or mother of what is now New Age metaphysics.

I believe the Bible contains an important passage, which clearly indicates a change of times and seasons may indeed be at hand. In Matthew 24:3-5, which is a chapter dealing with the tribulation period, Jesus spoke these words to His disciples concerning the signs of His coming and the end of the age:

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many….

In light of the many who will be coming in Christ’s name, I also believe the occultist Alice Bailey prophecies can provide further insight into what the apostle Paul called in 2 Thessalonians the falling away. Bailey eagerly foretold of what she termed “the regeneration of the churches.”21 Her rationale for this was obvious:

The Christian church in its many branches can serve as a St. John the Baptist, as a voice crying in the wilderness, and as a nucleus through which world illumination may be accomplished.2

In other words, instead of opposing Christianity, the occult would capture and blend itself with Christianity and then use it as its primary vehicle for spreading and instilling New Age consciousness! The various churches would still have their outer trappings of Christianity and still use much of the same lingo. If asked certain questions about traditional Christian doctrine, the same answers would be given. But it would all be on the outside; on the inside a contemplative spirituality would be drawing in those open to it.

The world is opening its arms to wholly embrace a spirituality that will exist under the umbrella of mysticism. The correlating theme will be—we are all One. When the man of lawlessness does rise to power with a one-world economy and political base, he will seduce many into searching for their own Christ consciousness rather than the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Notes:

1. John Davis and Naomi Rice, Messiah and the Second Coming, p. 150

2. Alice Bailey, The Externalization of the Heirarchy, p. 510

Ray Yungen (1952-2016) is the author of several Lighthouse Trails books, booklets, and lecture DVDs. He stood valiantly for the truth and issued warning to the church for nearly thirty years. 

Taizé Worship – Growing in Popularity, But Roots Are in Mystical Monasticism

Taizé Worship Service

Taizé Community in France during a worship service (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons; copyright owner: Damir Jelic; used with permission)

By Chris Lawson
(Author of Taizé: A Community and Worship: Ecumenical Reconciliation or an Interfaith Delusion?)

The worship practiced at Taizé has attracted many people from around the globe and from many different denominations. While many of the words found in Taizé worship music are words found in Scripture or words that do not necessarily contradict Scripture, the Taizé songs and worship services themselves are centered around contemplative, ecumenical, and oftentimes emergent spirituality themes. The emphasis is not on the teaching or exhortation of the Word of God but rather is to help participants “experience” God through sensory-focused music and singing. A church association in the UK describes the Taizé worship style as such:

The contemplative worship practices of the Taizé community are promoted at an annual international conference. Taizé worship is being incorporated in a wide variety of churches, both Protestant and Catholic and its pattern of devotion is emulated in other monastic communities around the world.

A Taizé worship service involves sung and chanted prayers, meditation, a period of silence, liturgical readings, and use of candles. There is no preaching. The style of prayer practiced at Taizé has attracted many worshippers from around the globe and from many different denominations.1

The main focus on the Taizé worship is the chanted prayers, meditations, and songs. However, the Bible warns against such practices:

[W]hen ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8)

The Contemplative Network, an online resource for those interested in meditative prayer practices, describes Taizé worship and prayer like this:

For those familiar with Taizé common prayer, but unfamiliar with Centering Prayer practices, they will discover that they grow from the same root of seeking to surrender the mind and heart to the intimate presence of God. They share the same spirit of ancient monastic traditions to open space to let the Word of God reverberate in all its dimensions. Those who have tasted of this open space during the silent period of a Taizé common prayer service may find themselves well disposed to explore related contemplative practices such as Lectio Divina and Centering Prayer.2

The Taizé worship is not based on the objective Word of God but rather offers spiritual experiences that are subjectively appealing to the flesh. In Scripture, we are instructed to build up the inner spiritual man and to resist the carnality of the flesh (Ephesians 3:16, Romans 8:1-16).

Jesus Christ instructed His disciples that they should not use repetitive prayers (chanting) like the heathen (New Agers, pagans, etc.) do. Anytime experience is given higher regard than God’s Word, it puts followers at risk of becoming victim to deception and even dangerous spiritual realms. Mystical and esoteric experiences are subjective, meaning they are not founded on anything solid or concrete. It is the Word of God (the Bible) that is to be our steering mechanism through life. Consider these verses that show the importance of the Word of God. You won’t find any verses giving credence to seeking after mystical experiences:

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. (Psalm 119:9)

Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. (John 8:31-32)

Taizé Worship Influenced by Catholic Prayers

The repetitive Taizé songs are influenced by the Roman Catholic notion that a person needs to say a certain amount of repeated prayers in order for them to be enough (e.g., the Catholic works mentality—which dictates that one must do enough works to reduce the time in Purgatory).

An example in Roman Catholicism would be the Rosary—a droning repetition of the same set of prayers, something like this: six repetitions of Our Father, fifty repetitions of the Hail Marys, and three repetitions of the Glory-be prayers. These repetitive prayers are usually said before or after mid-week Masses.

Jesus said, when asked about how to pray, to only pray to God (not Mary or saints or angels) and to not repeat the same prayers over and over again like the pagans “for they think they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

Six different Psalms tell us to sing a new song unto the Lord, but not one tells us to chant. Now Psalm 136 is unique in that it uses the refrain “his mercy endureth for ever,” but this is not a chant in that each refrain is a response to a different statement. So, unlike the psalms, the Catholic uses endless repetition out of guilt (in doing penance) or to be heard by God or from the sense that the Taizé songs are sung to allow participants to go into mind-altering trance-like states.

Taizé Worship Practices Similar to New Age Meditation

Sadly, many of the spiritual experiences occurring during Taizé worship services are similar to what takes place during New Age meditation. The following quote is from Lacy Clark Ellman, author of the New Age website, A Sacred Journey. Her quote is from “Inside the Taizé Community: An Interview with Brother Emile.” The processes (i.e., techniques) she mentions are reminiscent of many transformative occult practices. Regarding Taizé worship, Ellman explains:

Singing their [Taizé monks] chants left me transported—centering me, bringing me peace, and thus opening me up to the Sacred. I’ve been known to describe it as the perfect combination of the contemplative and charismatic—the words simple and liturgical in nature, with the repetition making space for the Sacred Guide to enter. . . .

Instead of trying to facilitate an experience with bright lights and catchy songs, the [Taizé] brothers invite visitors into their own experience—a rhythmic practice of chants, reading, and [meditative] silence in languages found across the globe. They didn’t explain what was going on or how to participate, apart from a board that displayed which song was to be sung next.3 (emphasis added)

The problem with this explanation is that occultists (shamans, sorcerers, witches, etc.) and New Age practitioners around the globe are receiving similar experiences, in varying forms, through spirit contact via spiritualism, séances, channeling, etc. So too, non-Christians enter varying levels of voluntary and involuntary possession states using this same process.

Instead of encouraging Christian worship settings that provide for a clear understanding of sound biblical preaching and teaching of the Bible, Taizé worship services provide a fast track to spiritual experience via unbiblical forms of prayer, meditation, and silence. In many cases, they bypass the Bible altogether. In settings like this where anything goes—chanting, centering down to enter “the silence,” lengthy repetitive singing, and meditative/altered states—any form of spirit contact can occur.

Considering these things, it is of utmost importance that Christians heed this biblical warning:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. (1 Timothy 4:1)

When people are not being taught the Bible and warned about the dangers of false doctrine and non-biblical practices, they will inevitably, in mystical Taizé type settings, end up under the influence of deceiving spirits. As the above passage describes, strong delusion will overtake them. This is no small problem as it is running rampant in the church throughout the world.
The true Christian has only one option at this point, and that is to obey Scripture and separate from those who bring teachings contrary to the Word of God.

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18; emphasis added)

(This is an excerpt from Chris Lawson’s book Taizé: A Community and Worship: Ecumenical Reconciliation or an Interfaith Delusion?)

Endnotes:

1. The Cornilo Churches, UK (http://www.cornilochurches.org.uk/taiz.htm).
2. The Contemplative Network, “Prayer With the Songs of Taizé (http://www.contemplative.net/prayer-with-songs-taize-t-1_43.html).
3. “Inside the Taizé Community: An Interview with Brother Emile” (http://www.asacredjourney.net/2013/08/taize).

Letter to the Editor: Husband Brought Home This Contemplative Book From Conference – “The Spiritual Formation of Leaders”

The Spiritual Formation of Leaders by Chuck MillerDear Lighthouse Trails,

I want to thank you again and possibly alert you on another author you should watch. Recently, my husband went to a pastor’s conference and brought a book back home titled The Spiritual Formation of Leaders by Chuck Miller, Ed. D.

Immediately I saw the title, the bells went of in my head, and sure enough, going through it, it has quotes from Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel, Henri Nouwen, Thomas Merton et. al. Looking through also, the author talks of a soul room, listening to God speak to you from all around you. Chapter 7 is titled “What exactly happens in the Soul Room? – Leadership: Moving from Management to Mystery.”

I must say, immediately I saw the book’s title, I became uncomfortable. These books look so good, so endearing and people are genuinely seeking how they can grow in Christ. If not for Lighthouse, I may not have known the treacherous path we would have been walking. As for me, since 2011, I have decided it’s Sola Scriptura. Away with especially new “Christian” books.

Thank you Lighthouse, and God bless you.

T. U.

LTRP Note: In addition to Brennan Manning, Henri Nouwen, and Thomas Merton, The Spiritual Formation of Leaders also contains quotes by and references to numerous other contemplative/emergent figures: New Age sympathizers Steven Covey and Parker Palmer, contemplatives John Ortberg, John Eldredge, Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, as well as emergents N.T. Wright, Robert Webber, Klaus Issler, and Eugene Peterson.

One of the books that Chuck Miller quotes from is Richard Foster’s Meditative Prayer. Here are a few quotes from that book to help illustrate our concerns about using the writings of contemplative authors:

“We will discover how the imagination can aid us in our task and consider the three major steps into meditative prayer.” (p. 3)

“In the fullness of time Jesus came and taught the reality of the kingdom of God and demonstrated what life could be like in that kingdom. He showed us God’s yearning for the gathering of an all-inclusive community of loving persons with himself as its prime sustainer and most glorious inhabitant.” (emphasis added, p. 5)

“To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart.” (quoting Russian mystic Theophan the Recluse, p. 7)

“I am because HE IS.” (p. 20)

“[A] third step in meditative prayer, which is the prayer of listening.” (p. 21)

Quoting from numerous mystics and panentheists, Foster says, “The great masters [mystics] of the interior life [meditative life] are overwhelmingly uniform in their witness to this reality [“an inward attentiveness to the divine Whisper”  p. 22].” (p. 22)

To describe meditative prayer, Foster uses words such as “spiritual space,” “inner sanctuary,” “Eucharistic feast,” “centering down,” “re-collection,” “divine breathings,” “rhythm of the Spirit,” “prayer of quiet,” “divine Center,” “spiritual ecstasy.”

 


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