Posts Tagged ‘Ray Yungen’
By Ray Yungen
Just what exactly is God’s desire for mankind? Does He want to send people to Hell? Does He want anyone to live eternally without Him? Scripture is very clear about this when it says:
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9)
God makes a strong plea to all people, giving them every opportunity to receive Him. It is God’s desire that none should perish eternally. That’s why he offered His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ—the only perfect sacrifice for mankind’s sin:
Therefore as by the offence of one [Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [Jesus] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. (Romans 5:18)
What it comes down to is the preaching of the higher self versus the preaching of the Cross. The New Age is saying that God is the higher self in man—that God is just a meditation away.
Many people are turned off when they think Christian teaching says we are bad and worthless. But this is not so. It may teach that man is bad (which is evident) but certainly not worthless. The fact that Christ died for the “ungodly” to “reconcile” them to God shows God’s love toward man. In contrast to karma, the Gospel of grace is better in that if you accept its provision, you are complete (perfect) in Christ Jesus.
This is why Christianity is so steadfast on these issues. If a belief system is not preaching the Cross, then it is not “the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:18). If other ways are correct, then Christ died in vain, His blood shed unnecessarily.
It is very true that God loves mankind, so much so He sent His Son to save all who receive Him by faith. The Lord is very patient with man, and as “the day of the Lord” draws nearer and nearer, He continues beckoning humanity to Himself.
However, while God’s love, mercy, and patience are very enduring, His warnings about a great judgment coming upon the earth are to be taken very seriously. Those who refuse to bow their knee to Jesus Christ will suffer severe and eternal consequences—make no mistake, that day will come:
But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. (II Peter 3:7)
Jesus said, in referring to His return “of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matthew 24:36). But He also said that while we will not know the exact hour and day of His return, we should be watching for the signs of the coming tribulation period. Throughout the centuries, Christians generally thought they were living in a time when Christ’s return was imminent based on natural disasters, wars, upheaval, and prominent military leaders (e.g., Napoleon). But never in the history of humanity has occultism and mysticism been unleashed as it has now. The apostle Paul, in making reference to this time period, said:
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 5:2-6)
Many think that the New Age movement is only a recent manifestation. But I believe that the words of the prophet Isaiah reveal that New Age spirituality was even around back then, although not called that. And he links this Ancient Wisdom in with the end of the age period. Isaiah issues a stern and fearsome warning:
Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth, if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail. Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from these things that shall come upon thee. (Isaiah 47:12-13)
The next verse describes the judgment that these will be subjected to:
Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame. (Isaiah 47:14)
And in Revelation 9:20-21, it discloses:
And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries.
The Book of Revelation explains that there are those who in the latter times “blasphemed the name of God” and “repented not to give him [God] glory” (Revelation 16:9) and again, “repented not of their deeds” (vs. 11).
These verses that speak of sorceries portray the “mystery of iniquity” (II Thessalonians 2:7) that is being judged during the tribulation period because its adherents are claiming to be God, and they refuse to give Him the glory but rather take it upon themselves. This will be the ultimate test revealing who the real God is.
This word “sorceries” used in Revelation comes from the greek word pharmakaia. The word is translated into four meanings:
1) the use or the administering of drugs
3) sorcery, magical arts, often found in connection with idolatry and fostered by it
4) metaphorically the deceptions and seductions of idolatry
I want you to realize the significance of this. The Bible is clear that sorcery will be a pervasive practice, to the point of being epidemic during “the day of the Lord.” And this is what is now called the Ancient Wisdom by its proponents! Alice Bailey said that the Ancient Wisdom would be at the very root of her new vital world religion, which she proudly proclaimed would be universal.
Scripture is very clear that sorceries are practices that will be judged by God. And I have shown in this book, sorcery traditionally throughout the centuries has been practiced by a very small number of persons (i.e., occult or kept secret). But now we have a virtual explosion of sorcery through the various practices and pronouncements as you have now read. What I am talking about is a whole world like the psychic slave girl in Acts. From Genesis to Revelation, the pages are filled with God’s warning to mankind when he refuses to acknowledge that the Lord is God and man is not. And throughout these pages are stories of those who mocked and scorned the warnings brought by God’s messengers. The apostle Peter referred to this scenario:
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. (II Peter 3: 3-4)
Many people today believe that it is wrong to talk about and warn of an endtime, apocolyptic time period. Rather, they say, we should spend time meditating and employing our higher powers to reach happiness and enlightenment in life. We each have a choice to make. Do we seek after this consciousness, or do we humbly call upon the living God and accept His free gift of salvation and eternal life?
If you don’t already, I pray you will come to know the true Christ (Jesus Christ) before it is too late. I cannot emphasize enough the vital importance of understanding and believing the following verse:
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. (John 10:9)
By saying this, Jesus made clear that it was by Him and not a mystical consciousness that we are saved. Compare these four views below. I pray you will see the difference as I did so many years ago!
I AM GOD! This is THE most basic tenant of metaphysical spiritual understanding.3
—A metaphysical teacher
You are God in a physical body.. . .You are all power.. . . You are all intelligence.. . . You are the creator.4—The Secret
[T]here is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:21-22)
He that hath the Son [not higher consciousness] hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. (I John 5:12)
Pope Francis Elected After Supernatural “Signs Says Cardinal—The Role His Jesuit Contemplative Ways Play
According to a news article earlier this year in the UK newspaper The Telegraph, the “surprise election of Pope Francis came about because of a series of supernatural ‘signs,’ one of the leading Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church has claimed.” The article also stated:
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna, who was himself widely tipped as a possible successor to Pope Benedict, said he had personally had two “strong signs” that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was “the chosen one” in the run up to vote.
He said only divine intervention could explain the speed with which the Argentine Cardinal – who did not feature on any of the main lists of likely candidates compiled by Vatican experts – was elected.1
If this is true, that Pope Francis was elected through supernatural means, the question must be posed, from which side did this supernatural, “divine” intervention come? If it is indeed supernatural, it had to be either from God or from Satan (the two opposing forces). Because we know that the Catholic church is a false heretical church that believes salvation is justification through works and not the sole work of Christ on the Cross, that Mary is a co-redeemer who did not sin, and that Jesus Christ is found in the Eucharist and the Catholic Mass, we must conclude that this supernatural intervention that brought Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the station of Pope of the Roman Catholic Church is not from God.
How is this relevant to the evangelical/Protestant church today? As Lighthouse Trails and Understand the Times have reported since Pope Francis began his reign as Pope, evangelical leaders are racing to the Pope’s side like never before in the history of the evangelical/Protestant church. Some of these who are rallying with the Pope are Rick Warren, Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, and James Robison, while other Christian leaders, such as Beth Moore, are coming out with statements that are giving strong credibility to the Catholic church.
It is a known fact that Pope Francis is a Jesuit. And as Lighthouse Trails has reported on a number of occasions, he is also a contemplative advocate. See our article Pope Francis – Spiritually “Founded” on a Contemplative Tradition. As research analyst Ray Yungen has documented, the Catholic Church is using contemplative prayer as a means of expanding her borders. Roger Oakland, founder of Understand the Times, has linked the mystical practice of the Eucharist to the Papacy’s New Evangelization program to bring the “lost brethren” back to the “Mother Church.” And as one can see, these efforts are having tremendous results. Ray Yungen states:
I had always been confused as to the real nature of this advance in the Catholic church. Was this just the work of a few mavericks and renegades, or did the church hierarchy sanction this practice? My concerns were affirmed when I read in an interview that the mystical prayer movement not only had the approval of the highest echelons of Catholicism but also was, in fact, the source of its expansion. (A Time of Departing, by Ray Yungen)
For thirteen years, Lighthouse Trails has been warning that when people get involved with contemplative meditation practices, they are putting themselves under demonic influence. In time, the spiritual outlook of contemplatives moves away from the Cross and the Gospel and moves toward panentheism and interspirituality.
How does all this tie together? The cover story in Christianity Today’s December 2014 issue proclaims: “Why Everyone is Flocking to Francis.” CT has its own idea of why “everyone” is drawn to the Pope. But if Lighthouse Trails is correct in our conclusions about contemplative spirituality and its outcome, then what is happening here is a “supernatural” occurrence in the lives of millions of people, both Catholic and non-Catholic, who are finding themselves dramatically affected by this Pope.
While we will not try to speculate what the possible role of this Pope could be in relation to Bible prophecy and the endtimes, we will say this with surety: between the New Age and the Catholic Church, the world is being drawn deeper and deeper into darkness and closer and closer to a false christ whom the Bible says is coming.
In closing, we’ll leave you with these words from Warren B. Smith:
The Catholic Church today [is] linked to the foundational New Age/New Spirituality teaching that God is “in” everyone.
The 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is the official source for all Roman Catholic doctrine today, states:
“Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God’s grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ.” (#795)
“For the Son of God became man so that we might become God.” (#460) (cited from “Another Jesus” Calling by Warren B. Smith)
Letter to the Editor From a FORMER Contemplative: Focus on the Family’s “Father Gilbert’s Mysteries” Points Listeners to Contemplative Prayer
LTRP Note: This is perhaps one of the most significant letters we have ever received, not just because it exposes more of Focus on the Family’s contemplative propensities, but because it shows the results (i.e., the “fruit”) of practicing contemplative prayer. This “fruit” is precisely why Lighthouse Trails has been crying out a warning for nearly 13 years.
We are grateful to this reader for sending us this letter describing his experience as a contemplative practitioner. We are thankful to the Lord for opening his eyes to the great deception he was in.
As for Focus on the Family, it has been promoting contemplative spirituality for several years (see below this letter for article links). Parents and grandparents, if your children and grandchildren are listening to the Focus on the Family drama CDs, including Adventures in Odyssey, they are being exposed to a dangerous spiritual view. We can’t emphasize that enough. As you read the following letter, realize that what happened to our reader because of his involvement in the “spiritual disciplines” of contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation), is happening to thousands and thousands of Christians today (a number that will eventually hit the millions, changing the entire face of Christianity as researcher Ray Yungen has so often said).
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
Recently, I was given the Father Gilbert Mysteries CD set (by Focus on the Family) from a friend to borrow. The following is a followup letter I sent to my friend regarding these CDs. I thought this letter might be useful to you and anyone else who might not be aware of the contemplative connections to this mystery series.
Hi XXXXXXXXX (names withheld for privacy),
Thanks for lending me the Father Gilbert Mysteries CDs. I listened to the first CD on the way home from your house. I found the story to be gripping, and it definitely held my interest. What especially caught my attention though, was what was said in the intro. to the second CD. In it, the narrator stated that Father Gilbert [an Anglican priest] had joined a monastery. While there, he studied “the classic spiritual disciplines of prayer and meditation.” At this point, I had to stop listening to the CD.
As you probably know, I was, for the first 25 years of my Christian life, deeply involved in the spiritual discipline of contemplative prayer that promised to help me become more “Christlike.” According to one web site, “Christian contemplative prayer or contemplation, which was practiced by innumerable monks and nuns (and now laypeople) from the times of the Desert Fathers to the present, goes deep within the heart to meet God, ever-present within, though without thoughts, words, or images, because he is beyond them.”
For me, this basically involved stilling my mind throughout the day and focusing on my moment by moment connection with Christ. Toward the last part of this period in my life, I even had a little hand counter, which I kept with me and which I would keep track of each time, through out the day, when I focused on God. This led me into times of deeper meditation where my mind would become increasingly still and quiet, to the point where my thoughts seemed to be vacuumed out of my mind, leaving me in a kind of raptured stillness.
During these experiences, I had what I believed at the time to be an actual physical sensation of God’s Presence. It was like I didn’t need to focus so much on the Bible anymore to know God because I was actually experiencing Him directly in these moments of contemplation. And in this experience, I felt God as a force or power that was flowing through all things.
It was then that I noticed a subtle change was beginning to take place in my concept of God. I began to feel deeply that God’s Presence was everywhere and in everything. And if God was in everything and as a result, in everyone, then the important thing was not what a person thought about God or believed about Him, but rather that they stilled their thoughts so they too could experience Him in the present moment, beyond thoughts. This began to trouble me though, because I began to realize that this was what I had once believed as a follower and practicer of New Age Eastern beliefs prior to becoming a Christian.
This led me to do some research online. There, I found that this new way of perceiving God which I was developing through my “spiritual discipline” actually had a name. It was called, panentheism—that God is in all things and all things are in God. I also found that this concept does not appear to line up with God’s Word… “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His.” Romans 8:9.
Needless to say, about five years ago, I discontinued this spiritual practice and began to rest in the finished work of Christ which He accomplished at the Cross (Hebrews 10:10). I can’t begin to tell you how incredibly freeing and restful it has become to be able to say, with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ lives in me.” Gal. 2:20. And “But if the Spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” Romans 8:11
Paul (not real name)
Related Articles (most recent ones at top, older ones dating back to 2007 at bottom):
Ravi Zacharias on Henri Nouwen – “I regret having said that” “Henri Nouwen Was One of the Greatest Saints In Our Time”
It is not often that Lighthouse Trails can report on a major Christian leader actually renouncing earlier endorsements of the contemplative mystics. Rick Warren, Beth Moore, Chuck Swindoll, David Jeremiah, and many others have written books that have promoted contemplative teachers, and Lighthouse Trails has documented many of these situations. And in every case, even though each of these leaders learned about our challenge, none of them has ever come forth and admitted they were wrong. But in a 2012 online interview by an independent blog, Ravi Zacharias was asked the following question:
If in your book, you wrote how Eastern mysticism is completely erroneous, why did you state in one of your speaking engagements that Henri Nouwen was one of the greatest saints who lived in our time, when Nouwen is known to have been influenced by Thomas Merton and others who practice Eastern mysticism?
I regret having said that. At the time, I based my comment on Nouwen’s story of the prodigal son which I felt was on target. But later as I learned more about Nouwen and Merton, I found their writings to be very troubling. I believe that doctrinally, Nouwen lost his way. I used to read Malcolm Muggeridge too until I read his book, “Jesus Rediscovered”. Muggeridge was morally and culturally a good thinker, but he was not theologically sound.
Ravi Zacharias International Ministry website is carrying numerous articles which speak favorably of Catholic mystic Henri Nouwen, Catholic monk and mystic, Thomas Merton, and contemplative Richard Foster.
In 2007, Lighthouse Trails was still in the stages of learning that contemplative spirituality (i.e., Spiritual Formation) was being endorsed by nearly every Christian leader and most of the Christian colleges. Thus, Zacharias was added to a long growing list.
A short time after writing that piece on Zacharias, a unique opportunity arose. One afternoon, a Lighthouse Trails reader from Southern California whom we had come to know through phone conversations contacted us and said she and her husband had been invited to a dinner party (the reader’s husband is a physician), and Ravi Zacharias was going to be there. Our reader said she was very troubled that Zacharias would promote Nouwen and Merton, and she would like to speak with him if the occasion offered itself at the dinner party. Because Zacharias was born in India and because our reader happened to have a copy of Caryl Matrisciana’s book Out of India, it seemed to be an opportunity from God. Once at the dinner party, our reader was not sure she would get a chance to give the book to Zacharias as he was involved with conversations with several people throughout the evening. But toward the end of the night, a moment came when she was able to approach Zacharias. She told him she was concerned about his endorsements of Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton, and she handed him the book and asked if he would read it. He said that he happened to be heading out on a long flight and that he would read the book.
We can’t know for sure that Zacharias read Out of India. But if he did, he would have learned that the contemplative prayer movement is rooted in Hinduism and the New Age movement and that Nouwen and Merton are part of that movement. But either way, it appears that Ravi Zacharias has changed his mind about Henri Nouwen and has been willing to acknowledge that publicly, something we have yet to see in other Christian leaders.
We must note that there are still numerous articles on Zacharias’ website promoting Henri Nouwen, such as one written by Jill Carattini, the managing editor of Zacharias’ online publication A Slice of Infinity. That article is titled “I Am Absent.” It is interesting that just a few months after Zacharias made a public statement renouncing Nouwen, Carattini wrote an article for his website promoting Nouwen. Perhaps the two never discussed Zacharias’ changed opinion about Nouwen. Other articles on Zacharias’ website where Nouwen is favorably included are: “Flickering Minds” (2013-Carattini), “As Sure as the Sun” (2013, Carattini), “Free Lunch Economy” (2011, Carattini), “Culture of Absence” (2011, Carattini), “Waiting for Spring” (2011, Carattini), “Of Parables and Paradigms” (2010, Danielle DuRant), “September 11, 2001: Was God Present or Absent?” (2002, Zacharias), and “Lessons From War in a Battle of Ideas” (2000, Zacharias).
While it may seem picky to some that we are listing all these instances on Zacharias’ website, we believe it is important. According to Zacharias’ 2012 interview, he has come to understand the dangers of Henri Nouwen’s teachings. Yet readers at his site probably will never see that interview but they could very easily come across these articles giving Nouwen a pass.
We hold out hope that when Zacharias learns of these articles (and comes to understand the problem with having them on his site), he will have them removed (or edited) so as not to be responsible any longer for pointing people to a mystic who believed all paths lead to God and who talked about listening to cassette tapes on the chakras. We also hope that both he and his managing editor, Jill Carattini, will read A Time of Departing and come to understand that the contemplative prayer movement is dangerous and has become fully engaged with the evangelical church. Ray Yungen lays out the implications well:
If this mystical paradigm shift comes to complete fruition, what will the Christian of the future be like? If Christians develop into the spiritual likeness of Henri Nouwen, we will find them meditating with Buddhists as Nouwen did—which he called “dialogue of the heart.”1 We will also find them listening to tapes on the seven chakras 2 (which Reiki is based on) as Nouwen did, and above all we will find them wanting to help people “claim his or her own way to God”3 (universalism) as Nouwen did. Nouwen wrote that his solitude and the solitude of his Buddhist friends would “greet each other and support each other.”4 In this one statement lies the fundamental flaw of the contemplative prayer movement—spiritual adultery.5
1. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey ( (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 1998), p.20. Note: Sabbatical Journey is the last book Nouwen wrote. It shows the effect that years of practicing mysticism had on Nouwen.
2. Ibid., p. 20.
3. Ibid., p. 51.
4. Ibid., p. 20.
5. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Eureka, MT: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2nd ed, 2006), p. 183.
By Ray Yungen
The New Age and Christianity definitely clash on the answer to the question of human imperfection. The former [the New Age] espouses the doctrine of becoming self-realized and united with the universe, which they see as God but in reality is the realm of familiar spirits. On the other hand, the Gospel that Christians embrace offers salvation to humanity through grace (unmerited favor). Romans 3:24 boldly states: “… being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” In Romans 6:23 we read: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This gift is not earned or given as a reward for earnest or good intentions as Scripture clearly states:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
This Scripture that tackles the issue of pride sharply distinguishes all of man’s religions from Christianity. Religion persuades us that man is innately good and, therefore, can earn his way to heaven through human perfectibility or, better yet, through the realization of his own divinity. Christianity emphatically states the opposite view that man needs to humbly recognize his own sinfulness and fallibility, and consequently needs salvation through grace.
The Holy Spirit, through the Scripture, convicts the sinner of his sinful and lost condition and then presents to the despairing and repentant man God’s solution–salvation through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ on the Cross: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7) and then:
[I]f you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. (Romans 10:9-10)
Salvation is entirely a gift of grace bestowed on whoever believes in Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross as both God and man. Consequently, we must receive Him as Lord and Savior, understanding that it is by grace and grace alone that we are made acceptable in Christ before a holy God. Justification is God’s gift to the believer. This saving faith, also a demonstration of God’s grace, is more than an intellectual belief in Jesus’ death on the Cross but involves committing and entrusting one’s life to Jesus as both Lord and Savior–Christ’s going to the Cross was a finished work, and we as believers are now complete in Him. Nothing else can be added to this. How totally opposite from New Age thinking is God’s plan of salvation!
It all comes down to the preaching of the higher self versus the preaching of the Cross. New Agers may say God is synonymous with a person’s higher self, and the experience of God can only be discovered by way of meditation. However, the Christian admits his or her sinfulness before a Holy God and remembers he is saved only by the grace and mercy of God through the sacrificial shedding of Christ’s blood for his sins.
The message of Jesus Christ reaches out to the lost human race with the love of God who sacrificed His only begotten Son for the Swami Muktanandas of the world. The Bible teaches that man has an inherently rebellious and ungodly nature (which is evident), and his ways are naturally self-centered and evil in the sight of God. The Bible teaches that God is not indifferent to us. The sacrifice of Christ for the ungodly to reconcile us to God reveals the Lord’s love toward Man.
This explains why Christianity must be steadfast on these issues. If a belief system does not teach the preaching of the Cross, then it is not “the power of God” (I Corinthians 1:18). If other ways are correct, “then Christ died in vain,” rendering His shed blood unnecessary and immaterial (Galatians 2:21).
Because of this conflict, we can safely assume that Christianity is the most formidable obstacle to the New Age, standing like a bulwark against this tidal wave of meditation teachers and practical mystics. But, incredibly, many of the most successful practical mystics are appearing from within Christendom itself. Ironically, instead of stemming the momentum of New Age spirituality, it is our own churches that may very well be the decisive catalysts to propel this movement into prominence. Certain spiritual practices are becoming entrenched in our churches that, like an iceberg, seem beautiful and impressive on the surface but in reality will cause severe damage and compromise of truth. (from A Time of Departing, pp.24-26)
By Ray Yungen
The final outcome of contemplative prayer is interspirituality. If you have truly grasped the portrait I have tried to paint in my book and articles, you have begun to see what this term signifies. The focus of my criticism of mystical prayer must be understood in the light of interspirituality.
Just what exactly is interspirituality? The premise behind interspirituality is that divinity (God) is in all things, and the presence of God is in all religions; there is a connecting together of all things, and through mysticism (i.e., meditation) this state of divinity can be recognized. Consequently, this is a premise that is based on and upheld by an experience that occurs during a self-hypnotic trance linking one to an unseen world rather than to the sound doctrine of the Bible.
It is important to understand that interspirituality is a uniting of the world’s religions through the common thread of mysticism. Wayne Teasdale, a lay monk who coined the term interspirituality, says that interspirituality is “the spiritual common ground which exists among the world’s religions.”1 Teasdale, in talking about this universal church also states:
She [the church] also has a responsibility in our age to be a bridge for reconciling the human family . . . the Spirit is inspiring her through the signs of the times to open to Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains, Taoists, Confucians, and indigenous peoples. As matrix [a binding substance], the Church would no longer see members of other traditions as outside her life. She would promote the study of these traditions, seek common ground and parallel insights.2 (emphasis mine)
An article in my local newspaper revealed just how well received interspirituality has become in certain circles. One Presbyterian elder who was described as a “Spiritual Director” made it clear when she said:
I also have a strong interest in Buddhism and do a sitting meditation in Portland [Oregon] as often as I can. I considered myself ecumenical not only in the Christian tradition, but with all religions.3 (emphasis mine)
There is a profound and imminent danger taking place within the walls of Christianity. Doctrine has become less important than feeling, and this has led to a mystical paradigm shift. Sound doctrine must be central to this debate because New Ageism has a very idealistic side to it, offering a mystical approach to solve human problems. Everyone would like to have his or her problems solved. Right? That is the practical aspect I wrote about in the last chapter—a seemingly direct route to a happy and fulfilled life. However, one can promote the attributes of God without actually having God.
People who promote a presumably godly form of spirituality can indeed come against the truth of Christ. Then how can you be assured what you believe and practice is of God?
The Christian message has been clear from the beginning—God has sent a Savior. If man only had to practice some kind of mystical prayer to gain access to God then the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was a fruitless, hollow endeavor.
Sound Christian doctrine comes from the understanding that mankind is sinful, fallen, and separated from God. Man needs a saving work by God! A teaching like panentheism (God is in everybody) cannot be reconciled to the finished work of Christ. How could Jesus be our Savior then? New Age constituents will say He is a model for Christ consciousness, but the Bible teaches He is the Savior of mankind. Therefore, panentheism cannot be a true doctrine.
The problem is that many well-intentioned people embrace the teachings of panentheism because it sounds so good. It appears less bigoted on God’s part. No one is left out—all are connected to God. There is a great appeal in this message. Nevertheless, the Bible does not teach a universal salvation for man. In contrast, Jesus said:
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: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
Christ’s message is the polar opposite of these universalist teachings. Many people (even Christians) today think only a few really bad people will be sent to hell. But in Matthew, the words of Jesus make it clear that this just is not so.
While God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of the world, He did not say all would be saved. His words are clear that many would reject the salvation He provided. But those who are saved have been given the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18) making an appeal to those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 4:3). The Christian message is not samadhi, Zen, kundalini, or the contemplative silence. It is the power of the Cross!
For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
Yes, perishing, and not just unaware of their true self.
In an opinion poll, the startling results describe how Americans actually view God. Spirituality and Health magazine hired a reputable pollster organization to gauge the spiritual beliefs of the American public. This national poll revealed that 84 percent of those questioned believed God to be “everywhere and in everything” rather than “someone somewhere.”4 This means panentheism is now the more popular view of God. If true, then a high percentage of evangelical Christians in America already lean towards a panentheistic view of God. Perhaps many of these Christians are fuzzy about the true nature of God.
How could this mystical revolution have come about? How could this perspective have become so widespread? The answer is that over the last thirty or forty years a number of authors have struck a deep chord with millions of readers and seekers within Christendom. These writers have presented and promoted the contemplative view to the extent that many now see it as the only way to “go deeper” in the Christian life. They are the ones who prompt men and women to plunge into contemplative practice. It is their message that leads people to experience the “lights” and the “inner adviser!”
1. Wayne Teasdale, “Mysticism as the Crossing of Ultimate Boundaries: A Theological Reflection” (The Golden String newsletter, http://clarusbooks.com/Teasdale.html, accessed 10/2009).
2. Wayne Teasdale, A Monk in the World (Novato, CA: New World Library, 2002), p. 64.
3. Jan Alsever quoted in Statesman Journal, January 27th, 1996, Religion Section.
4. Katherine Kurs, “Are You Religious or Are You Spiritual?” (Spirituality & Health Magazine, Spring 2001), p. 28.
By Ray Yungen
Contemplative advocates propose that there has been something vital and important missing from the church for centuries. The insinuation is that Christians have been lacking something necessary for their spiritual vitality; but that would mean the Holy Spirit has not been fully effective for hundreds of years and only now the secret key has been found that unlocks God’s full power to know Him. These proponents believe that Christianity has been seriously crippled without this extra ingredient. This kind of thinking leads one to believe that traditional, biblical Christianity is merely a philosophy without the contemplative prayer element. Contemplatives are making a distinction between studying and meditating on the Word of God versus experiencing Him, suggesting that we cannot hear Him or really know Him simply by studying His Word or even through normal prayer—we must be contemplative to accomplish this. But the Bible makes it clear that the Word of God is living and active, and has always been that way, and it is in filling our minds with it that we come to love Him, not through a mystical practice of stopping the flow of thought (the stillness) that is never once mentioned in the Bible, except in warnings against vain repetitions.
Thomas Merton said that he saw various Eastern religions “come together in his life” (as a Christian mystic). On a rational, practical level Christianity and Eastern religions will not mix; but add the mystical element and they do blend together like adding soap to oil and water. I must clarify what I mean: Mysticism neutralizes doctrinal differences by sacrificing the truth of Scripture for a mystical experience. Mysticism offers a common ground, and supposedly that commonality is divinity in all. But we know from Scripture “there is one God; and there is none other but he” (Mark 12:32).
In a booklet put out by Saddleback Church on spiritual maturity, the following quote by Henri Nouwen is listed:
Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and Him alone. If we really believe not only that God exists, but that He is actively present in our lives—healing, teaching, and guiding—we need to set aside a time and space to give Him our undivided attention.1 (emphasis mine)
When we understand what Nouwen really means by “time and space” given to God we can also see the emptiness and deception of his spirituality. In his biography of Nouwen, God’s Beloved, Michael O’ Laughlin says:
Some new elements began to emerge in Nouwen’s thinking when he discovered Thomas Merton. Merton opened up for Henri an enticing vista of the world of contemplation and a way of seeing not only God but also the world through new eyes. . . . If ever there was a time when Henri Nouwen wished to enter the realm of the spiritual masters or dedicate himself to a higher spiritual path, it was when he fell under the spell of Cistercian monasticism and the writings of Thomas Merton.2 (emphasis mine)
In his book, Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic, Nouwen talks about these “new eyes” that Merton helped to formulate and said that Merton and his work “had such an impact” on his life and that he was the man who had “inspired” him greatly.3 But when we read Nouwen’s very revealing account, something disturbing is unveiled. Nouwen lays out the path of Merton’s spiritual pilgrimage into contemplative spirituality. Those who have studied Merton from a critical point of view, such as myself, have tried to understand what are the roots behind Merton’s spiritual affinities. Nouwen explains that Merton was influenced by LSD mystic Aldous Huxley who “brought him to a deeper level of knowledge” and “was one of Merton’s favorite novelists.”4 It was through Huxley’s book, Ends and Means, that first brought Merton “into contact with mysticism.”5 Merton states:
He [Huxley] had read widely and deeply and intelligently in all kinds of Christian and Oriental mystical literature, and had come out with the astonishing truth that all this, far from being a mixture of dreams and magic and charlatanism, was very real and very serious.6 (emphasis mine)
This is why, Nouwen revealed, Merton’s mystical journey took him right into the arms of Buddhism:
Merton learned from him [Chuang Tzu—a Taoist] what Suzuki [a Zen master] had said about Zen: “Zen teaches nothing; it merely enables us to wake and become aware.”7
Become aware of what? The Buddha nature. Divinity within all.That is why Merton said if we knew what was in each one of us, we would bow down and worship one another. Merton’s descent into contemplative led him to the belief that God is in all things and that God is all things. This is made clear by Merton when he said:
True solitude is a participation in the solitariness of God—Who is in all things.8
[Chuang Tzu] awakened and led him [Merton] . . . to the deeper ground of his consciousness.9
This has been the ploy of Satan since the Garden of Eden when the serpent said to Eve, “ye shall be as gods” (Genesis 3:4). It is this very essence that is the foundation of contemplative prayer.
In Merton’s efforts to become a mystic, he found guidance from a Hindu swami, whom Merton referred to as Dr. Bramachari. Bramachari played a pivotal role in Merton’s future spiritual outlook. Nouwen divulged this when he said:
Thus he [Merton] was more impressed when this Hindu monk pointed him to the Christian mystical tradition. . . . It seems providential indeed that this Hindu monk relativized [sic] Merton’s youthful curiosity for the East and made him sensitive to the richness of Western mysticism.10
Why would a Hindu monk advocate the Christian mystical tradition? The answer is simple: they are one in the same. Even though the repetitive words used may differ (e.g. Christian words: Abba, Father, etc. rather than Hindu words), the end result is the same. And the Hindu monk knew this to be true. Bramachari understood that Merton didn’t need to switch to Hinduism to get the same enlightenment that he himself experienced through the Hindu mystical tradition. In essence, Bramachari backed up what I am trying to get across in A Time of Departing, that all the world’s mystical traditions basically come from the same source and teach the same precepts . . . and that source is not the God of the Old and New Testaments. The biblical God is not interspiritual!
Evangelical Christianity is now being invited, perhaps even catapulted into seeing God with these new eyes of contemplative prayer. And so the question must be asked, is Thomas Merton’s silence, Henri Nouwen’s space, and Richard Foster’s contemplative prayer the way in which we can know and be close to God? Or is this actually a spiritual belief system that is contrary to the true message that the Bible so absolutely defines—that there is only one way to God and that is through His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice on the Cross obtained our full salvation? In my book, A Time of Departing, I endeavored to answer these questions with extensive evidence and documentation showing the dangers of contemplative prayer.
If indeed my concerns for the future actually come to fruition, then we will truly enter a time of departing. My prayer is that you will not turn away from the faith to follow a different gospel and a different Jesus but will rather stay the course and finish the race, so that after having done all you can, you will stand.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13).
1. Henri Nouwen, cited in Saddleback training book, Soul Construction: SolitudeTool (Lake Forest, CA: Saddleback Church, 2003), p. 12.
2. Michael O’ Laughlin, God’s Beloved (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004), p. 178.
3. Henri J.M. Nouwen, Thomas Merton: Contemplative Critic (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row Publishers, 1991, Triumph Books Edition), p. 3.
4. Ibid., pp. 19-20.
5. Ibid., p. 20.
7. Ibid., p. 71.
8. Ibid., pp. 46, 71.
9. Ibid., p. 71.
10 . Ibid., p. 29.