Posts Tagged ‘Ray Yungen’
NEW BOOKLET TRACT: Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much
NEW BOOKLET TRACT: Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much by Roger Oakland is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 16 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklet Tracts are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much, click here.
Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much
By Roger Oakland
In 2014, Rick Warren (called “America’s Pastor) was interviewed by Catholic T.V. network host Raymond Arroyo. The interview took place at the Saddleback Church campus and was posted on YouTube by EWTN in April of 2014. Because I had written previously in 2013 about Rick Warren’s connections to Rome and to the Catholic convert Tony Blair (former prime minister of Britain), I was very aware that Rick Warren was heading down the path toward Rome. But not until I saw this interview did I realize just how far he has gone in that direction.
When I wrote the 2013 commentary titled “What is Next for Rick Warren?,” I provided evidence to show that Warren and Britain’s prime minister Tony Blair were partnering together with the Roman Catholic Church to form a P.E.A.C.E. Plan that would lead toward the creation of a global religion in the name of Christ. While many who read that commentary were skeptical that such a Warren-Rome connection existed, the 2014 interview clearly reveals it does.
EWTN made this statement about the interview on their YouTube station:
Part II of our exclusive interview: Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Southern California. Rick talks about the expansion of his ministry abroad, the Vatican delegation that recently came to Orange County to study his church’s style of evangelization, and which television channel he finds himself watching most often and the show that draws him.1
If you have access to the Internet, I highly recommend you watch the entire thirty-minute interview as it is filled with information that provides further insight into Rick Warren’s pathway to Rome—one he has actually been supporting for quite some time. For instance, in 2005, Warren created the Purpose Driven Life Catholics program. And in his best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life (released in 2002), Warren makes several favorable references to well-known Catholics: page 88 (Brother Lawrence, a Catholic mystic); page 108 (Catholic priest and contemplative mystic, Henri Nouwen and Catholic panentheist St. John of the Cross); and twice he mentions Mother Theresa (pages 125 and 231).
But in this EWTN interview, Warren takes his views of the Catholic Church to even “greater” heights and admits he is in favor of the Roman Catholic New Evangelization program (set up to win the “lost brethren” back to the Mother Church).2
The Warren-Arroyo Interview
What did he say?! This is exactly the direction we predicted he would go! It will be crucial that skeptics hear and see this interview. These were the thoughts running through my head when I first watched the EWTN interview with Rick Warren and Raymond Arroyo. The comments by Rick Warren in response to Arroyo’s questions were stunning. They left no room for doubt in my mind—Warren is marching towards ecumenical unity with Rome, and it has become clearer than it ever was before.
The interview opened with the following question by Arroyo:
The Purpose Driven Life is the best-selling book in the world—36 million plus copies. It’s been translated more than any book except the Bible. What is the key to that success? Why were so many people touched by that book and continue to be?3
To Arroyo’s question, Warren responded:
You know, Ray, there is not a single new thought in Purpose Driven Life that hadn’t been said for 2,000 years. I’ve just said it in a fresh way. I said it in a simple way. When I was writing Purpose Driven Life it took me seven months, twelve hours a day. I’d get up at 4:30 in the morning. I’d go to a little study. Start at 5 a.m. I was fasting til noon, and I would light some candles, and I would start writing and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. One of the things I did before I wrote the book was, um, I’d ask the question—How do you write a book that lasts 500 years? For instance, um, Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempis, Practicing the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. Ok? The Desert Fathers, St. John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila. All of these great, classic devotional works. Any one of them—I just realized that in order to be timeless you have to be eternal.4
Warren’s answer certainly provides some understanding as to where his spiritual affinities lie, and it associates him with the Catholic contemplative prayer movement brought into the evangelical church through Richard Foster and Dallas Willard. Interestingly, in Warren’s first book, The Purpose Driven Church, he identified (and promoted) Foster and Willard as key players in that movement.5
In the interview with Raymond Arroyo, Warren’s exalting of the writers he refers to is disconcerting to say the least. They are all mystics. Brother Lawrence talked of “dancing violently like a mad man” when he went “into the presence.”6 Teresa of Avila levitated and often wrote about her numerous esoteric mystical experiences.7 St. John of the Cross (author of the contemplative favorite, Dark Night of the Soul) was panenthestic in his belief that God was in all creation.8 The Desert Fathers were ancient hermits and monks who embraced the mystical prayer practices of those from pagan religions.
For Rick Warren to list the writings of these Catholic mystics as “great” insinuating they are “eternal” is more than revealing. The Bible is the inspired word of God. As the apostle Paul states, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). While the Bible is great and is eternal, the books written by Roman Catholic mystics are the works of fallible humans who were misled by the fallen spiritual dimension. They can promote doctrines of demons and lead Bible believers away from the faith.
Raymond Arroyo then asked Rick Warren the following question:
What is your secret to reaching people every day, every week, not only in your writing but when they speak to you? What is it? What is this communication gift, if you will, if you could decode, because a lot of preachers would like to know.9
While Warren mentions Pope Francis several times throughout the interview with the EWTN host, he answers this question by directing attention to the pope, stating:
Well, the main thing is love always reaches people. Authenticity, humility. Pope Francis is the perfect example of this. He is a—He is doing everything right. You see, people will listen to what we say if they like what they see. And as our new pope, he was very, very symbolic in, you know, his first mass with people with AIDS, uh, his kissing of the deformed man, his loving the children. This authenticity, this humility, the caring for the poor, this is what the whole world expects us Christians to do. And when we—when they go, oh, that’s what a Christian does—In fact, there was a headline here in Orange County—and I love the headline. It said, if you love Pope Francis, you’ll love Jesus. That was the headline! I showed it to a group of priests I was speaking to awhile back.10 (emphasis added)
While loving others is a quality all Christians should embrace and promote, using Pope Francis as the perfect example seems somewhat opportunistic. For Rick Warren to call Pope Francis “our new pope” suggests that Rick Warren has accepted the pope not only as the head of the Catholic Church but as the head of the Christian church as well. Either Rick Warren believes that or he was indeed being opportunistic.
His comments about the Orange County headline, “If You Love Pope Francis, You’ll love Jesus,” is no less reason for scrutiny. Can you imagine the apostle Paul referring to the head of a false religion as “our” leader and comparing this false teacher to Jesus Christ.
Rick Warren, Religious Liberty, and Catholics & Evangelicals Together
It is a well-known fact, based on Bible prophecy, that the last-days one-world religion called the “harlot” will be a counterfeit to the true church, which is the Bride of Christ. Bible scholars who take this position believe the ecumenical gathering of religions together for the cause of peace will be the prerequisite. One of the key events bringing this about is when a declaration is made that the Reformation is over, and the “separated brethren” will be welcomed back into the fold (i.e., the Catholic Church).
This booklet you are reading deals with aspects of the Rick Warren-Raymond Arroyo EWTN interview that provide some significant clues indicating this scenario is presently underway. I am making reference to a portion of the interview that deals with the topic of religious liberty. In fact, it was revealed that Rick Warren may have a plan laid away for the future of promoting a “religious liberty movement” that will be the equivalent of the “civil liberties movement” of the past. When Raymond Arroyo asked Rick Warren what he thought about the separation of church and state and how the Supreme Court would rule on this topic in the future, Warren responded:
Now it’s interesting that phrase today means the exact opposite of what it meant in Jefferson’s days. Today people think it means keeping religion out of government or out of politics. But actually, the separation of church and state was we are going to protect the church from the government. I believe that religious liberty may be the civil rights issue of the next decade. And if it takes some high profile pastors going to jail, like Martin Luther King did with civil rights, I’m in. So be it. I mean, as Peter said and the apostles that we must obey God rather than men.11 (emphasis added)
It may seem surprising to some that “America’s Pastor” would be so outspoken and willing to take such a strong stand for religious liberty—especially when he shows his passion for this topic by stating he is personally willing to go to jail for such a cause. These are passionate words. Does this mean that the Purpose Driven Church model may have a broader agenda than previously advertised?
Arroyo then asks Warren:
Do you think events like this, moments like this, are actually sources of unity and moments of unity, particularly for Catholics and Evangelicals?12
When I first listened to Warren’s response, I was somewhat surprised by what he said. However, after thinking about it further and comparing his answer with other statements Warren previously made about his willingness to work together with various faiths and belief systems for the common cause of good, his response made perfect sense. Warren states:
Well, obviously we have so much in common in protecting our religious rights—and really the religious rights of other people who we disagree with on beliefs and behaviors. Muslims, for instance, don’t drink alcohol. If all of a sudden they made a law that said every Muslim restaurant has to serve alcohol, I would be there protesting with that. If they made a law that said every Jewish deli in New York City has to sell pork, I’m going to be there protesting. I don’t have a problem with pork. But I am going to protest that. If they make a law that says every Catholic school has to provide contraceptives, if you’re morally convinced you shouldn’t have contraceptives, I stand with you, firm with you on your belief on that because you have a right to train your children the way you want to.13
It is difficult to challenge Warren’s argument as he states his case. Religious freedom is a major pillar that America was founded upon. To attack religious freedom or rights could well spark a religious liberty movement if this is the direction political leaders are headed.
However, it is also possible that a so-called “religious liberty” movement championed by America’s Pastor, who is willing to go to jail for standing up for the religious rights of all religions, could be a stepping stone to something else. Especially when it is so obvious this would be another effective way to join evangelicals and Catholics together, the current common trend is going that direction wtih each passing day.
While it may be a stretch to suggest Rick Warren will become the pied piper who unites all the world religions for a common cause, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that Warren could be a major spokesperson for persuading evangelicals to join together with Roman Catholics. This whole movement has been in place for some time and has received endorsements from such well-known leaders as Bill Bright, J. I. Packer, and Charles Colson.
In the past, Rick Warren has made numerous statements about his willingness to join forces with Rome in order to establish the kingdom of God here on earth. In a message Warren gave at the Pew Forum on Religion in Key West Florida, May 23, 2005, he stated:
Now when you get 25 percent of America, which is basically Catholic, and you get 28 to 29 percent of America which is evangelical together, that’s called a majority. And it is a very powerful bloc, if they happen to stay together on particular issues. . . . I would encourage you to look at this evolving alliance between evangelical Protestants and Catholics.14
Without question, Warren’s “evolving alliance” with Rome has come a long way since he made this statement. The interview with Raymond Arroyo of EWTN is proof of that. When a pastor of Warren’s stature and influence refrains from warning his followers about the dangers found in the extra- and non-biblical teachings of Roman Catholicism, discerning Christians should not remain silent.
Rick Warren, Jean Vanier, and the New Evangelization
One significant revelation that was brought to light during the interview was that Rick Warren and Saddleback Church had hosted a delegation from Rome to discuss the New Evangelization program. According to the interview, a number of Roman Catholic delegates were observing the Warren-Saddleback Purpose-Driven model in order to gain ideas and insight for the Roman Catholic New Evangelization plan initiated by Pope John Paul II and continued by Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. I have discussed this New Evangelization plan and the serious implications of it in several articles over the years as well as in my book Another Jesus: the eucharistic christ and the new evangelization.
With regard to the Catholic delegation visit to Saddleback, Raymond Arroyo asked Rick Warren the following question:
The Vatican recently sent a delegation here to Saddleback—the pontifical council—the academy for life. Tell me what they discovered and why did they come? This is a sizable group.15
Rick Warren enthusiastically answered:
They were about thirty bishops from Europe. One of the men had been actually trained and mentored by Jean Vanier, which is an interesting thing because we have a retreat center here and my spiritual director, who grew up at Saddleback, actually went and trained under Jean Vanier too. So I am very excited about that.16
While the term “spiritual director”* or the name Jean Vanier may not mean much to you unless you are versed on contemplative mystical spirituality, this admission by Warren provides conclusive evidence of his endorsement of Roman Catholic monastic mysticism (i.e., contemplative prayer). The fact he mentions he has his “own” spiritual director located at Saddleback who was trained under the leadership of Jean Vanier is even more significant and further unveils Warren’s journey to Rome.
Let’s take a brief look now at Jean Vanier, the man who trained Rick Warren’s spiritual director. This will provide important insights. Vanier (b. 1928) is the Canadian Catholic founder of L’Arche, which is a humanitarian community for disabled people. It is L’Arche where Catholic priest Henri Nouwen spent the last ten years of his life. Vanier is a contemplative mystic who promotes interspirituality and interfaith beliefs, calling the Hindu Mahatma Gandhi “one of the greatest prophets of our times”17 and “a man sent by God.”18 In the book Essential Writings, Vanier talks about “opening doors to other religions” and helping people develop their own faiths be it Hinduism, Christianity, or Islam.19 The book also describes how Vanier read Thomas Merton and practiced and was influenced by the spiritual exercises of the Jesuit founder and mystic St. Ignatius.
Now think about this. To learn through Rick Warren’s interview with Raymond Arroyo that Warren’s own “spiritual director” was trained under Jean Vanier is, at the very least, a key to understanding the long history where Rick Warren has expressed support for contemplative mystics and ecumenical/interspiritual efforts. In Ray Yungen’s book, A Time of Departing, he points out that both Rick and Kay Warren very much admire the writings of Henri Nouwen. As a matter of fact, Yungen has devoted an entire chapter to Rick Warren’s contemplative propensities including his instructions in The Purpose Driven Life on breath prayers. Now that Warren has revealed that his own spiritual director was trained under someone like Jean Vanier, we can better understand the direction Warren is heading.
The New Roman Catholic Evangelization
If the delegation sent to Saddleback from Rome consisted of thirty Bishops, obviously this was a very significant event. What were the delegates discussing with Warren and his team? Warren provides the answer to that question in the interview:
[T]hey were talking about the New Evangelization, and Saddleback has been very effective in reaching [the] secular mindset. Our church is 33 years old. Easter 2014 at Saddleback is our 34th anniversary. And in 34 years, we’ve baptized 38,000 adults. Now, these are adult converts. People with no religious background. People who say, “I was nothing before I came to Saddleback.” So we figured out a way to reach that mindset. And I fully support your Catholic Church’s New Evangelization which basically says we’ve got to re-evangelize people who are Christian in name but not in heart. And they need a new fresh relationship to our Savior.20 (emphasis added)
While Warren provides his stamp of approval on the Roman Catholic New Evangelization program and makes it sound like the purpose is to win converts to Christ, there is much more to the picture than Warren describes. The Roman Catholic New Evangelization program is dedicated to winning converts to the Roman Catholic Eucharistic Christ and obedience to the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church. While Warren may call this “a new fresh relationship to our Savior,” he is overlooking what Catholics must believe in order to be a member of the Catholic Church. Either he is oblivious to this fact or he is ignorant of it. For a man who claims to be a voracious reader and who has a doctorate degree from a theological seminary, it’s hard to believe it’s the latter.
In a commentary I wrote called “Mysticism, Monasticism, and the New Evangelization,” I was able to document that contemplative mysticism provides the catalyst for the New Evangelization. Thus, Rome and Babylon join together to form a new ecumenical Christianity that fits the description of the harlot—the counterfeit bride—described in the book of Revelation, chapter 18.
The facts stare us in the face. Warren’s pathway to Rome is dangerous! Why do so few recognize what is happening? Do you know someone who is caught up in the deception but does not see what is going on? Maybe this would be a good time to pray God’s grace would open their eyes, and they would see the truth of God’s word.
Rick Warren and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy
Some who are reading this report may be asking the question: Why spend so much time and energy on this topic? What is wrong with “America’s Pastor” expressing his support for the Roman Catholic Church and what it stands for?
The answer is simple. Bible-believing Christians are called to “contend for the faith” (Jude 3). When a Christian leader publicly makes statements or endorsements by saying or doing things that contradict the Bible, the leader needs to be addressed in a public manner so those who have been influenced can be put back on track. While many professing Christians who embrace full-blown ecumenical unity with Rome remain silent and see no harm with the direction Warren is heading, we are compelled to sound the alarm.
Thus far in this booklet, I have addressed several critical topics indicating Warren is headed down the road to Rome. Now, I would like to address what is possibly the most blatant endorsement of Roman Catholicism revealed in Warren’s entire interview with EWTN. It was so revealing that even Raymond Arroyo expressed surprise when he asked Warren to comment on the following topic:
Tell me about your—the little breather you take in the day when you watch television. When we first met, you came up to me afterwards—I can’t believe you watch Chaplet of Divine Mercy.21
In response to Arroyo’s comment, Rick Warren expounded:
I’m an avid fan of EWTN. I make no bones about it. I probably watch it more than any Christian channel. Well, you know what? Because you have more, more, uh, shows that relate to history. And if you don’t understand the roots of our faith, that God had been working for 2,000 years, regardless of what brand of believer you are, God has been working for 2,000 years in His church. And if you don’t have those roots, you’re like the cut flower syndrome. Or you’re a tumbleweed.22
If Warren’s main reason for watching the Roman Catholic Eternal Word Television Network is to gain a knowledge and understanding of Christian history, then there is no question he is getting a biased one-sided view. While I admit I do not watch EWTN as much as Warren apparently does (and certainly not for the same reasons), I do know that a major part of Christian history dealing with the Reformation and the Counter-reformation is not one of the favorite topics presented. Perhaps a quick review of Fox’s Book of Martyrs would be a good balance for Warren and a reminder of what happened to Christians who stood up against the pope of Rome and his Jesuit enforcers in the past for believing the Word of God rather than the word of man. People were burned at the stake for saying that Jesus could not be found in a wafer (the Eucharist).23
In the interview, Warren not only stated that EWTN was his favorite Christian television network, he further offered that he had a favorite program he and his wife watch regularly on that network. When I first watched the entire EWTN interview, it was the statement Warren made at this point that primarily motivated me to do this report. If Arroyo was shocked by this revelation, the best way to describe my reaction to his response would be astonished and angry. In Warren’s own words:
One of my favorite shows, which you repeat often is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which I love. And when I’ve had a very stressful day, I’ll come home, I’ve got it taped, and Kay and I will both, we’ll listen. We’ll put it on and just sit back, relax and worship. And in the time of reflection, meditation and quietness, I find myself renewed and restored. So thank you for continuing to play the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.24
Arroyo responds to Warren’s statement, “Thank Mother Angelica.”
Warren then echoes, “Thank you, Mother Angelica.”
“Mother” Mary Angelica (b. 1923) is the founder of the Eternal Word Television Network. Among the programs making up the daily broadcasting schedule is “The Chaplet of Divine Mercy.” A description of this program provides background information:
The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy is a Christian devotion based on the visions of Jesus reported by Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), known as “the Apostle of Mercy.” She was a Polish sister of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and canonized as a Catholic saint in 2000. Faustina stated that she received the prayer through visions and conversations with Jesus, who made specific promises regarding the recitation of the prayers. Her Vatican biography quotes some of these conversations. As a Roman Catholic devotion, the chaplet is often said as a rosary-based prayer with the same set of rosary beads used for reciting the Holy Rosary or the Chaplet of Holy Wounds, in the Roman Catholic Church. As an Anglican devotion, The Divine Mercy Society of the Anglican Church states that the chaplet can also be recited on Anglican prayer beads. The chaplet may also be said without beads, usually by counting prayers on the fingertips, and may be accompanied by the veneration of the Divine Mercy image.25
Note the reference to “the veneration of the Divine Mercy image,” which is an essential component of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Consider this further documentation that will clarify that idolatry is the only way to describe what is taking place:
The earliest element of the Devotion to the Divine Mercy revealed to St. Faustina was the Image. On February 22nd, 1931 Jesus appeared to her with rays radiating from His heart and said, Paint an image according to the pattern you see, with the signature: Jesus I trust in You. I desire that this image be venerated, first in your chapel, and throughout the world. (Diary 47)
I promise that the soul that will venerate this image will not perish. I also promise victory over its enemies already here on earth, especially at the hour of death. I myself will defend it as My own glory. (Diary 48) I am offering people a vessel with which they are to keep coming for graces to the fountain of mercy. That vessel is this image with the signature “Jesus, I trust in You.” (Diary 327)26
One could contend that Warren was just “making conversation” with Arroyo or even making a joke when he made the claim that The Chaplet of the Divine Mercy was his favorite “Christian” television program. But he has never made a public statement refuting or withdrawing his statements. Plus, he gave such detail in his account. If this is what he truly believes, if he was speaking the truth to Arroyo, then he is defying the God of the Bible and willingly ignoring the commandment in the Bible that states:
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. (Exodus 20:4)
I took the time to watch several Chaplet of the Divine Mercy programs posted on the Internet. Staring at images of “Christ” or worshipping a monstrance containing the supposed body of Christ while repeating the rosary did not bring peace and relaxation for me as Warren claims it did for him. It does not take a great deal of discernment to realize these unbiblical practices are rooted in paganism.**
The Bottom Line
There’s no other way to put it, Rick Warren is on a dangerous path away from sound biblical doctrine toward an ecumenical apostate form of Christianity with Rome that has the potential to lead many astray.
What does it mean “to earnestly contend for the faith”? Is sound biblical doctrine being compromised for the sake of unity in the church today? When a pastor endorses a television program that promotes idolatry, shouldn’t that pastor be called out or at least asked to give a public repeal of his earlier endorsements?
The facts have been presented and a hypothesis can be formulated that leads to a reasonable conclusion. My prayer is that the damage done to biblical Christianity can be corrected through open repentance and public statements that set the record straight by Warren himself and those who follow him.
The Warren-Arroyo EWTN interview that first aired on YouTube on April 11, 2014 provides many insights regarding the “New Evangelicalism” that is presently unfolding. Rather than lines being drawn in the sand, walls are coming down, and ecumenical unity is being established. If Rick Warren and his followers represent the direction many Protestants are heading, it is only a matter of time for the coming one-world ecumenical religion to be established. The Jesuit plan to bring the “separated brethren home to Rome” will have been accomplished. Those who refuse to follow will be singled out and considered “heretics” who are ruining the P.E.A.C.E. process. Is it possible that persecution for these “resistors” is in store.
To order copies of Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much, click here.
* A term used in contemplative spirituality as one who can help you “discern” the voices you are hearing in the contemplative “silence.”
** I have decided the best way to confirm this point is to provide an Internet link to an actual Chaplet of Divine Mercy service so you can see with your own eyes what Warren and his wife Kay consider a “Christian” devotional. This is only one of many programs that you can watch that all show the same thing. Please check out this 8 minute video clip of a Chaplet of the Divine Mercy program. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__RbWgxA2G0.
1. The interview can be viewed by clicking on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dVCY8pW-ACs.
2. For more information on the Roman Catholic Church’s New Evangelization program, read Roger’s book, Another Jesus.
3. You can see a transcript of this portion of the interview, Section 1, here: http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/transcripts/rwinterview1.shtml.
5. See Faith Undone (Roger Oakland), A Time of Departing (Ray Yungen), and Deceived on Purpose (Warren B. Smith) for documented information.
6. Gerald May, The Awakened Heart (New York, NY:Harper Collins, First Harper Collins Paperback Edition, 1993) p. 87, citing from The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, translated by John Delaney, Image Books, 1977, p. 34.
7. For numerous actual quotes by Teresa of Avila, read Castles in the Sand by Carolyn A. Greene (a Lighthouse Trails novel based on the life of Teresa of Avila and a modern-day college girl).
8. See http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/johnofthecross.htm.
9. Transcript, section 1, op. cit.
11. Transcript, section 3: http://www.understandthetimes.org/audio%20commentary/transcripts/rwinterview3.shtml.
14. Rick Warren, PEW Forum, Key West, Florida, May 23, 2005, http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=80.
15. Transcript, section 4: http://www.understandthetimes.org/audio%20commentary/transcripts/rwinterview4.shtml.
17. Jean Vanier, Essential Writings (Orbis Books, 2008), p. 62.
18. Ibid., p. 76.
21. Transcript, section 5: http://www.understandthetimes.org/audio%20commentary/transcripts/rwinterview5.shtml.
23. See the story of Mrs. Prest in the Lighthouse Trails edition of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs. Some editions of Foxe’s Book of Martyrs have omitted stories of papal persecution.
24. Transcript, section 5, op. cit.
Editor’s Note: Since Roger Oakland wrote this report in 2014, several high prolific Christian leaders, including Rick Warren, have moved further along the dangerous ecumenical path to Rome. You may find articles about these situations written by Lighthouse Trails authors in our print research journal (see copyright page of this booklet) as well as our research site (www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com).
To order copies of Rick Warren’s Dangerous Ecumenical Pathway to Rome And How One Interview Revealed So Much, click here.
Pope Francis and the Thomas Merton Connection 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 Pope Francis and the Thomas Merton Connection, click here.
After writing this booklet at my publisher’s headquarters in Montana, I learned that the Parliament of the World Religions was taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah that same week. I decided to head down there, and with a media pass, was able to enter the conference. What I experienced at the conference has confirmed to me that Pope Francis is without question an ardent interspiritualist on the same page as Thomas Merton.—Ray Yungen
Pope Francis and the Thomas Merton Connection
In 2013, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected Pope Francis the First. This new pope immediately began causing ripples in the Catholic Church with his statements on certain issues. He also caused many to take notice of his unpapal lifestyle such as living in a guesthouse with twelve others rather than living in the papal apartments like previous popes. He projects a down-to-earth image that denotes compassion and trust. He has been called the people’s pope, someone who is your friend, someone you can trust. But there are certain things about Pope Francis’ coming on the scene that are being ignored by the media and most people.
The first of these are the unusual circumstances that surrounded his election to the papacy. Pope Benedict resigned from his position as Pope. He is the first Catholic pope to do this since the 1400s. Popes do not resign but rather continue to be popes until they die. There was no obvious reason for Pope Benedict to resign. There was no scandal, nor no immediate health issue. (Two years into Pope Francis’ reign, Benedict is still alive.)
The second is the number of books about Pope Francis that have been released since he came on the scene. Previous popes had perhaps one or two books about them or by them. But books by or about Pope Francis are extremely prolific. You see them everywhere. Many of these books use descriptions such as revolution and hope.
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 I am correct in my conclusions about contemplative spirituality and its outcome, then what is happening here is an occurrence that will affect the lives of millions of people, both Catholic and non-Catholic.
In his speech to the U.S. Congress on September 24th, 2015, Pope Francis praised four Americans he admired.1 One in particular stood out from the perspective of the spiritual future of the world—the Catholic monk, Thomas Merton. If you have been reading Lighthouse Trails literature for any length of time, you will know this reference by the pope is quite sobering and very significant. It is this situation that this booklet will be discussing.
Who is Thomas Merton? (1915-1968)
What Martin Luther King was to the civil rights movement and what Henry Ford was to the automobile, Thomas Merton is to contemplative prayer. Although this prayer movement existed centuries before he came along, Merton, a Trappist monk of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, took it out of its monastic setting and made it available to, and popular with, the masses. I personally have been researching Thomas Merton and the contemplative prayer movement for over 20 years, and for me, hands down, Thomas Merton has influenced the Christian mystical movement more than any person of recent decades.
Merton penned one of the most classic descriptions of contemplative spirituality I have ever come across. He explained:
It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race . . . now I realize what we all are. . . . If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are . . . I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other. . . . At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth. . . . This little point . . . is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody. 2 (emphasis mine)
This panentheistic (i.e., God in everyone) view is similar to the occultic definition of the higher self.
In order to understand Merton’s connection to mystical occultism, we need first to understand a sect of the Muslim world—the Sufis, who are the mystics of Islam. They chant the name of Allah as a mantra, go into meditative trances, and experience God in everything. A prominent Catholic audiotape company promotes a series of cassettes Merton did on Sufism. It explains:
Merton loved and shared a deep spiritual kinship with the Sufis, the spiritual teachers and mystics of Islam. Here he shares their profound spirituality.3
To further show Merton’s “spiritual kinship” with Sufism, in a letter to a Sufi Master, Merton disclosed, “My prayer tends very much to what you call fana.”4 So what is fana? The Dictionary of Mysticism and the Occult defines it as “the act of merging with the Divine Oneness”5 (meaning all is one and all is God).
Merton saw the Sufi concept of fana as being a catalyst for Muslim unity with Christianity despite the obvious doctrinal differences. In a dialogue with a Sufi leader, Merton asked about the Muslim concept of salvation. The master wrote back stating:
Islam inculcates individual responsibility for one’s actions and does not subscribe to the doctrine of atonement or the theory of redemption.6 (emphasis added)
To Merton, of course, this meant little because he believed that fana and contemplation were the same thing. He responded:
Personally, in matters where dogmatic beliefs [the atonement]differ, I think that controversy is of little value because it takes us away from the spiritual realities into the realm of words and ideas . . . in words there are apt to be infinite complexities and subtleties which are beyond resolution. . . . But much more important is the sharing of the experience of divine light . . . It is here that the area of fruitful dialogue exists between Christianity and Islam.7 (emphasis mine)
Merton himself underlined that point when he told a group of contemplative women:
I’m deeply impregnated with Sufism.8
And he elaborated elsewhere:
Asia, Zen, Islam, etc., all these things come together in my life. It would be madness for me to attempt to create a monastic life for myself by excluding all these. I would be less a monk.9 (emphasis mine)
When we evaluate Merton’s mystical worldview, it clearly resonates with what technically would be considered traditional New Age thought. This is an inescapable fact!
Merton’s mystical experiences ultimately made him a kindred spirit and co-mystic with those in Eastern religions because his insights were identical to their insights. At an interfaith conference in Thailand, he stated:
I believe that by openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism, and to these great Asian [mystical] traditions, we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own Christian traditions.10
Please understand that contemplative prayer alone was the catalyst for such theological views. One of Merton’s biographers 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.11
This was the ripe fruit of the Desert Fathers, the ancient monks who borrowed mystical methods from Eastern religion, which altered their understanding of God. This is what one gets from contemplative prayer. There is no other way to put it. It does not take being a scholar to see the logic in this.
Contemplative Prayer and The Expansion of the Catholic Church
The most obvious integration of this movement can be found in Roman Catholicism. Michael Leach, former president of the Catholic Book Publishers Association, made this incredibly candid assertion:
[M]any people also believe that the spiritual principles underlying the New Age movement will soon be incorporated—or rather reincorporated—into the mainstream of Catholic belief. In fact, it’s happening in the United States right now.12
Incorporating it is! And it is assimilating primarily through the contemplative prayer movement.
Contemplative leader Basil Pennington, openly acknowledging its growing size, said, “We are part of an immensely large community … ‘We are Legion.’”13 Backing him up, a major Catholic resource company stated, “Contemplative prayer has once again become commonplace in the Christian community.”14
William Shannon (a mysticism proponent and a sympathetic biographer of Thomas Merton) went so far as to say “contemplative spirituality has now widely replaced old-style Catholicism.”15 This is not to say the Mass or any of the sacraments have been abandoned, but the underlying spiritual ideology of many in the Catholic church is now contemplative in its orientation.
One of my personal experiences with the saturation of mysticism in the Catholic church was in a phone conversation I had with the head nun at a local retreat center who told me the same message Shannon conveys. She made it clear The Cloud of Unknowing (an ancient primer on contemplative prayer) is now the basis for nearly all Catholic spirituality, and contemplative prayer is now becoming widespread all over the world.
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. Speaking of a meeting between the late Pope Paul VI and members of the Catholic Trappist Monastic Order in the 1970s, Thomas Keating, disclosed the following:
The Pontiff declared that unless the Church rediscovered the contemplative tradition, renewal couldn’t take place. He specifically called upon the monastics, because they lived the contemplative life, to help the laity and those in other religious orders bring that dimension into their lives as well.16
Just look at the official catechism of the Catholic church to see contemplative prayer officially endorsed and promoted to the faithful by the powers that be. The catechism firmly states: “Contemplative prayer is hearing the word of God … Contemplative prayer is silence.”17
The Merton Paradigm
A 2013 article from the UK news source The Telegraph states:
[Pope] Francis is a Jesuit and his long, arduous formation as a priest was founded on the Spiritual Exercises of St Ignatius.18
The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) reaffirmed the pope’s “Ignatian spirituality,” stating that:
All Jesuits share the experience of a rigorous spiritual formation process marked by a transformative experience with the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits. To think that the leader of the Catholic Church is one who follows in the tradition of Ignatius, whose life has been devoted to finding God in all things, and who is committed to the service of faith and the promotion of justice, fills me with great hope. This is a great day for the Jesuits and the worldwide Church.19
Harvey D. Egan, S.J., Professor Emeritus of Systematic and Mystical Theology at Boston College explains the following about St. Ignatius of Loyola:
Ignatius of Loyola . . . is one of the Christian tradition’s profoundest mystics and perhaps its greatest mystagogue [one who teaches mystical doctrines].20
Today, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius incorporate contemplative prayer practices. Considering that Ignatian spirituality compliments much of Thomas Merton’s spiritual outlook, it is not surprising that a Jesuit pope would say the following words to the U.S. Congress:
[Thomas Merton] remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. . . . Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church.21 (emphasis added)
The problem is that Merton did indeed open new horizons, but not in a good way. The horizons he opened were to “spiritual realities” that were at odds with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Rather, it reflected an interspiritual perception and even beyond that into the realm of the occult. In the book The Aquarian Conspiracy, the following information shows just how far Merton had crossed the line into realms that were spiritually dangerous.
In 1967, Barbara Marx Hubbard, a futurist moved by Teilhard’s vision evolving human consciousness, invited a thousand people from around the world . . . to form “a human front” to those who shared a belief in the possibility of transcendent consciousness. Hundreds responded, including . . . Thomas Merton.22
Even though Marx Hubbard was an outright occultist, Merton still was on board with her. There didn’t seem to be any hesitancy on his part to embrace what she referred to as transcendent consciousness. In a nutshell, transcendent consciousness is the very essence of the teaching of all the world’s mystical traditions that God is in all that exists. But consider the implications of such a belief: If God were in everything, including all people, as Merton and Hubbard believed, then there would be no need for Jesus to die for the sins of the world to reconcile man to God because man would already be divine.
The account that best illustrates what outcome this could have for Christianity is the story of Sue Monk Kidd who was a Southern Baptist Sunday school teacher in a small town in South Carolina. She would have been seen as an average Christian wife and mother. She gives a revealing description of her spiritual transformation in her book God’s Joyful Surprise: Finding Yourself Loved sharing how she suffered a deep hollowness and spiritual hunger for many years even though she was very active in her church. She sums up her feelings:
Maybe we sense we’re disconnected from God somehow. He becomes superfluous to the business at hand. He lives on the periphery so long we begin to think that is where He belongs. Anything else seems unsophisticated or fanatical.23
Ironically, a Sunday school co-worker handed her a book by Thomas Merton, telling her she needed to read it. Once Monk Kidd read it, her life changed dramatically.
In her third book, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, not too many years after she wrote her first two books (which by the way were widely accepted in Christian circles, including a back cover endorsement by Moody Monthly magazine), there had been a dramatic change in her spiritual life as you can see in this narrative she wrote:
The minister was preaching. He was holding up a Bible. It was open, perched atop his raised hand as if a blackbird had landed there. He was saying that the Bible was the sole and ultimate authority of the Christian’s life. The sole and ultimate authority.
I remember a feeling rising up from a place about two inches below my navel. It was a passionate, determined feeling, and it spread out from the core of me like a current so that my skin vibrated with it. If feelings could be translated into English, this feeling would have roughly been the word no!
It was the purest inner knowing I had experienced, and it was shouting in me no, no, no! The ultimate authority of my life is not the Bible; it is not confined between the covers of a book. It is not something written by men and frozen in time. It is not from a source outside myself. My ultimate authority is the divine voice in my own soul. Period.24
Now Sue Monk Kidd worships the “Goddess Sophia” rather than Jesus Christ:
We also need Goddess consciousness to reveal earth’s holiness. . . . Matter becomes inspirited; it breathes divinity. Earth becomes alive and sacred. . . . Goddess offers us the holiness of everything.25
During his speech to the US Congress, Pope Francis said that Thomas Merton sowed peace in the “contemplative style.” But actually, Merton did something far different than sow peace; he sowed the actual belief systems of other religions as these two quotes below illustrate:
The God [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment.26
In other words, Merton found Buddhist enlightenment in contemplative prayer. Merton’s view that God is in every person is summed up in this statement:
During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: “How can we best help people to attain union with God?” His answer was very clear: “We must tell them that they are already united with God. Contemplative prayer is nothing other than ‘coming into consciousness’ of what is already there.”27
Even influential Catholic leaders recognize this and refer to Merton as being a “lapsed monk” who “went ‘wandering in the East, seeking consolation, apparently, of non-Christian, Eastern spirituality.’”28
These new horizons by Thomas Merton that Pope Francis has found to be exemplar are going to lead to an even greater slide into interspirituality within Catholicism and even evangelical Christianity. In essence, those who are flocking to Pope Francis, as Christianity Today stated, are inadvertently flocking to Thomas Merton.
After writing this booklet at my publisher’s headquarters in Montana, I learned that the Parliament of the World Religions was taking place in Salt Lake City, Utah that same week. I decided to head down there, and with a media pass, was able to enter the conference. What I experienced at the conference has confirmed to me that Pope Francis is without question an ardent interspiritualist and on the same page as Thomas Merton. In one document I read (a letter written to all the conference participants by Archbishop Carlo Maria Bigano Vatican Ambassador to the U.S.), the Archbishop stated:
United to all of you in a bond of spiritual communion and in hope of increasing unity among all people of faith, the Holy Father offers his blessing and prayers as a pledge of strength and God.29 (emphasis added)
“Spiritual communion” is not referring to human kindness and respect to all people. This “spiritual communion” is where doctrines and beliefs are set aside, and a unity is established just as Thomas Merton suggested to the Sufi master (see page 5).
At the conference, I heard terms (in connection with the Pope, the Catholic Church, and all the world’s religions) such as “oneness,” “dialogue of fraternity,” and “he [Pope Francis] is a buddha” (said by a Buddhist monk); and the general consensus was that anyone who was not in favor of such a unity was spiritually wayward.
When Thomas Merton told the Sufi master that doctrine takes us away from the “spiritual realities” (a mystical state of oneness), he said “much more important is the sharing of the experience of divine light.” In other words, beliefs must be set aside, and in their place is a unity that can be reached through mysticism. All of the world’s major religions have a practice that offers this mystical state.
Just as Merton saw “fana” (Islamic mystical state) as one of the paths to spiritual unity, Pope Francis sees the various religions as one family. He is bringing Thomas Merton’s ideas of unity to the table of global unity among all humanity. Thomas Merton’s “contemplative style” (that Pope Francis referenced to Congress) saw no contradiction between Christianity and Buddhism; and Merton said he wanted to be the best Buddhist he could possibly be.30 When Pope Francis praised Thomas Merton (knowing full well the implications of this), he gave a green light for everyone to embrace interspirituality. And where there is interspirituality, there is no place for the Cross of Jesus Christ.
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1. Pope Francis’ speech to the U.S. Congress in September 2015: http://time.com/4048176/pope-francis-us-visit-congress-transcript.
2. Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Publishers, 1989), pp. 157-158.
3. Credence Cassettes magazine, Winter/Lent, 1998, p. 24.
4. M. Basil Pennington, Thomas Merton, My Brother (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 1996), p. 115, citing from The Hidden Ground of Love), pp. 63-64.
5. Nevill Drury, The Dictionary of Mysticism and the Occult (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1985), p. 85.
6. Rob Baker and Gray Henry, Editors, Merton and Sufism (Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999), p. 109.
7. Ibid., p. 110.
8. Ibid., p. 69.
9. Ibid., p. 41.
10. William Shannon, Silent Lamp, The Thomas Merton Story (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1992), p. 276.
11. Ibid., p. 281.
12. Michael Leach (America, May 2, 1992), p. 384.
13. M. Basil Pennington, Centered Living: The Way of Centering Prayer (New York, NY: Doubleday Publishing, Image Book edition, September 1988), p. 10.
14. Sheed & Ward Catalog, Winter/Lent, 1978, p. 12.
15. William Shannon, Seeds of Peace (New York, NY: Crossroad Publishing, 1996), p. 25.
16. Anne A. Simpson, “Resting in God” (Common Boundary magazine, Sept./Oct. 1997, http://www.livingrosaries.org/interview.htm), p. 25.
17. Catechism of the Catholic Church (Urbi et Orbi Communications, 1994), p. 652.
18. Charles More, “A New Pope, a New Primate and a New Life for Christianity” (The Telegraph, March 15, 2013, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/9932996/A-new-Pope-a-new-Primate-anda-new-life-for-Christianity.html).
19. From the AJCU website stated by John Hurley, JD (president Canisius College), “Statements on Pope Francis’ Election from Presidents of AJCU and Jesuit Institutions” (March 14, 2013 http://web.archive.org/web/20150325025014/http://www.ajcunet.edu/news-detail?TN=NEWS-20130314084452).
20. Harvey D. Egan, Soundings in the Christian Mystical Tradition (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2010), p. 227.
21. Pope Francis’ speech to the U.S. Congress in September 2015: http://time.com/4048176/pope-francis-us-visit-congress-transcript.
22. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Archer, 1980), p. 57.
23. Sue Monk Kidd, God’s Joyful Surprise (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1987), p. 56.
24. Sue Monk Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1996), p. 76.
25. Ibid., pp. 162-163.
26. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing, 1996), p. 76.
27. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 1996, Revised Edition), p. 211.
28. Deborah Halter, “Whose Orthodoxy Is It? (National Catholic Reporter, March 11, 2005, http://natcath.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2005a/031105/031105a.php).
29. Can be read at: https://cadeioparliament.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/message-to-pwr.pdf.
30. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
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The Mystical Revolution: How Millions of People Have Been Introduced to the Aquarian Age by Ray Yungen s 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 The Mystical Revolution: How Millions of People Have Been Introduced to the Aquarian Age, click here.
By Ray Yungen
Most people understand there’s been a number of revolutions over the past forty years or so, beginning in the ’60s. For instance, there’s been the sexual revolution, the feminist revolution, and what you might call the drug revolution. These were social movements that changed and altered society to a significant degree . Before this time period, people more or less stayed with convention. They more or less conformed to society’s expectations and codes of behavior. There were technical revolutions and philosophical revolutions in the past, but the revolutions we have had since the 1960s have turned society in a totally new direction.
What many people don’t comprehend (or may understand in a vague or limited way) is that there has also been a mystical revolution. This revolution has impacted every major area of society, without exception. This is not a conspiracy theory. We are not talking about assertions of which we expect you to take our word. What we present here can be proven. In this booklet, you will see how the dots are connected.
A number of credible authors and scholars have documented this mystical revolution, three to which I would like to draw your attention. The first is Dr. James A. Herrick, a professor at Hope College and the author of The Making of the New Spirituality. In his book, Herrick says that the “Revealed Word” tradition (basically that which embraces the fundamental beliefs of Christianity) is being slowly dismantled in society and replaced by the New Age spirituality. His book is probably the most in-depth and scholarly I have yet seen. Herrick states:
[T]he past three centuries have witnessed a stunning shift in Western religious thinking away from the tenets [of Christianity]. . . . a new set of religious commitments has now replaced the fundamental claims of the Revealed Word.1
Herrick calls this replacement the “New Religious Synthesis,” which incorporates “the spiritualization of science” (i.e., quantum spirituality), panentheism (God in all things), occultic practices, “spiritual evolution” (man becoming Divine), and interspirituality (all paths lead to God) through mysticism.
Another figure who has recognized this mystical revolution is Robert C. Fuller, Professor of Religious Studies at Bradley University. According to Fuller’s book, Spiritual But Not Religious, huge numbers of Americans have embraced what he refers to as “unchurched” spirituality, which is in effect, New Age spirituality. Fuller says that millions of Americans no longer identify with the traditional religious denominations but now say they are “spiritual but not religious,” which is an unstructured mystical spirituality that is at the very heart of what I call the mystical revolution.2
A third author who has identified this mystical revolution is New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. In his 2012 book, Bad Religion, he states:
America’s problem isn’t too much religion, or too little of it. It’s bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional Christianity and the rise of a variety of destructive pseudo-Christianities in its place.3
To back up the conclusions of Herrick, Fuller, and Douthat, according to a survey done by Baylor University, nearly 25 percent of the American population now view God as a “cosmic force” rather than a personal being.4
All this indicates that something unprecedented is taking place. Traditionally and overall, people in the Western world have seen God as our Father who art in heaven. God has been an individual and a personal being with all that this entails.
For those who might be skeptical about just how widespread this mystical paradigm shift is, consider some of the country’s major bookstore outlets. Amazon has around 280,000 titles that deal with New Age/New Spirituality subjects. When Borders was still in business, their metaphysical section in some stores was up to 64 shelves. Going by the law of the market (i.e., supply and demand), this means enormous numbers of people are interested.
What is Mysticism?
Readers who are not familiar with this subject may be asking, what exactly is a mystical revolution? Simply put, this is merely the practice of one stopping the normal flow of thought by focusing on the breath or a repeated sound (such as repeating a word or phrase for twenty minutes) or a continuous drum beat. This is meant to propel an individual into a state called the silence, which makes him or her susceptible to communing with unseen realities they perceive to be supernatural in nature.
The mystical revolution is basically comprised of large numbers of people learning techniques that provide mystical experiences. This is at the heart of what is called the Age of Aquarius, where all humanity is linked in a mystical manner to one other and an ultimate authority figure, both seen and unseen.
This revolution actually started about the same time as the drug revolution in the 1960s when millions of teenagers and young adults started using marijuana and LSD. Psychedelic drug use became a widespread social movement, which is reflected by the fact that many of the songs at that time had reference to drugs and psychedelic themes.
Psychedelic drug use opened the door to interest in eastern religion—specifically Hindu and Buddhist meditation. The Beatles album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band had a reference to this in the song, “Within You, Without You.” One of the lines in the song is “it’s all within you.” In other words, everything you need is already contained in you (i.e., your higher self), which is one of the tenets of mysticism. Even the famous Woodstock Music Festival was advertised as an Aquarian exposition. The word Aquarian is a term for the Age of Aquarius, which is the view that we’re moving out of the Piscean age into the Aquarian age. In this Aquarian Age, there will be a certain spiritual keynote or spiritual perception among a critical mass of humanity. This was made apparent when Swami Satchidananda opened Woodstock with a lecture given to half a million young people in the audience (you can actually see this if you rent the movie Woodstock).
After Satchidananda’s Woodstock “benediction,” things unfolded quickly. Transcendental Meditation (T.M.) became widely popular due to its founder Maharishi being on the Merv Griffin Show, a popular talk show of that time. Merv Griffin was actually a T.M. practitioner himself and even acknowledged it on the show.
Other gurus surfaced as well. Swami Muktananda was also extremely well received in the ’70s and would travel around touching people in the middle of the forehead with a peacock feather activating their third eye. They would then have mystical experiences. He reached literally hundreds of thousands with his message.
This advent of mysticism was becoming very apparent in our culture. Terms like mantra, karma, and high consciousness were being used. This was somewhat of a novelty—people were hearing about things they never thought about before.
As we moved into the 1980s, popular actress Shirley MacLaine became associated with these practices because she was converted to this view. She wrote about it in both of her autobiographies, Out on a Limb and Dancing in the Light. Each one of these books sold millions of copies and successfully introduced occultic concepts such as channeling to countless people who were not yet familiar with such practices. These were not the hippies or the counter-culture types but were everyday folks: teachers, blue-collar workers, business men and women, and such. This, in turn, generated a lot of interest from the average person in the Western world. It was the 1980s when the New Age became quite a phenomenon.
The Christian Response
In 1983, a Christian attorney from Detroit, Constance Cumbey, wrote a book titled The Hidden Dangers of the Rainbow after she accidentally stumbled upon the New Age. Cumbey was basically the first person within the evangelical church to expose the New Age as a movement. There had been many books on cults, like Kingdom of the Cults or Guidebook for Cults. But Cumbey’s book focused on individuals working within various organizations, who rather than drawing people away to cults, attempted to turn the organizations themselves into spiritual organizations that reflected the new paradigm. The book that alarmed Cumbey was the book by Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy (an influential New Age manifesto at the time), which described people who had become aware of these other dimensions and were working to become “Aquarian conspirators” (as Ferguson called them) and bring everyone else into this mystical body. They were the pioneers or the avant-garde in this new wave of consciousness.
But then the term New Age became a worn-out buzzword. The people who promoted New Age beliefs stopped using the term. As a result of this tactic, Christian concerns died out, and people saw the New Age movement as a kind of fad that was fast disappearing. I’ve always wondered about books, such as Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness (immensely popular during that period), as to whether they had something to do with this dismissal of the New Age as a fictional fantasy and perhaps nothing more than a silly craze. It seems the initial alarm dissipated because people perceived the mystical revolution as non-relevant. A trip to your local Christian bookstore today will illustrate this point. In the section that deals with cults or apologetics, you will find books dealing with Mormonism, atheism, Islam, and so forth, but you will find almost nothing on the mystical revolution even though it has actually exploded and become embraced by a wide segment of the population.
In 1986, something very significant happened that helped turn unknown New Age writers into world-famous household names—the Oprah Winfrey Show began. Oprah had read a book by Unity minister Eric Butterworth and converted to the New Age mystical paradigm. Then in the ’90s, she dedicated her show to the New Age concepts of higher consciousness. In 1992, Oprah invited a woman named Marianne Williamson on her show. Williamson had written a book titled Return to Love, which was based on the channeled manual A Course in Miracles. To help launch Williamson’s message, Oprah gave away 10,000 copies of A Return to Love, resulting in 70,000 copies of the book selling within the first week after the show. Needless to say, Oprah was very excited about this book.
Oprah soon had a who’s who parade of New Age authors on her show. She highlighted a series of authors, most of whom went on to sell millions of books. She had Sarah Ban Breathnach, the author of Simple Abundance, and Iyanla Vanzant. And then, Oprah had one of the individuals I would consider the most indicative of this movement—Gary Zukav. Because of his regular appearances on the Oprah Show, his book, The Seat of the Soul, was at the top of the New York Times best-seller list 31 times and remained on the New York Times best-seller list for three years. Needless to say, it has sold millions of copies.
Zukav’s book was not the kind of book most people normally would have bought; it could be likened to a scholarly textbook, rather than the kind of book that would appeal to the masses.
There were many others also reaching the broad public. And by public, I mean this in the truest sense of the word. Public television began to advocate the New Age perspective. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, John Bradshaw was appearing on public television on a show called “Bradshaw on the Family.” Bradshaw had been trained in Hindu meditation by Dennis Weaver, the actor who played Chester on the 1960s television Gunsmoke. Bradshaw then passed on this knowledge to his viewers and readers, talking about meditation and the higher self. (Higher self is a term meaning the inner divinity or the god within every person.)
Deepak Chopra, an East Indian-American doctor, was another figure on public television quite often. Chopra promoted holistic health. But the most prominent and effective figure on public television, who was on for twelve years during pledge drives, is author Wayne Dyer. One could legitimately call him the Billy Graham of New Age spirituality. He had a deep booming voice and a commanding presence, which gave him an air of authority. But his message could best be summed up in one of his numerous books titled Your Sacred Self. Again, his message was always in the vein of mysticism—that if one did meditation one would achieve connection with the higher self. Like Bradshaw, Dyer reached millions of people through this venue. He literally personified the mystical revolution. In all, he has sold around 50 million books. He died in August of 2015 at the age of 75, but his books and teachings will live on.
Dr. Dyer’s publisher was Hay House, a publishing company started by a woman named Louise Hay who wrote a book called You Can Heal Your Life that sold 40 million copies. Hay became so wealthy that she was able to start her own publishing company. Today, Hay House is one of the largest New Age publishing companies.
The logo for Hay House is “look within.” In other words, everything you need is right inside of you. This is in line with the lyrics of “Within You, Without You,” the song by George Harrison of The Beatles—“it’s all within you.” As I stated earlier, these words are the theme of what New Age spirituality entails. In the Age of Aquarius, the message is when man “realizes” his own divinity, everyone will find “God” within themselves.
One could say, “Well, to each his own. We live in a pluralistic society. If people want to believe this stuff, they can. It may sound flaky or somewhat offbeat or eccentric, but I don’t care if other people believe this stuff. It won’t affect me at all. I’ll follow Jesus, and I’ll be a good Christian. There’ll still be plenty of good Christians around. Just because there’s this flaky religion out there doesn’t mean I should get excited about it.”
But here is what needs to be considered: when you look behind the curtain, you see things extremely disturbing. For instance, in the acknowledgments of popular author Iyanla Vanzant’s book, In the Meantime, she thanks her spirit guides, giving them each names. This is true of practically every major author in this movement. And then, there is Gary Zukav. The main theme of his books is that we need to turn our lives over to our non-physical guides (spirits) and teachers. Sarah Ben Breathnach was involved with Wicca and also had non-physical guides and teachers. In her book, Simple Abundance, she says spells cast on Halloween are more powerful than any other night in the year. That book sold five million copies.
Even the highly regarded and influential Wayne Dyer expressed his love and devotion to a group of non-physical entities who called themselves “Abraham” in a book for which he wrote the foreword.5
I could give numerous other examples than the ones just mentioned, but that would be redundant. This is not the exception; this is the rule. Perhaps the most noteworthy would be that of Louise Hay, founder of Hay House Publishers. Hay has a particular devotion to one of the non-physical guides and teachers whom Gary Zukav talks about, a spirit guide named Seth. Channeler Jane Roberts has authored several “Seth books.” Of those books, Hay states:
I would like to see the Seth books as required reading for anyone on their spiritual pathway. The amazing in-depth information in the Seth books is as relevant today as it was in the early 70s when Jane Roberts first channeled this material.6
This is sobering considering that practically every third or fourth book in the self-help section of most bookstores is published by Hay House.
Europe Gets on Board
In 2014, I traveled to Europe, specifically England, Ireland, and Germany for a number of speaking engagements. I was shocked to see the level of New Age acceptance in these countries. I didn’t get a real sense of how big this was until I went to a number of bookstores. In Dublin, Ireland at the city’s largest bookstore, there were 80 shelves devoted to mind, body, spirit (the “non-threatening” term for New Age spirituality). Traveling around Ireland, I found that New Age spirituality was the prominent spiritual expression even in little villages scattered around the countryside. I was expecting to find lots of books on Catholicism; instead, I found many books by the likes of Neale Donald Walsch, a New Age channeler.
Dusseldorf, Germany’s major bookstore absolutely reflected the mystical revolution I am trying to describe. Eighty-eight shelves were devoted to these subjects, which they called zie esoterik (German word for occult). It was then I was introduced to the German word for spirit guide, geist fürer.
Finally, in Birmingham, England (the second largest city in England), the largest bookstore in the center of town had a whopping 100 shelves devoted to the New Age compared to only twelve shelves devoted to Christianity. And in that small “Christian” section, many of the titles reflected the New Age view rather than the Christian.
This coincides with my experience in Germany, because right at the time I was there, I read an article that came out, which stated that Germans spend 25 billion euros a year on New Age activities and things related to the New Age. Twenty-five billion! The article said that New Age practices have become integrated into everyday life in Germany. Integrated and very common.
I had further evidence of that when I was in a large retail outlet in Germany called Hercules (the equivalent of the U.S. outlet, Walmart). The store’s large magazine section contained a sizeable number of New Age magazines, indicating the public was interested in these subjects.
In a 2013 trip to Europe, I saw the same level of interest in France. In one large bookstore, a small religion section was mostly Catholic, with a much larger section representing the entire panoply of New Age thought and practice.
All this shouldn’t be much of a surprise because the most popular spiritual author in Europe, Anselm Grün, has a strong New Age bent. Grün, a German Benedictine monk, promotes contact with spirit guides, getting in touch with “your angels,” and Buddhist-type meditation. Grün has written over 300 titles, which have sold over 14 million copies.
Clearly, from my own observation and from talking to people who live there, the mystical revolution is considerably more advanced in Europe than the U.S., although as time goes on, the gap is narrowing.
In addition to Europe, America’s neighbor to the north, Canada, has also heavily embraced this mystical revolution to roughly the same degree. In one national chain bookstore in the suburbs of Vancouver, BC, the number of shelves devoted to New Age spirituality has more than doubled in just a few years from twenty to forty-five.
Many people, including numerous Christians, see the New Age as more of a nuisance to Christianity than a serious threat. But according to New Age pundit David Spangler, this mystical revolution is actually the rise of what he refers to as a “planetary spirituality,”7 one that the entire human race buys into, one that transcends all the world’s religious dogmas and puts forth the idea that all human beings are divine.
This philosophy also carries another dimension as explained in Spangler’s book, Emergence: Rebirth of the Sacred where he explains how he came about connecting to “invisible, spiritual beings,”8 specifically one who called himself “John” (for the sake of convenience). Spangler said that during periods of meditation, he felt his own “inner being and [this spirit guide] uniting in a very deep way.”9 Spangler’s description of his relationship with “John” is most revealing:
I felt strongly that someone had walked into the room. This person’s presence was overwhelming. . . . In my inner work to that time, I had occasionally been aware of and made contact with invisible, spiritual beings. Such phenomena came with the territory [meditation]. . . I had never before felt such a strong and immediate presence.
I shared this perception with Myrtle [his friend], and . . . we agreed to sit in meditation to attempt a contact with this being. . . . I felt my inner being and his uniting in a very deep way. . . .
Thus began a relationship with a spiritual being that continues to this day.10
Spangler believes this relationship with his spirit guide has given him skills “at working with the inner dimensions of spirit”11 and that “John” has a specific purpose in connecting with Spangler:
Over the years it has been evident that John’s main interest is the emergence of a new age and a new culture, and he identifies himself as one of those on the spiritual side of life whose work is specifically to empower that emergence.12
Everyone I have profiled in this booklet, from Oprah to Wayne Dyer to John Bradshaw plus countless others have all been working to bring about this “new culture”—and they appear to have succeeded. What is taking place is far more widespread throughout the Western world than most people realize. Even the giant retail outlet Costco recognizes this reality. In their magazine, the Costco Connection, they relate this in an article titled, “Mindful Matters: Meditation as Medicine,” stating:
It’s been around for centuries and is integral to the practice of Buddhism, yet, until recently, meditation was often regarded as some strange, New Age-y, Eastern mind-body thing. No more.13
Meditation, the basic activity that underlies all metaphysics, is the primary source of spiritual direction for those in the New Age. We need only observe the emphasis that is placed on meditation to see the significance of its role in New Age thought:
Meditation is the doorway between worlds . . . the pathway between dimensions.14
Meditation is the key—the indispensable key—to the highest states of awareness.15
Meditation is a key ingredient to metaphysics, as it is the single most important act in a metaphysician’s life.16
When we examine the heart of this mystical revolution, we find there’s a source of authority, so to speak. There’s some thing, some entities running this. It’s not the authors themselves but the force behind them that is in charge. And the power or force behind all these authors despises the Gospel and hates Christianity. We must conclude that the New Age movement does not have any real leaders, only followers. I heard one writer/channeler put it very plainly when he revealed:
Everyone anywhere who tunes into the Higher Self becomes part of the transformation. Their lives then become orchestrated from other realms.17
Please remember these following two Bible verses as you consider what you have just read:
Regard not them that have familiar spirits, neither seek after wizards, to be defiled by them: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:31)
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)
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1. James Herrick, The Making of the New Spirituality (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2003), p. 21.
2. Robert C. Fuller, Spiritual But Not Religious (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2001).
3. Ross Douthat, Bad Religion (New York, NY: Free Press, 2012), p.3.
4. American Piety in the 21st Century: New Insights to the Depth and Complexity of Religion in the US (Baylor University survey, 2006, http://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/33304.pdf), p. 29.
5. Esther and Jerry Hicks, Ask and It Shall Be Given (the teachings of Abraham) (Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2004), foreword by Wayne Dyer.
6. Louise Hay review of A Seth Book: The Early Sessions, Book 1: http://www.amazon.com/The-Early-Sessions-Book-Material-ebook/dp/B00BA1YXRO.
7. David Spangler, Emergence: The Rebirth of the Sacred (New York, NY: Del Publishing, 1984), p. 112.
8. Ibid., p. 65.
9. Ibid., p. 66.
10. Ibid., pp. 65-66.
11. Ibid. p. 66.
12. Ibid., p. 67.
13. Sally Abrahms, “Mindful Matters: Meditation as Medicine (Costco Connection, July 2014, Vol. 29, No. 7), p. 35.
14. Celeste G. Graham, The Layman’s Guide to Enlightenment (Phoenix, AZ: Illumination Pub., 1980), p. 13.
15. Ananda’s Expanding Light, Program Guide (The Expanding Light retreat center, California, April-December 1991), p. 5.
16. The College of Metaphysical Studies website, “Frequently Asked Questions About Metaphysics, Spirituality and Shamanism” (http://www.cms.edu/faq.html).
17. Talk by Ken Carey at Whole Life Expo (Los Angeles: February, 1987).
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YOGA: Exercise or Religion—Does it Matter? by Ray Yungen s is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract. The Booklet Tract is 10 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 YOGA: Exercise or Religion—Does it Matter?, click here.
YOGA: Exercise or Religion—Does it Matter?
By Ray Yungen
It is a moment that troubles me even now. Once, when I was giving a presentation at a Christian college about New Age spirituality, I noticed a student roll her eyes when I mentioned the term, Yoga. It was a small gesture, yet it spoke volumes—as if to say, “Give me a break! It’s just exercises!” I surmised from her response that she was a Yoga practitioner or had at least been exposed to the subject and believed that participation in Yoga had no negative impact on one’s spiritual life. After all, the young lady was attending a Christian college, so she likely presumed she was discerning enough to know whether a practice was pagan or not. But she gave no biblical evaluation of Yoga, and rather wordlessly defended it. Unfortunately, this trend to accept Yoga and other New Age practices has only continued to accelerate within Christian colleges, ministries, and even churches.
Currently, an estimated 24 million people in the United States are regularly involved with some form of Yoga.1 In the town where I live, the high majority of health clubs, including the YMCA, YWCA, and the local community college, offer Yoga classes. According to a new survey by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease and Prevention, nearly ten percent of U.S. adults and three percent of children participated in yoga in 2012.”2 Most of these adults may be vaguely aware of the Hindu component of Yoga but see that as being irrelevant to taking Yoga classes. Many people doing the asanas, or postures, seem to feel that these exercises are devoid of any religious connotation.
Professor Bradley J. Malkovsky of Notre Dame University makes the following observation, which aptly demonstrates how Yoga has gone from being relatively obscure to notably pervasive:
I remember almost twenty years ago how the first time I mentioned the word yoga in one of my theology classes, many of my students, most of whom were Christian, could not stifle their laughter. They thought the whole idea of practicing yoga was strange and exotic, something that people of other religions did. Only one student out of about seventy that day had ever tried yoga. But nowadays almost every hand goes up when I ask which students have practiced yoga. Things have clearly changed. Yoga is more prevalent now than ever among people living in the West.3
Professor Malkovsky goes on to say Yoga’s popularity is not just linked to physical fitness primarily, but is an age-old system with a definite spiritual component:
If my students end up going deeper into yoga than simply practicing āsanas [postures], they will learn just how much the wisdom of ancient India can spiritually nourish them, even here on the other side of the world, in twenty-first-century America.4
I find it interesting (but also disconcerting) that many people really don’t examine the reality behind this last statement. To many Americans, Yoga is only exercise, although of a more exotic variety. Generally, people think the different postures aid in healing and strengthening the physical body. Some may also maintain that Yoga calms the mind as well, but from years of research, I have determined only relatively few are aware that Yoga is a religious practice. Can I prove this? Consider the following. If you go to the Fitness” section of any bookstore and look in the Yoga subsection, you will find references to the spiritual aspects of Yoga such as the chakra system, kundalini, etc. in almost every book on Yoga. It is quite rare to find a book on Yoga that does not incorporate spiritual concepts found in classic Hinduism. To devout Hindus, Yoga cannot be separated into physical and spiritual parts. Both are relevant to the practice, with the end desire being a profound religious experience.
The word “yoga” actually means to be yoked to or united in body, mind, and spirit with Brahman (the Hindu concept of God).5 It doesn’t get more spiritually obvious than that.
Yoga adherents cannot divorce the religious or spiritual aspects of Yoga from the physical because the physical postures were, from their inception, specifically designed to serve as conduits to yogic religious experience. In fact, it cannot really be called Yoga without union with the spiritual realm. Yoga is union with Brahman, the Hindu view of God. If you are not on the road to being connected with Brahman, you can’t really call it Yoga.
The Reality Behind Yoga
Beth Shaw, the founder and CEO of YogaFit (an organization which has trained over 200,000 instructors worldwide), teaches that Yoga consists of far more than mere physical exercises. In her book, she reveals:
The ancient practice of meditation is as integral to yoga as the poses are, and they have the same intention: not to tune out, but to tune in to a frequency that is long forgotten or perhaps undiscovered.6 (emphasis added)
What exactly is this frequency she is talking about? Yoga instructor and author Stephen Cope provides the answer. He says, “We are all born divine. . . . This is the classic statement of the perennial philosophy of yoga.”7 This leaves little to the imagination when it comes to understanding the spiritual framework regarding the practice of Yoga. Cope has made his Yoga stance even clearer with the following two statements:
What we are seeking is already at the core of our nature. . . . We are already inherently perfect.8
It means that God is available to us fully in each moment, simply because God is our true nature.9
Yoga has been a springboard into the New Age for quite a number of people. One of them, Jack Canfield (bestselling author of the Chicken Soup books), attests to getting his spiritual jumpstart doing Yoga. In college, he took a Yoga class as an elective, did meditation, and became a believer. He said he “felt god flowing through all things.”10 In Canfield’s book The Success Principles, he writes:
As you meditate and become more spiritually attuned, you can better discern and recognize the sound of your higher self.11
This is basically Yoga 101.
The late occultist and “prophetess” Alice Bailey also reflected on this same definition. Bailey recognized that Yoga was something integral to the spread of New Age spirituality. Her reflection on it shows the emphasis the religion of occultism places on the practice of Yoga. You can see this when she proposed the following:
The Yogi, or the one who has achieved union (for Yoga is the science of union) knows himself as he is in reality . . . he knows himself to be, past all controversy, God.12 (parenthesis in original)
Even Aleister Crowley, the 20th century’s foremost proponent of occultism, saw Yoga as vital to his spiritual life. He offered his opinions and observations in his book Eight Lectures on Yoga. This body of work has been referred to as “the most scientific and informational work on Yoga ever written.”13
Exercising Biblical Discernment
It cannot be overstated that discernment, and an appropriate response to what is discerned, is one of the hallmarks of a mature Christian. We live in an age where the acceptance of trendy practices, such as Yoga, is hammered into us from every side, with the end result being an ecumenical generic inter-spirituality that fits everybody.
Believers in Christ have fallen prey to some dangerous ideas. One is that we feel free to draw from pagan sources. Or, as is popularly stated, we can chew the meat and spit out the bones. But this doesn’t make any sense from a biblical standpoint. As a Christian, we can’t segregate into portions what part we think will do us harm and what part will profit us. If the foundational spirituality is contrary to God’s Word, then it will be folly to interact with it.
Another saying that is often used as a defense is the old phrase, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.” But as the late apologist Dave Hunt used to say, what if it’s Rosemary’s Baby?14 (a horror movie from the 1960s).
One of the reasons that Yoga has become so popular is that it lacks many of the sexual taboos that the Judeo/Christian tradition has. In other words, the reason Yoga is compatible with people such as Aleister Crowley, who was considered one of the most wicked men to ever live, is because Yoga overlooks the perversity of fallen human nature. The following account provides us with compelling food for thought—
Actress and sister/daughter to the singing Judds, Ashley Judd wrote a book about her social activism regarding the AIDS epidemic around the world. Accompanying her on trips was her close friend and celebrity Yoga instructor, Seane Corn. Judd told the following story to emphasize a spiritual point to her readers:
Back in the 1980s, Corn had worked as a bartender in a gay nightclub. One of the patrons of the club who was a close friend of Corn’s died of AIDS. Judd explained how before he died he passed on to Corn that God was in every person she met, even patrons of a gay bar. “Ignore the story [the lifestyle] and see the soul,” he told her. Corn said it was her “first lesson in the central tenet of Yoga—that we are all one.”15
What I find especially problematic is that at the beginning of her book, Ashley Judd describes herself as an evangelical Christian. An evangelical Christian is not supposed to believe the philosophy Judd has just related.
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6: 9-11)
Am I saying that everyone who does Yoga is basically immoral? Not at all. But could it be that at least part of the reason homosexuality has become so accepted over the last thirty years, even now within parts of mainstream Christianity, is due to the widespread influence of Yoga and other mystically based practices? That’s certainly something to consider.
As believers, we are told in Romans 12:2, “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.” We are often like the Old Testament Israelites whom the Lord commanded to “learn not the way of the heathen” (Jeremiah 10:2), and who were forbidden to marry pagan women (Jeremiah 16), and instead were enamored with the women of the nations surrounding them, and were thus seduced into idolatry.
When Yoga is viewed through the lens of the Cross of Christ, it is clear that the two are incompatible. When a person becomes involved with Yoga, he enters a realm of often subtle but powerful spiritual deception.
The Russel Simmons story is of special interest with regard to my warning about Yoga. Simmons was a young, street-wise black youth who later did quite well for himself as a hip-hop (rap) music producer. Ironically, Simmons did not fit any New Age stereotype, but a friend, as he put it, “dragged [him]into a yoga class,” and he “realized [he] had stumbled onto something incredible.”16 As a result, Simmons acquired the spiritual perspective that always accompanies the practice of Yoga. Simmons relates:
A lot of the time it seems like people are more comfortable listening to the God that is outside them, but I believe that God is already inside of you. . . . The God that’s in all of our hearts.17
The student I referred to in the beginning of this booklet who rolled her eyes when I mentioned Yoga might have reconsidered her response if presented with the facts you have just read in this booklet. This is exactly the point I am trying to make, that Yoga produces a certain perception. That perception is identical with what is commonly called New Age spirituality. Incidentally, Simmons has become a major Yoga “evangelist” and has written three books (one a best seller), which specifically target the young hip-hop audience.
Christine Aguilera, popular singer in the vein of Brittney Spears, fits right into this pattern. In a 2015 ABC news article titled “Yoga Serving As Inspiration For Aguilera’s New Music,” Aguilera states:
. . . taking a love for Yoga and breathing . . . not looking at it as an exercise, but just feeling more in one with the Earth and everyone being connected. It’ll definitely have a reflection on the new record.18
Aguilera is an influence to millions of young girls, who see her as a role model and emulate her. Aguilera is not an anomaly.
In the Western world, Yoga has become largely a female-based phenomenon; however, a growing number of men are doing Yoga now as well. A high percentage of these men and women, such as Simmons, have gone on to become Yoga “missionaries,” with an interest in converting family members, friends, coworkers, etc. Such proselytizing has resulted in tens of millions around the world who have practiced Yoga. Just think about this: if each one of these people is able to influence just five or six people in their lifetime with regard to Yoga, we’d be looking at well over a quarter billion people.
It cannot be ignored that even if a person has no interest in the spiritual roots of Yoga, by taking a Yoga class or even participating via video or books, he or she is exposing him or herself to Hindu spirituality, which is inherent in the practice. People need to understand that Yoga is a religious expression and therefore cannot be compartmentalized (i.e., exercise vs. religion). Even the traditional Hindu greeting, Namasté, that is said at the end of Yoga classes, is spiritual. When translated, it means, “The god in me bows down to (or salutes) the god in you.” In essence, Namasté encompasses the full spectrum of the spirituality of the Age of Aquarius.
It is essential for us as Christians to comprehend the gravity of this situation and understand what Dr. Malkovsky is bringing to our attention. Most likely, you have someone in your circle of family and friends who has been involved with Yoga. My publisher, Lighthouse Trails, told me that they frequently receive phone calls from people telling them that their churches are doing Yoga and often at the prompting and leading of the pastors’ wives or women’s ministry leaders. What was once nearly unheard of within evangelical churches is now being increasingly accepted. In Dr. Malkovsky’s book, he proceeds to back up the very thing I am attempting to convey in this booklet:
[M]any people who are at first uninterested in meditation when they take up yoga practice gradually come to discover its value, especially if they have a teacher who understands that yoga’s ultimate aim is spiritual health, not merely physical health.19
Surprisingly, some advocates of Yoga do see the inherent clash between Yoga and Christianity. Stephanie Syman, in her book titled The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America actually draws the same conclusions I am presenting. Her observation is that despite the promises of the Yoga community that Yoga “doesn’t [contradict] our most sacred beliefs,”20 it may very well do so. She explains:
[Yoga Proponents] may actually be wrong on this point. It’s hard to reconcile the subtle body [the chakras] and the possibility of experiencing divinity for yourself by methodically following a program of exercise, breathing, and meditation with Judeo-Christian notions of God and the afterlife, but we seem willing to ignore the discontinuities.21 (emphasis added)
Yoga has become so accepted and ingrained in the Western world that you can now find it everywhere, and I do mean everywhere! Recently, I was passing through a very small town in western Montana and was surprised to see a Yoga studio located in the center of town. What really got my attention was that this studio was named after the Hindu goddess, Shakti!
The Yoga boom, which began in the 1990s, is changing the very social fabric of our society in a way that will last well into the future. People need to be aware that Yoga serves spiritual ends and also need to realize just what the nature of that spirituality entails. Yoga is the religion of namasté (i.e., man is God). The fact is, there is no need for the Cross of Jesus Christ in Yoga. To the contrary, Scripture tells us:
. . . that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.(Ephesians 2:7; emphasis added)
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1. Kim Painter, “Ancient Practice of Yoga Now a Growth Industry (USA Today, March 3, 2015; http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2015/03/01/yoga-health-fitness-trends/23881391/).
2. Ibid.; information taken from the survey at https://nccih.nih.gov/research/statistics/NHIS/2012/mind-body/yoga.
3. Bradley Malkovsky, God’s Other Children: Personal Encounters with Love, Holiness, and Faith in Sacred India (HarperCollins, Kindle Edition), p. 152.
5. For example: http://www.universalspirityoga.com/whatisyoga.html.
6. Beth Shaw, Yoga Fit (Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2015, 3rd Edition), p. 315.
7. Stephen Cope, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self (New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1999 edition).
10. Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Dare to Win (New York, NY: Berkeley Books, 1994), p. 195.
11. Jack Canfield, The Success Principles (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2015, 10th anniversary edition), p. 377.
12. Alice Bailey, From Intellect to Intuition (New York, NY: Lucis Publishing Company, 16th Printing, 2012), p. 189.
13. A review of Aleister Crowley’s book, Eight Lectures on Yoga: https://books.google.com/books/about/Eight_Lectures_on_Yoga.html?id=Ft4KAAAACAAJ.
14. Dave Hunt, “Has The Church Sold Its Birthright To Psychology?” (The Berean Call; https://www.thebereancall.org/content/has-church-sold-its-birthright-psychology).
15. Ashley Judd, All That Is Bitter and Sweet: A Memoir (New York, NY: Ballantine Books, 2011), p. 286.
16. Russell Simmons with Chris Morrow, Do You!: 12 Laws to Access the Power in You to Achieve Happiness and Success (New York, NY: Penguin Group, 2007, Kindle Edition), Kindle Location: 1142.
17. Ibid., 1047.
18. Mesfin Fekadu, “Yoga Serving As Inspiration For Aguilera’s New Music” (ABC News, October 7, 2015, http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/wireStory/yoga-serving-inspiration-aguileras-music-34309801).
19. Bradley Malkovsky, God’s Other Children, op. cit., p. 146.
20. Stefanie Syman, The Subtle Body: The Story of Yoga in America (New York, NY: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2010), p. 291.
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LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails began publishing Booklet Tracts nearly three years ago. Our first booklet was Ray Yungen’s 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer. Ray has now updated and expanded this booklet with new information that is vital to our warning about contemplative prayer. The updated, expanded Booklet Tract is 18 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 new edition. To order copies of the updated expanded edition of 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, click here. This booklet also has two appendices: “A Few Common Terms” and “Christian Mystics of the Past.”
By Ray Yungen
It is fair to say there has been a mystical revolution throughout the Western world over the last forty years. Whereas mysticism was once uncommon within mainstream society, it has now become accepted and normal. Going by the law of the market, any reasonable person could deduce this from the number of bookshelves devoted to eastern mysticism and New Age thought in virtually all major bookstore outlets (e.g., Barnes and Noble and the now defunct Borders). The Borders bookstore in my hometown in Oregon offered 65 shelves to these subjects; a few decades earlier, B. Dalton bookstore had only five shelves on mysticism. Another indicator of the popularity of mysticism was the success of talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. Over the course of twenty some years, she introduced literally tens of millions of readers and viewers to the mystical life.
Many people may not know that there has been a “Christian” element to this phenomenon of mysticism known as contemplative prayer or centering prayer. This form of mystical prayer has entered the Christian church primarily through spiritual formation programs. Despite the actual practice being centuries old, going all the way back to the desert fathers in the middle ages, it has only recently struck a chord with many people within the numerous branches or denominations that make up the panoply of Christianity.
It would be prudent for those who want to enter into this practice to really understand the dynamics of what this really entails. Christians may expect that they are going to have a deeper encounter with the God of the Bible or lead richer fuller spiritual lives, but the reality may be radically different. In this booklet, you are going to read quotes , not from critics or opponents of contemplative prayer but rather champions and teachers of contemplative prayer that show the true nature of what this movement actually is spiritually grounded in. I want to say at the onset that these quotes are not skewered or taken out of context. They accurately illustrate the mindset of the particular author.
1. The Compatibility of New Age and Eastern Thought with Contemplative Prayer
New Agers and those practicing Eastern religion regard contemplative prayer as part of their own movement. The following excerpts are from New Age and Eastern thought proponents:
It’s important to note that, throughout the history of Christianity, Christian mystics have displayed an unusual openness to the wisdom of non-Christian philosophy and religion. In other words, Christian mysticism seems, from the beginning, to have had an intuitive recognition of the way in which mysticism is a form of unity that transcends religious difference.1—Carl McColman, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism (emphasis added)
The East does not represent a culture or a religion so much as the methodology [meditation] for a achieving a larger, liberating vision. In that sense, the “East” has existed in Western mystical traditions [i.e., contemplative prayer].2—Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy
Individual religions have various names for the esoteric paths that can bring us step by step to these experiences. In Mahayana Buddhism, there are the paths of the Tibetans or the way of Zen. . . . In Hinduism, there are the different forms of yoga. In Islam, there is Sufism. In Judaism, there is the teaching of the Cabala. In Christianity, there is contemplation. All of these can lead people to the ultimate level, to cosmic consciousness.3—Willigis Jäger, Searching for the Meaning of Life (emphasis added)
The meditation of advanced occultists is identical with the prayer of advanced mystics: it is no accident that both traditions use the same word for the highest reaches of their respective activities—contemplation.4—from the book, Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism
Kundalini has long been known in Taoist, Hindu, and Buddhist spirituality.”5 “Since this energy [Kundalini occultic energy] 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.6—Thomas Keating, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality (emphasis added)
2. Major Proponents of Contemplative Prayer Advocate Eastern Religion
One of the outstanding characteristics of the contemplative prayer movement is what is known as interspirituality. In effect, this means you stay in your present religion but you absorb the spiritual perspective of those within Eastern thought. For instance, in Henry Nouwen’s book, Pray to Live, he describes contemplative proponent Thomas Merton as being heavily influenced by Hindu monks.7 Consider the following quotes:
[Thomas] Merton had encountered Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Taoism and Vedanta many years prior to his Asian journey. Merton was able to uncover the stream where the wisdom of East and West merge and flow together, beyond dogma, in the depths of inner experience. . . . Merton embraced the spiritual philosophies of the East and integrated this wisdom into [his] own life through direct practice. 8—from Yoga Journal magazine
[T]he author [Catholic priest Thomas Ryan] shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Muslim religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian and does not hesitate to bring that wisdom home.9—Henri Nouwen, from the foreword of Disciplines For Christian Living (emphasis added)
This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality . . . It is no accident that the most active frontier between Christian and Eastern religions today is between contemplative Christian monks and their Eastern equivalents. Some forms of Eastern meditation informally have been incorporated or adapted into the practice of many Christian monks, and increasingly by other Christians.10—Tilden Edwards, founder of the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, in Spiritual Friend
3. The Method in Contemplative Prayer Identical to the Method Used in New Age and Eastern Thought
The hallmark of contemplative prayer is found in such phrases as waiting for God in silence, stilling your thoughts, seeking God’s presence in the silence, and advancing in inward stillness, all with the characteristic of stopping the normal flow of thought. Many promoters of contemplative prayer would reject this being the result of using a mantra but many more accept this as being true.
Those who have practiced Transcendental Meditation may be surprised to learn that Christianity has its own time-honored form of mantra meditation. The technique, called Centering Prayer, draws on the spiritual exercises of the Desert Fathers, the English devotional classic, The Cloud of Unknowing, and the famous Jesus Prayer. . . . Reliance on a mantric centering device has a long history in the mystical canon of Christianity.11—Editors from New Age Journal, As Above, So Below
The techniques [Herbert] Benson teaches–silence, appropriate body posture and above all, emptying the mind through repetition of prayer—have been the practices of mystics in all the great world religions. And they form the basis on which most modern spiritual directors guide those who want to draw closer to God. . . . Silence is the language God speaks . . . says Thomas Keating who taught ‘centering prayer’ to more than 31,000 people in just one year. Keating suggests that those who pray repeat some “sacred word,” like God or Jesus.12—“Talking to God,” Newsweek magazine
Nonverbal prayer involves learning how to become silent inside. I first learned about nonverbal prayer as a part of other religious traditions. I did not know that it also has a long history in the Christian tradition (even though I had gone to a first-rate seminary; I do not know if it was not taught or if I missed it). It intrigued me. I learned about the use of mantras as a means of giving the mind something to focus and refocus on as it sinks into silence. I was thus delighted to learn later that the Christian tradition not only knows the practice of nonverbal prayer but also includes mantras.13—Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew
The twentieth century, which has seen so many revolutions, is now witnessing the rise of a new mysticism within Christianity. . . . For the new mysticism has learned much from the great religions of Asia. It has felt the impact of yoga and Zen and the monasticism of Tibet. It pays attention to posture and breathing; it knows about the music of the mantra and the silence of samadhi. . . . Now what I say of Zen is true also of Christian mysticism. It also leads to an altered state of consciousness where all is one in God.”14 —William Johnston, The Mystical Way
Without in any way betraying his faith, the Christian can deepen his contemplation of divine mysteries through Hindu ways of prayer.15—Kathleen Healy, Entering the Cave of the Heart
Do not reflect on the meaning of the word; thinking and reflecting must cease, as all mystical writers insist.16—Willis Jäger, Contemplation: A Christian Path
The repetition [of a word or phrase] can in fact be soothing and very freeing, helping us, as Nouwen says, “to empty out our crowded interior life and create the quiet space where we can dwell with God.”17—evangelical author, Jan Johnson, When the Soul Listens
4. Finding the “God” Within
It is important to note here that the purpose of contemplative prayer is to enter an altered state of consciousness in order to find one’s true self, thus finding God. This true self relates to the belief that man is basically good. Christian proponents of contemplative prayer teach that all human beings have a divine center and that all, not just born-again believers, should practice contemplative prayer. The belief is that in the heart of man we find God (i.e., that we are God).
The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.18—Henri Nouwen from his book Here and Now
We [all humanity] bear this divine core within us. Zen calls it “essential nature”; yoga calls it “atman”; Christians call it “eternal life, the kingdom of God, or heaven.” . . . The Divine, which he [Jesus] called the Father, pulsates through us, just as it pulsated through him.19—Willigis Jäger, Search for the Meaning of Life
[Even people] who have yet to turn their lives over to Jesus Christ—can and should practice them [spiritual disciplines].20—Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline
When God grows up for us, a different kind of relationship—if it can be called a relationship—is called for. No longer are we two separate beings who interact across the distance that we imagine to lie between beings. We are now related to God as the body is to the breath. Essentially, we are one.21—Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free
It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race . . . now I realize what we all are . . . If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are . . . I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other . . . At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth . . . This little point …is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody. 22—Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
[O]ccultism is defined as the science of mystical evolution; it is the employment of the hidden [i.e. occult] mystical faculties of man to discern the hidden reality of nature, i.e. to see God as the all in all.23—Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism
5. Contemplative Spirituality Has Become Attractive to Those in the Evangelical Church
Despite the theological barriers that have existed between Catholicism and the evangelical church, evangelicals have become more and more receptive to the Catholic contemplative tradition. These barriers have more or less come down over the last few decades, and an increasing number of evangelicals are seeking out spiritual directors and spiritual formation programs which are the conduits into the realm of this mystical paradigm.
Some very popular authors who have been accepted by the evangelical church are activists regarding contemplative prayer as a way to go deeper with God. These authors have written and taught prolifically on contemplative prayer.
[W]e should all without shame enroll as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.24
Thomas Merton has perhaps done more than any other twentieth-century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood . . . his interest in contemplation led him to investigate prayer forms in Eastern religion . . . [he is] a gifted teacher.25
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.26
[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.27
Ruth Haley Barton
A few years ago, I began to recognize an inner chaos in my soul . . . No matter how much I prayed, read the Bible, and listened to good teaching, I could not calm the internal roar created by questions with no answers.28
In Ruth Haley Barton’s book Invitation to Solitude and Silence (the book where Barton acknowledges Thomas Keating’s influence in her life), Barton quotes the late Catholic priest William Shannon from his book Silence on Fire (the biography of Thomas Merton). In that book, Shannon states:
Wordless prayer . . . is humble, simple, lowly, prayer in which we experience our total dependence on God and our awareness that we are in God. Wordless prayer is not an effort to “get anywhere, ” for we are already there (in God’s presence). It is just that we are not sufficiently conscious of our being there.29 (emphasis added)
Adele Ahlberg Cahoun
Adele Ahlberg Calhoun is the author of The Spiritual Discplines Handbook: Practices That Conform Us, a primer on contemplative and centering prayer. The following two quotes from her book clearly express her views:
Meditation is not simply a discipline of Eastern religions and New Age gurus. Meditation rests at the core of Judaeo-Christian spirituality; it’s an invitation to apprehend God.30
Take your time, and when a word “lights up” for you stop and attend. Let the word or phrase roam around in your mind and heart. . . . When your mind wanders, gently bring it back and continue your meditation.31
What illustrates Ahlberg Calhoun’s spiritual sympathies even more is a list of “tutors” she includes at the back of the book. Some of these are Basil Pennington, Henri Nouwen, Richard Rohr, Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and Julian of Norwich, all of which absorbed interspiritual and panentheistic characteristics due to their contemplative practices. Many evangelical leaders, including Rick Warren, recommend or endorse The Spiritual Disciplines Handbook.On the book’s publisher’s website (InterVarsity Press), you will find an endorsement for the book by the popular pastor Timothy Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian of NYC, who says of Calhoun’s handbook:
I have long profited from Adele Ahlberg Calhoun’s gifts in the field of spiritual development, and I am delighted that she has compiled her experience with spiritual disciplines into book form. I highly recommend it and I look forward to using it as a resource at our church.32
A simple method of contemplative prayer (often called centering prayer . . .) has four steps . . . choose a single sacred word . . . repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, often.33
In an interview, Brennan Manning recommended William Shannon’s book, Silence on Fire and Thomas Keating’s book on centering prayer, Open Mind, Open Heart. In Silence on Fire, Shannon denounces the atonement and the biblical God in the following manner:
This is a typical patriarchal notion of God. He is the God of Noah who sees people deep in sin, repents that He made them and resolves to destroy them. He is the God of the desert who sends snakes to bite His people because they murmured against Him. He is the God of David who practically decimates a people . . . He is the God who exacts the last drop of blood from His Son, so that His just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased. This God whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger. This God does not exist.34 (emphasis added)
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.35
The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.36
During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: “How can we best help people [not just Christians] to attain union with God?” His answer was very clear. We must tell them that they are already united with God. Contemplative prayer is nothing other than coming into consciousness of what is already there.37—stated by Brennan Manning in his book The Signature of Jesus
I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.38
The Bible reveals that in the heart (center) of man our true self is not “God” but rather sinful and wicked:
But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies. (Matthew 15: 18,19)
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man. (Mark 7: 21-23; emphasis added)
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
The Bible also clearly warns against repetitive prayer and also tells us we cannot find God unmediated (i.e., without Christ).
But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. (Matthew 6:7)
For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5)
It is ironic that in the last century more Christians have died for their faith in other countries than have died in past centuries combined. Many of these Christians have departed from Islam, Hinduism, or Buddhism to meet their executioners. What would these martyrs of the faith say to us if they could speak of our current western practice of intermingling Christianity with Eastern religion and the occult? The Bible warns against such mixture:
Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devil: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. (1 Corinthians 10: 21)
Jesus never taught his disciples techniques to attain oneness with God, but rather spoke of Himself as the Way. In fact, the entire New Testament was written to dispute the idea that people can reach God through religious efforts and reveals that Jesus Christ is the only answer. In conclusion, the contemplative movement is founded on the following false premises*:
The heart of man is basically good and (it has a divine center). vs. The heart of man is wicked—A DENIAL OF THE SIN NATURE
Man can find God through his own efforts regardless of what religion he has embraced. vs. Jesus referred to Himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life.— A DENIAL OF THE ATONEMENT
God is delighted by chanting and similar methods of meditative prayer. vs. Jesus said that He isn’t.—A DENIAL OF GOD’S PERSONAL NATURE
With false premises as these, the conclusions can only be erroneous. The Bible creates the proper understanding and balance of 1) man as sinful, 2) needing a redeemer, 3) with whom he can have an abundant life.
Perhaps the most misguided view of all in the contemplative prayer movement is summed up in the following quote by a biographer of Thomas Merton:
Nor should Christians delude themselves with the idea that the grace of God is monopolized by any particular structure of belief. God isn’t obeying the traffic lights of any religious system.39
But this is not true. God did create an organism called the body of Christ, and to enter, you have to believe something very specific. If you understand the objective of true Christianity, you will clearly see that the opinion stated in the quote above contradicts the message of the Cross, which is the essence Christianity. You cannot reconcile the statement above with the following verse:
. . . that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)
*Note: * In philosophy, every “argument” must have a premise and a conclusion, but if your premises are false, it will inevitably lead you to a false conclusion.
To order copies of the updated expanded edition of 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, click here.
1. Carl McColman, The Big Book of Christian Mysticism (Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Road Publishing Company, 2010), p. 63.
2. Marilyn Ferguson, The Aquarian Conspiracy (Los Angeles, CA: J.P. Tarcher, 1980), p. 368.
3.Willigis Jäger, Searching for the Meaning of Life (Liguori, MO: Triumph Books, 1995), p. 31.
4. Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism (London, UK: SPCK, 1979), p. 7.
5. Philip St. Romain, Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality: A Pathway to Growth and Healing (New York, NY: Crossroad, 1995). This excerpt is in the Foreword by Thomas Keating; page 7.
7. Henri Nouwen, Pray to Live (Fides Publishers, 1972), pp. 19-28.
8. Michael Torris (Yoga Journal magazine; January/February; 1999).
9. Thomas Ryan, Disciplines For Christian Living (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1993). This excerpt written in the Foreword by Henri Nouwen; p. 2.
10. Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1980), pp. 18-19.
11.Ronald S. Miller, Editor of New Age Journal, As Above So Below (New York, NY: Tarcher/Putnam, 1992), p. 52.
12. Kenneth L. Woodward, “Talking to God” (Newsweek, January 6, 1992), p. 44.
13. Marcus Borg, The God We Never Knew (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1997), p. 125.
14. William Johnston, The Mystical Way: Silent Music and the Wounded Stag (HarperCollins,1993), Foreword, p. 336.
15. Kathleen Healy, Entering the Cave of the Heart (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1986), p. 9.
16. Willigis Jäger, Contemplation: A Christian Path (Liguori, MO: Triumph Books, 1994), p. 31.
17. Jan Johnson, When The Soul Listens: Finding Rest and Direction in Contemplative Prayer (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1999), p. 93.
18. Henri Nouwen, Here and Now (New York, NY: Crossroad, 1994), p. 22.
19.Willigis Jäger, Search for the Meaning of Life, op. cit., pp. 243, 245.
20. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 1988), p. 2.
21. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing, 1996), p. 77.
22. Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Garden City, NY: Doubleday Publishers, 1989), pp. 157-158.
23. Richard Kirby, The Mission of Mysticism, op. cit., p. 6.
24. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline (San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row, 1978 edition), p. 13.
25. Richard Foster, Spiritual Classics (San Francisco, CA: HarperCollins, 2000), p. 17.
26. Richard Rohr, “The Eternal Christ in the Cosmic Story” (National Catholic Reporter, 2009, http://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+eternal+Christ+in+the+cosmic+story.-a0214894722).
27. 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.
28. Ruth Haley Barton, “Beyond Words:Experience God’s presence in silence and solitude” (Discipleship Journal, Vol. 113 1999).
29. William Shannon, Silence on Fire (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing Company, 1995 edition), pp. 109-110.
30. Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook: Practices That Transform Us (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 2050-2051.
31. Ibid., Kindle Locations 2071-2072.
32. Timothy Keller, InterVarsity Press website: http://www.ivpress.com/cgi-ivpress/book.pl/review/code=7697.
33. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus; (Multnomah Books, 1994), p. 218.
34. William Shannon, Silence on Fire, op. cit., pp. 109-110.
35. Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1991), p. 81.
36. Henri Nouwen, Here and Now, op. cit., p. 22.
37. Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus, op. cit., p. 211; citing William H. Shannon, Silence on Fire (1991 edition), p. 22.
38. David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” (Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969).
39. James Forest, Thomas Merton: A Pictorial Biography (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1980), p. 81.
To order copies of the updated expanded edition of 5 Things You Should Know About Contemplative Prayer, click here.
To Lighthouse Trails:
I hope you can help me. I am battling a number of health issues and find myself having to choose relief or compromise my beliefs. I’d rather be sick than join the mystic forces. I want to know if you have a book on the pitfalls of mysticism in health care. I went in for a cranial-sacral massage and got a full dose of yoga breathing and the repeated admonition to “turn off my monkey brain.” I always ask the massage therapist if she is trained in Reiki, but I never thought
to ask if they use Kundalini energy. Forewarned is forearmed. I hope you can point me in the right direction.
Thanks so much for all you do for the remnant of Christ,
Thanks for your email. We don’t have a book just devoted to that, but in Ray Yungen’s book, For Many Shall Come in My Name, he has a chapter on the New Age in medicine where he discusses various energy healing techniques. He also talks about Kundalini in that book. You can also read his booklet on energy healing online. Chris Lawson, of Spiritual Research Network, also has some information on Reiki and other dangerous practices that you might find helpful: http://www.spiritual-research-network.com/dangers_of_reiki.html. You’re doing the right thing, asking questions before allowing a practitioner to touch you. It’s very difficult today because even many “Christian” therapists are using Reiki and other energy healing methods. If they knew the occultic nature behind these practices, they would be shocked that they have done this to their patients.
Letter to the Editor: Pope Francis Points to the “Contemplative” “Thomas Merton” in Speech to Congress . . . And the Role This Could Play in a One-World Religion
LTRP Note: On the morning of September 24th, Lighthouse Trails posted an article by Ray Yungen titled “Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion” “Coincidentally,” one hour later, Lighthouse Trails was contacted and told that the Catholic Church’s Jesuit Pope Francis talked about Thomas Merton (using the term contemplative to describe him) when he addressed Congress. Shortly later, Lighthouse Trails received this letter to the editor below.
The fact that Pope Francis referred to Merton (and his “contemplative style”) when talking to Congress and our nation is probably one of the heaviest things we have encountered since beginning Lighthouse Trails 13 years ago. We have suspected but now believe that Pope Francis has the capability of orchestrating a one-world religion. As one Merton scholar explained: “The God [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment.”1 In other words, Merton found Buddhist enlightenment in contemplative prayer.2 Merton’s view that God was in every person is summed up in this statement:
During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: “How can we best help people to attain union with God?” His answer was very clear: We must tell them that they are already united with God. “Contemplative prayer is nothing other than ‘coming into consciousness’ of what is already there.”3
This is panentheism Merton is describing above. We took the quote from one of Brennan Manning’s books. Remember the booklet we just released earlier this week about Beth Moore and her contemplative propensities where we quoted her saying that Brennan Manning’s contribution to “our generation of believers may be a gift without parallel.”4 But Manning resonates with Merton! Please see what is happening here. It was no coincidence that we just released Ray Yungen’s booklet on Richard Foster and John Lanagan’s booklet on Beth Moore (both showing the interspiritual “fruit” of contemplative prayer), and then posting the article on the Catholic Church’s Expansion this morning. We did not know the pope was going to be exalting Thomas Merton today. Surely, God is trying to send out a warning. We just fear that few will hear it.
In Yungen’s booklet on Foster, he presents some new information about Merton that we never had before. It’s vital, especially now that the pope has used Merton as an example of who the American people are (please read an excerpt from Yungen’s booklet below the letter to the editor to better understand what we are trying to say).
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I am writing to you today hoping to pass some information onto Ray Yungen.
Today, I was led by the Lord to watch Pope Francis’ speech to Congress, I was curious as to what “interesting” things he was going to have to say. As I was watching the speech I heard him mention “Thomas Merton” which caught me off guard. I remember Ray and Warren Smith talking about him and how much he has been influenced by the New Age Movement. In his speech, he mentioned how “Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between people and religions.” He also said “Thomas Merton had the capacity for dialogue and openness to God” [contemplative]. He mentioned three other people in his speech, one of them being Dorothy Day [a radical feminist, social activist, and journalist], saying that these four people,4 including Thomas Merton, are “four representatives of the American people.”
After watching the speech, I felt I needed to pass this information onto Warren Smith, so I e-mailed him; I’m hoping he gets the e-mail. I really feel that this is just another connection of how the New Spirituality/Contemplative Prayer is invading the Body of Christ, and this nation!
After I e-mailed Warren, I was led to Lighthouse Trails Research website to try and see if there was any other contact information there. As I was there, I looked at the “blog” section page. To my absolute surprise, I saw an article written by Ray Yungen called “Contemplative Spirituality – the Source of the Catholic Church’s Expansion.” It was posted on the EXACT same day as the Pope speaking to Congress. And what is one of the things the Pope talks about in his speech to congress? Thomas Merton!
Here is the actual video of his speech at Congress:
Here is the written transcript of the speech:
I hope that you will be able to pass this information onto Ray, and hopefully even Warren Smith as well! It’s just more information that can be used to connect the dots.
- Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing , 1996), p. 76.
- Explained byhttp://www.atimeofdeparting.com Ray Yungen in A Time of Departing.
- Brennan Manning, The Signature of Jesus, p. 211,citing Merton’s biographer, William Shannon
- The other two were Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Excerpt from Ray Yungen’s booklet, A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “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 (An excerpt from Ray Yungen’s booklet, A Serious Look at Richard Foster’s “School” of Contemplative Prayer)