Archive for the ‘Interspirituality’ Category

Attempts to Blend Christianity with Other Religions

By Maria Kneas

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

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

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

             Water and oil | bigstockphoto.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endnotes:

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

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

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An Appendix on the Al Mohler Situation: “The Contemplative Christian (The Christian of the Future?)”

LTRP Note: In view of our recent post on Albert Mohler who promoted the book The Benedictine Option (a book that encourages contemplative prayer practices), we are posting this article by Ray Yungen from his book A Time of Departing so readers who are unfamiliar with the contemplative prayer movement can gain better understanding.

By Ray Yungen

Within the evangelical world, contemplative prayer is increasingly being promoted and accepted. As a result, it is losing its esoteric aspect and is now seen by many as the wave of the future. One can’t help but notice the positive exposure it is getting in the Christian media these days. In Today’s Christian Woman, a popular and trusted Christian magazine, feature titles make the appeal to draw closer to God. The author of one such article says, “Like a growing number of evangelicals, I’ve turned to spiritual direction because I want to know God better.”1 But without exception, every person she cites is a dedicated contemplative, one being Ruth Haley Barton, author of Invitation to Solitude and Silence. Barton was trained at the Shalem Institute (founded by panentheist Tilden Edwards); and in fact, that organization was featured in the article as a resource for the reader. However, considering the content of many statements on the Shalem Institute website, how could Shalem even be listed as a resource for Christians? Listen to a few:

In Christianity and other traditions that understand God to be present everywhere, contemplation includes a reverence for the Divine Mystery, “finding God in all things,” or “being open to God’s presence, however it may appear.”2

[Thomas] Merton taught that there is only one way to develop this radical language of prayer: in silence.3

The rhythm of the group includes . . . chanting, two periods of sitting in silence separated by walking meditation, and a time for optional sharing.4

In another magazine article, Ruth Haley Barton, who incidentally is the former Associate Director of Spiritual Formation at Willow Creek Community Church, echoes Southern Baptist-turned-goddess worshiper Sue Monk Kidd in many ways, including the general malaise or condition of the human soul. Barton recounts:

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.5

Ruth Haley Barton

The following scenario Barton relates could be the wave of the future for the evangelical church if this movement continues to unfold in the manner it already has:

I sought out a spiritual director, someone well versed in the ways of the soul . . . eventually this wise woman said to me . . . “What you need is stillness and silence so that the sediment can settle and the water can become clear.” . . . I decided to accept this invitation to move beyond my addiction to words.6

By “addiction to words,” she means normal ways of praying. She still uses words, but only three of them, “Here I am.” This is nothing other than the Cloud of Unknowing or the prayer of the heart.
Like Richard Foster, Barton argues that God cannot be reached adequately, if at all, without the silence. In referring to 1 Kings 19 when Elijah was hiding in a cave, Barton encourages:

God loves us enough to wait for us to come openly to Him. Elijah’s experience shows that God doesn’t scream to get our attention. Instead, we learn that our willingness to listen in silence opens up a quiet space in which we can hear His voice, a voice that longs to speak and offer us guidance for our next step.7

What Barton fails to mention here is that Elijah was a valiant defender of the belief in the one, unique God—Yahweh (as seen in his encounter with the 450 prophets of Baal), and he never went into an altered state of silence in his personal encounter with God.

Barton is no longer teaching at Willow Creek. She left there to start the Transforming Center and now teaches pastors and other Christian leaders spiritual formation. Hers is just one of many avenues through which contemplative prayer is creating a new kind of Christian, possibly the Christian of the future.

Endnotes:
1. Agnieszka Tennant, “Drawing Closer to God”(Today’s Christian Woman, September/October 2004, Vol. 26, No. 5), p. 14. Published by Christianity Today International, Carol Stream, Illinois.
2. Shalem Institute, “What Does Contemplative Mean?” (Shalem Institute About Shalem page, http://web.archive.org/web/20050204190729/http://shalem.org/about.html#contemplative).
3. Ann Kline, “A New Language of Prayer” (Shalem Institute newsletter, Vol. 29, No. 1, Winter 2005, http://web.archive.org/web/20060930230219/http://www.shalem.org/publication/newsletter/archives/2005/2005_winter/article_04).
4. Shalem Institute website, General Events, “Radical Prayer: A Simple Loving Presence Group” (http://www.shalem.org/programs/generalprograms/groupsevents_folder; no longer online—on file at LT).
5. Ruth Haley Barton, “Beyond Words, Issue #113, September/October, 1999, http://web.archive.org/web/20060628075740/http://www.navpress.com/EPubs/DisplayArticle/1/1.113.13.html), p. 35.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid., pp. 37-38.

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Letter to the Editor: Former Pastor and Popular Author, Brian Zahnd, Becomes a Mystic

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I read the story behind Lighthouse Trails a couple of times, and it hit me that we are going to reach only a fraction of evangelical believers because the movement has progressed so much farther into Contemplative Spirituality (CS) than I had realized. I became aware of CS five years ago, so when I read that Ray Yungen wrote his book (which I am re-reading currently) in 2002, it occurred to me that the battle is nearly won by the forces of evil. Out of all the people I have tried to reach, only two have been receptive to my warning. Of course, your ministry can reach many more than any one individual. Jesus told us we would see this apostasy in the end.

Water to Wine by Brian Zahnd

I sent the link for your story of LHT to a friend, who said she had the very same reaction I had—that is, CS has infiltrated the Church more than she realized and that she felt it is too late. Neither she nor I will give up on trying to warn believers—if only a few have their eyes opened, we will have done what Jesus commands.

I do wish you would do some research on Pastor Brian Zahnd, my former pastor. His church went emergent, and he is deep into Contemplative Spirituality. He teaches seminars on Contemplative Prayer at Word of Life Church in St. Joseph, MO. He is now taking his prayer school on the road. And like Roger Oakland says, he’s on the “road to Rome.” He is currently writing his sixth book. https://brianzahnd.com/books/

If you were to read his blog and his Twitter account, you’d see just how far he has gone into apostasy. https://twitter.com/BrianZahnd

He has said he is a friend of Eugene Peterson. He quotes Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, and many other CS authors and “theologians” on Twitter. One tweet said: “The future of Christianity belongs to the Thomas Merton kind of Christian, not the heirs of Jerry Falwell.”

Recently he had a reply to one of his tweets from Ann Coulter, so he is not an unknown.

He has jettisoned the OT (though he says not, but then he says he’s not Emergent) and is against substitutionary atonement.

I sent my current pastor your booklet on Brennan Manning and got no response. So I guess I’ll be looking for a new church again.

May God bless you in your vital work.

Ruth

Lighthouse Trails Comments: As Ruth has perceived, Brian Zahnd is a mystic. If you asked him if he was, he would proudly tell you yes. He’s not ashamed of it. His book Water to Wine tells of his mystical experiences and the outcome of those experiences. It’s in that book that Zahnd made the Merton/Falwell quote. Here is a little more of that quote:

The way forward is far less political and far more mystical. A generation ago the great Catholic theologian Karl Rahner famously predicted, “The devout Christian of the future will either be a ‘mystic’, one who has ‘experienced’ something, or he will cease to be anything at all.” The future of Christianity belongs to the Thomas Merton kind of Christian, not the heirs of Jerry Falwell. This should be seen as a welcome change. It is only our false hopes that are being disappointed in the death of Christendom. (Zahnd, Brian. Water To Wine: Some of My Story (Kindle Locations 1606-1610). Spello Press. Kindle Edition)

Brian Zahnd

During the course of our author Ray Yungen’s adult life, he studied the New Age, occultism, and mysticism, their connection to each other, and their influence in the world and in the church. He frequently mentioned Karl Rahner’s quote that the Christian of the future will be a mystic or he will be nothing. That is how the mystics view their belief that a Christian must engage in mystical practices if he really wants to be spiritual. They believe these practices will produce esoteric experiences that if practiced by enough of mankind, the earth and the world can be saved. They believe that real love and a change of heart can only come from these experiences. The mystics believe that this mystical transformation can happen to anyone, of any belief, of any religion, or of no religion at all. That’s because it isn’t about Jesus Christ (though they may say they like him) and man realizing he is a sinner in great need of a Savior. It can’t be about that—that would take away from the mystic’s belief that divinity dwells in all people and in all things. Though a bit obscure in the following quote by Zahnd, he puts it this way:

Love all of God’s creation, both the whole of it and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love animals, love plants, love each thing. If you love each thing, you will perceive the mystery of God in things. Once you have perceived it, you will begin tirelessly to perceive more and more of it every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an entire, universal love. (Zahnd, Brian. Water To Wine: Some of My Story (Kindle Locations 1897-1900). Spello Press. Kindle Edition, emphasis added)

As Ray Yungen often pointed out, the “fruit” of contemplative prayer (which Zahnd refers to over 40 times in the book) is interspirituality (all paths lead to God) and panentheism (God in all).  Zahnd explains in his book that when he moved from the moral (doctrine) to the mystical, he became interspiritual:

When I was converted from sectarian to eclectic [mystical], I obtained a passport that allowed me to travel freely throughout the whole body of Christ. In my theological travels I have discovered a Christianity that has both historical depth and ecumenical width. Now I can’t imagine not being able to access all the great contributors to contemporary Christian thought. Orthodox thinkers like Kallistos Ware and David Bentley Hart. Catholic thinkers like Richard Rohr and William Cavanaugh. Anglican thinkers like Rowen Williams and N.T. Wright. Mainline thinkers like Walter Brueggemann and Eugene Peterson. Without them my Christianity would be horribly impoverished. (Zahnd, Brian. Water To Wine: Some of My Story (Kindle Locations 459-463). Spello Press. Kindle Edition)

Water to Wine is filled with interspiritual statements like the one above. Using words such as “tribalism,” he says we must get rid of this notion that traditional (biblical) Christianity is more true or right than other religious traditions.  Just prior to the statement above, Zahnd quoted Thomas Merton saying:

If I can unite in myself the thought and the devotion of Eastern and Western Christendom, the Greek and the Latin Fathers, the Russian with the Spanish mystics, I can prepare in myself the reunion of divided Christians… If we want to bring together what is divided, we cannot do so by imposing one division [doctrine] upon the other. If we do this, the union is not Christian. It is political and doomed to further conflict. We must contain all the divided worlds in ourselves and transcend them in Christ. (Kindle Locations 454-459, quoting Merton’s Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Colorado Springs, CO: Image Books, 1968, 14).

You may recall when Thomas Merton spoke via letter with a Sufi master (an Islamic mystic) and told him that doctrinal differences needed to be laid aside, and we must turn to esoteric experiences as a common ground for unity and fellowship between all . He actually used the Cross as an example of one of those doctrines that had to be laid aside. (Rob Baker and Gray Henry, Editors, Merton and Sufism, Louisville, KY: Fons Vitae, 1999, p. 109)

While Zahnd’s book is filled with examples of his “new life” as a mystic, we’d like to bring out just one more point about Zahnd because it reveals some insight that affects a huge percentage of today’s Christian culture, and it is the person who initially pointed the way for Zahnd to become a mystic. You will know the name. Most likely, your own pastor has read at least one of his books. Read what Zahnd has to say:

On a summer afternoon I was at home browsing my bookshelves. I was deliberately looking for a book that would “give me a breakthrough.” I couldn’t settle on anything. So I prayed, “God, show me what to read.” And I sensed…nothing. I went downstairs feeling a bit agitated and slumped into a chair. Within a minute or two my wife, Peri, walked into the room, handed me a book and said, “I think you should read this.” She knew nothing of my moments ago prayer, but she had just handed me a book, and told me to read it. This was my Augustine-like “take and read” moment. It sent chills down my spine. Somehow I knew it was the answer to my prayer. The book was Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy. The strange thing was Peri had not read this book and had no more idea who Dallas Willard was than I did. (As I said, I was embarrassingly ignorant of the good stuff.) Neither of us were sure how the book had even made its way into our house. But, oh my, was it ever an answer to prayer! The next day I was flying somewhere and I took out the book providentially given to me by an angel. I began to read. And my life changed forever. Hyperbole? No. Stone cold fact. Reading Dallas Willard’s The Divine Conspiracy was like having a door kicked open in my mind. It opened my eyes to the kingdom of God. And the kingdom of God is, well, everything! In his foreword to The Divine Conspiracy, Richard Foster writes: “The Divine Conspiracy is the book I have been searching for all my life. Like Michelangelo’s Sistine ceiling, it is a masterpiece and a wonder… I would place The Divine Conspiracy in rare company indeed: along-side the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and John Wesley, John Calvin and Martin Luther, Teresa of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen, and perhaps even Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo. If the parousia tarries, this is a book for the next millennium.” That’s exactly what I needed! Augustine and Aquinas for the twenty-first century! Dallas Willard was my gateway to the good stuff. Directly or indirectly reading Willard led me to others: N.T. Wright, Walter Brueggemann, Eugene Peterson, Frederick Buechner, Stanley Hauerwas, John Howard Yoder, René Girard, Miroslav Volf, Karl Barth, Hans Urs von Balthasar, David Bentley Hart, Wendell Berry, Scot McKnight, Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, and so many more. (Kindle Locations 116-133)

Sadly, the spirituality that Brian Zahnd found in those authors cannot save souls and does not point to the Cross of redemption through Jesus Christ. Like so many mystics before him, Zahnd has discarded the idea that Christianity is dualistic in that it is separate from all other belief systems (and that there is a right and wrong, true and false, good and bad, etc), and the doctrines that the mystics so readily dismiss are the very framework of our Christian faith. Within those rejected doctrines is the doctrine of the Cross that says man is not divine and he desperately needs a Savior who is just one Person, Jesus Christ who died a violent death on behalf of mankind. He took our place. To reject dualism (two sides) is to reject the Cross. The contemplative emergent Episcopal bishope Alan Jones illustrated this in his book Reimagining Christianity. In Roger Oakland’s book, Faith Undone, Oakland states:

[Alan] Jones carries through with this idea that God never intended Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross to be considered a payment for our sins:

“The Church’s fixation on the death of Jesus as the universal saving act must end, and the place of the cross must be reimagined in Christian faith. Why? Because of the cult of suffering and the vindictive God behind it.”

“The other thread of just criticism addresses the suggestion implicit in the cross that Jesus’ sacrifice was to appease an angry God. Penal substitution [the Cross] was the name of this vile doctrine.” (Faith Undone, Lighthouse Trails, 2007, p. 193, quoting Alan Jones, Reimagining Christianity, Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons, 200, pp. 132, 168)

Jones calls the doctrine of the Cross a “vile doctrine,” similar to Brian McLaren who said the doctrine of the Cross and Hell are “false advertising” for God.* Brennan Manning did the same thing when he said that the God who exacted the last drop of his blood to appease His anger for our sins does not exist. (Above All, Manning, p. 58) Brian Zahnd says it this way:

Over time I began to see the cross in a much deeper way—not as a mere factor in an atonement theory equation, but as the moment in time and space where God reclaimed creation. I saw the cross as the place where Jesus refounded the world. Instead of being organized around an axis of power enforced by violence, at the cross the world was refounded around an axis of love expressed in forgiveness. (Water To Wine, Kindle Locations 305-308, emphasis added)

It’s a perfect ploy of Satan to get people to stop believing in that atonement. Remember, our adversary hates the atonement. And once a person begins down that road of mystical experiences, entering esoteric realms (really demonic realms), Satan will even allow that mystic to think he has become a fully evolved enlightened person who loves everyone and everything. All the while that person, who is being seduced by familiar spirits, is moving further and further away from the only path God has provided for salvation. And he will share this “mystical revolution” with as many people as he can. This is what happened with all the “great” mystics, and tragically, it appears to have happened to Brian Zahnd and who knows how many other evangelical pastors.

Extra Footnotes:
* Interview by Leif Hansen (The Bleeding Purple Podcast) with Brian McLaren, January 8th, 2006); Part 1: http://bleeding purple podcast .blog spot.com/2006/01/brian-mclaren-interview-part-i.html; Part II: http://bleeding purple pod cast. blog spot.com/2006/01/interview-with-brian-mclaren-part-ii.html).

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William Paul Young (THE SHACK AUTHOR) & His Connection with Panentheist Richard Rohr

LTRP Note: The Shack movie is about to be released. Millions of Americans will go to theaters to watch the movie. Most likely, the majority of them will be church goers and proclaiming Christians since The Shack book is vetted as a Christian story. Recently, a church contacted Lighthouse Trails and ordered 300 copies of Warren B. Smith’s booklet The Shack and Its New Age Leaven. If you have family, church members, pastors, and friends who might be considering attending this movie, please pick up some copies of the booklet and pass them out. As you can see from the piece below by Lighthouse Trails author Lois Putnam, William Paul Young resonates with panentheists (God is IN all), and we know from our research that The Shack resonates with this concept too. Please do what you can to warn everyone you know. The false “Christ” of The Shack has big plans to deceive many. If you can’t afford to buy the booklet, you can print the content from our blog; but we believe this very inexpensive booklet is a better way to go (in a published bound format, it helps give credibility to the material and the source).

By Lois Putnam

Catholic priest and panentheist mystic Richard Rohr (along with co-author mystic emergent Mike Morrell) recently wrote the book The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation.  William Paul Young wrote its foreword.  Inside, its dedication says:  “From Richard Rohr: To all unsuspecting folks who do not know they are already within the ‘Divine Flow'” [i.e., panentheism].  In the foreword, Young says, “May we feel within us the eternal life of Jesus reaching through our hands–to heal, to hold, to hug–and celebrate the bread of our Humanity, the sanctity of the Ordinary, and Participation in the Trinity.”

Other endorsers include Rob Bell, Brian D. McLaren, and a host of others.  As Lighthouse Trails Research points out in “In Case You Still Aren’t Sure About the Shack and Its Author,” perhaps Young’s “Twenty Books Everyone Should Read” will convince you otherwise.  Click onto the article here: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17684

And Young, continuing his close association with Rohr, will join him and Cynthia Bourgeault in April 6-8, 2017 to take part in a program titled: “Trinity: The Soul of Creation” in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Its online descriptive ad reads, “Rohr, Bourgeault, and Young believe the Trinity . . .  has the capacity to change everything.  We already participate within this dance whether we realize it or not [that God is in everyone].  But when we consciously engage in loving communion, we open ourselves to being transformed at the deepest levels.  Bring your heart, mind, and body to this . . .  conversation.  Join an ecumenical and inter-faith gathering, moving together through reflective experiences, including contemplative prayer, music, movement (Yoga, Tai Chi Chin, and walking meditation), group and individual processing. …” To read Lois Putnam’s entire article on The Shack, click here.  

Note: Cynthia Bourgeault is a name we know well at Lighthouse Trails. Ray Yungen spoke of her to us often. She is an Episcopal priest who is a devoted advocate for everything contemplative. Here is a list of some of her books to prove our point.

Related Articles:

Something to Think About – Richard Rohr, the New Age, and Young Evangelical Christians

IF: Gathering Leader/Pastor Melissa Greene—A Female Version of McLaren, Bell, Rohr, and Merton

Richard Foster’s Renovare Turns to Panentheist Mystic Richard Rohr and Emerging Darling Phyllis Tickle For New Book Project

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Thomas Merton, Richard Foster, and a Sufi Master

“Richard J. Foster’s Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth is hailed by many as the best modern book on Christian spirituality with millions of copies sold since its original publication in 1978.”—Publisher description

LTRP Note: Keep in mind three things as you read this article: 1) a strong link exists between Thomas Merton and the evangelical church, and that link is Richard Foster (author of Celebration of Discipline); 2) Richard Foster once said Thomas Merton “stands as one of the greatest twentieth-century embodiments of spiritual life as a journey”(1); 3) the current “Spiritual Formation” movement within Christianity was spawned by Richard Foster and Dallas Willard, and both men were ignited by Thomas Merton.

As you read this account of Thomas Merton, know that this same spiritual outlook that is described below has entered the church in no small way. Maybe it’s time you ask your pastor, “What do you think about Richard Foster and Celebration of Discipline?”

By Ray Yungen

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.

(This is an excerpt from Ray Yungen’s book, A Time of Departing.)

Endnotes:

1. Richard Foster, Longing for God: Seven Paths of Christian Devotion (InterVarsity Press, 2009), p. 84.
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.

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The “Regeneration of the Churches” – An Occult Dream Come True

By Ray Yungen

The Bible says that in the last days, many will come in Christ’s name. If one examines the “prophecies” of occulist  Alice Bailey, one can gain insight into what the apostle Paul called in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 the falling away. Bailey eagerly foretold of what she termed “the regeneration of the churches.”1 Her rationale for this was obvious:

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

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

In wide segments of Christianity, this has indeed already occurred. One Catholic priest alone taught 31,000 people mystical prayer in one year. People are responding to this in large numbers because it has the external appearance of Christianity but in truth is the diametric opposite­. This has all the indications of the falling away of which the apostle Paul speaks.

Note this departure is tied in with the revelation of the “man of sin.” If he is indeed Bailey’s “Coming One,” then both Paul’s prophecy and Bailey’s prophecy fit together perfectly—but indisputably from opposite camps and perspectives.

This is very logical when one sees, as Paul proclaimed, that they will fall away to “the mystery of iniquity” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). The word mystery in Greek, when used in the context of evil (iniquity), means hidden or occult!

Thomas Merton with the Dalai Lama (photo: Thomas Merton Center)

This revitalization of Christianity would fit in with Bailey’s “new and vital world religion”3—a religion that would be the cornerstone of the New Age. Such a religion would be the spiritual platform for the “Coming One.” This unity of spiritual thought would not be a single one-world denomination but would have a unity-in-diversity, multicultural, interfaith, ecumenical agenda. Thomas Merton made a direct reference to this at a spiritual summit conference in Calcutta, India when he told Hindus and Buddhists, “We are already one, but we imagine, we are not. What we have to recover is our original unity.”4

One can easily find numerous such appeals like Merton’s in contemplative writings. Examine the following:

The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others.5 —Vivekananda

It is my sense, from having meditated with persons from many different [non-Christian] traditions, that in the silence we experience a deep unity. When we go beyond the portals of the rational mind into the experience, there is only one God to be experienced.6—Basil Pennington

The new ecumenism involved here is not between Christian and Christian, but between Christians and the grace of other intuitively deep religious traditions.7—Tilden Edwards

What is happening to mainstream Christianity is the same thing that is happening to business, health, education, counseling, and other areas of society. Christianity is being cultivated for a role in the New Age. A spirit guide named Raphael explains this in the Starseed Transmissions:

We work with all who are vibrationally sympathetic; simple and sincere people who feel our spirit moving, but for the most part, only within the context of their current belief system.18 (emphasis mine)

He is saying that they “work,” or interact, with people who open their minds to them in a way that fits in with the person’s current beliefs. In the context of Christianity, this means that those meditating will think they have contacted God, when in reality they have connected up with Raphael’s kind (who are more than willing to impersonate whomever they wish to reach so long as these seductive spirits can link with them).

This ultimately points to a deluded global religion based on meditation and mystical experience. New Age writer David Spangler explains it the following way:

There will be several religious and spiritual disciplines as there are today, each serving different sensibilities and affinities, each enriched by and enriching the particular cultural soil in which it is rooted. However, there will also be a planetary spirituality that will celebrate the sacredness of the whole humanity in appropriate festivals, rituals, and sacraments. . . . Mysticism has always overflowed the bounds of particular religious traditions, and in the new world this would be even more true.9

What we are warning about is not some unprovable conspiracy theory. In fact, far from it. In March of 2016, Newsweek magazine put out a special edition called “Spiritual Living.” This glossy publication presented page after page of pure Alice Bailey spirituality. The entire issue was devoted to the mystical perception that man is divine:

The key to positive change—both internal and external—is present in everyone, and it also exists all around us. Whether through meditation, energy healing or a full-on spiritual awakening, you can transcend the physical world to better your mind, body and soul.10

That may sound kind of benign, but numerous articles in the magazine promote the idea of spirits that can indwell people. If this had been put out by the National Enquirer, then this could be dismissed as nothing more than sensationalistic or exaggerated. But Newsweek is one of the oldest and most respected news magazines in the world. When they make this kind of an effort, then we need to sit up and take notice that Alice Bailey’s religion has now come to the forefront of mainstream society. What this means according to those who are sympathetic with this is that if we are to be “spiritual,” we need to partake of Alice Bailey’s “new vital world religion.”  Sadly, more and more churches are doing just that.

Related Information:

100 Top Contemplative Proponents Evangelical Christians Turn To Today

Endnotes:

1. Alice Bailey, Problems of Humanity (New York, NY: Lucis Publishing, 1993), p. 152.
2. Alice Bailey, The Externalization of the Hierarchy (New York, NY: Lucis Publishing, 1976), p. 510.
3. Alice Bailey, Problems of Humanity, op. cit., p. 152.
4. Joel Beversluis, Project Editor, A Source Book for Earth’s Community of Religions (Grand Rapids, MI: CoNexus Press, 1995, Revised Edition), p. 151.
5. Swami Vivekananda’s “Addresses at the Parliament of Religions” (Chicago, September 27, 1893, http://www.interfaithstudies.org/interfaith/vivekparladdresses.html, accessed 12/2005).
6. M. Basil Pennington, Centered Living (New York, NY: Image Books, 1988), p. 192.
7. Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend (New York, NY: Paulist Press, 1980), p. 172.
8. Ken Carey, The Starseed Transmissions (A Uni-Sun Book, 1985 4th printing), p. 33.
9. David Spangler, Emergence: The Rebirth of the Sacred (New York, NY: Dell Publishing Co., New York, NY, 1984), p. 112.
10. Newsweek magazine, Special Edition: Spiritual Living, March 2016, p. 7.

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

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

FREEMASONRY: A Revealing Look at the Spiritual Side

By Carl Teichrib

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Religious?” No.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Interpretations

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

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

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

Others have said similar things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—In Their Own Words—

Religious Universalism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No true Mason is creed-bound. He realizes with the divine illumination of his lodge that as a Mason his religion must be universal: Christ, Buddha or Mohammed, the name means little, for he recognizes only the light and not the bearer. He worships at every shrine, bows before every altar, whether in temple, mosque or cathedral, realizing with his truer understanding the oneness of all spiritual truth . . . No true Mason can be narrow, for his Lodge is the divine expression of all broadness. (p. 65)

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

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

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

Spiritual Applications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Secret of Human Ascension

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Man is a god in the making, and as in the mystic myths of Egypt, on the potter’s wheel he is being molded. When his light shines out to lift and preserve all things, he receives the triple crown of godhood, and joins that throng of Master Masons who, in their robes of Blue and Gold, are seeking to dispel the darkness of night with the triple light of the Masonic Lodge. (p. 92)

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

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

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

Perfection in the Lodge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Henry C. Clausen explains:

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

Clausen continues:

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

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

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

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

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

J.D. Buck put it this way:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

To order copies of  FREEMASONRY: A Revealing Look at the Spiritual Side, click here. 

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

To order copies of  FREEMASONRY: A Revealing Look at the Spiritual Side, click here. 

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