In a July 4th article in the San Antonio Express-News, it features Thomas Keating, a Catholic monk who has been instrumental in bringing contemplative spirituality out of the monasteries to the layperson. In the article, Keating conveyed what contemplative mystics have been saying for centuries: mysticism is the common ground among all the world’s religions. This article illustrates why Lighthouse Trails is so concerned about the huge role contemplative spirituality is now playing in evangelical and Protestant churches. We believe that this will ultimately lead to what the Bible calls the mystery of iniquity (i.e., the occult: essentially the belief that man and God are identical). Thomas Merton, another Catholic contemplative monk, put it this way: “The contemplative experience is neither a union of separate identities nor a fusion of them; on the contrary, separate identities disappear in the All Who is God.”1
The San Antonio article, “Monk says contemplative prayer like ‘resting in God'” talks about the relationship between science and religion, a topic that is slowly gaining momentum these days:
Science is discovering the oneness of the source of all the material universe as we know it, and by the oneness that appears in all structural forms of life and then the oneness that the spiritual practice of contemplative prayer brings in recognizing our commonality, our common ground with all other human beings and indeed all of nature.
When the article says “the oneness of the source of all the material universe,” it is referring to what some are calling the “new sciences” or the “spiritual sciences.” This new science is hoping to convince society that every cell in the universe is connected to one another and that by practicing contemplative prayer (going into the silence) one will awaken to realize this universal oneness.
It is coincidental that this article comes out the same time Lighthouse Trails releases A “Wonderful” Deception by Warren Smith. Smith identifies the character of this “new science” in his new book. Smith asks what would rationalize Christian leaders to embrace a “new worldview that would mesh Christianity with the New Age/New Spirituality and other religions.” He says the “answer might very well come through the ‘new science’ and the ‘new math’–quantum physics, chaos theory, and fractal theory–the ‘new science’ attempt to scientifically prove that God is not only ‘transcendent’ but also ‘immanent’–that God is ‘in’ everything (AWD, p. 165).
The San Antonio article says that science and religion “have been at one another’s throats but that has begun to shift in the last generation or two.” But it predicts that: “it should shift a lot more as one recognizes that science is speaking a language that is very similar to that of the mystical experiences of all the world religions, and mainly the sense of cosmic oneness and interaction and communication beyond space and time.”
The world’s mystics would resonate with this belief that mysticism is the commonality among all world religions. Even Tony Campolo suggested this in his book Speaking My Mind when he said “a theology of mysticism provides some hope for common ground between Christianity and Islam” (see pp. 149-150). And of course Thomas Merton often spoke of this common ground within all religious traditions. And as for New Agers, this is one of their core “values.” In the New Age book, As Above, So Below, occultist Aldous Huxley is referenced regarding the “Perennial Wisdom” that believes that “the metaphysical (mysticism) unites all things together in all the world’s religions” (pp. 2-3).
There is a reason why practicing mysticism gives this sense of unity within all religious traditions. It is because that place of silence or the mystical altered state is actually a realm of familiar spirits (Leviticus 19:31 KJV). The very fact that mysticism unites all religions is proof that mystical practices are not sanctioned by the God of the Bible, who has clearly stated that there is only one path to God (Jesus Christ) and that all the world’s religions will never be united under this true God. Rather, every knee will bow and be brought under submission to the only true God and Savior, Jesus Christ. The gods of this world will never be one or in unity with the true God. When Henri Nouwen, at the end of a life of practicing mysticism said that he believed that Jesus wasn’t the only way to God and that he felt it was his mission to help people find their own way to God, he was expressing the core perception of the mystical view.2 As Warren Smith points out in A “Wonderful” Deception, the rationale for this is stated by Nouwen when he said, “The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is also the God who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being.”
Some people may accuse Lighthouse Trails and those with similar concerns of being narrow and legalistic, but those who look at this rationally and straight on, if they are being honest, would have to see that there is a distinct opposition to these two views (preaching of the Cross versus God in everyone). In Christianity, the message is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shall be saved. Nouwen’s view is God dwells in everybody’s heart from the moment of birth just because they are human. If that is the case, why believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior? That is why Nouwen (as are other contemplatives today) was so lackadaisical about the Gospel. In other words, it made Nouwen uncomfortable. Of course, it made him uncomfortable–because it rejected what he believed about the human condition!
We believe this “shift” that the San Antonio article is talking about could be the very thing that Scripture warns against when it states: “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.” (I Timothy 4:1) As the world “shifts” toward the common belief that humanity (and all creation) is united through a divine, cosmic, “scientific” energy that the new scientists will say exists in all things, and as much of Christianity heads that way too through the contemplative prayer practices, Bible-believing Christians must continue to warn their loved ones of this very real and fast-moving spiritual deception.
1. Brother Patrick Hart-Editor, The Message of Thomas Merton, op. cit., p. 200. (quoted in A Time of Departing, chapter 4)
2. Henri Nouwen, Sabbatical Journey, p. 51.
3. Warren Smith, A “Wonderful” Deception,” 2009, p. 63, citing Henri Nouwen, Here and Now , 1997 edition, p. 22.