To Lighthouse Trails:
I have sent you some material I thought I would never be sending you. First of all, Dr. Clyde Narramore, founder of the Narramore Christian Foundation, has gone to be with the Lord on 7/27/15 at the age of 98. Second, the magazine Psychology For Living is put out by the Narramore Christian Foundations. Third, there is an article I never thought I would see in it, so I’m sending the article to you.
I’m extremely upset over this. Dr. Bruce Narramore now heads the N.C.F. I don’t know what your thoughts on psychology are but with me I don’t feel you can reject the whole package but you can’t buy and endorse the whole package either! I believe in treating psychology the same way you would treat alternative medicine. Few things are fine but a lot of it isn’t.
Are Christians who want insight therapy and/or need to see a Christian psychologist going to be stuck with a contemplative counselor? Where or how is anybody going to find a Christian counselor who won’t send them down the contemplative river?
LTRP Editors Comments and Documentation:
The reader above has legitimate concerns. Many Christians seek the help of psychologists or counselors. While psychology generally does not lead one to Christ or point to His Word and typically has a humanistic foundation, and while many Christian counselors do not offer biblically based counsel as well, things have gotten even worse as Lighthouse Trails has witnessed over the last 15 years as both camps are moving more and more into the New Age/contemplative meditation camp. Larry Crabb is a perfect example of this. As stated several years ago in a Christianity Today article, Crabb decided to move from traditional psychology into Spiritual Direction (i.e., contemplative spirituality).
In the article by Psychology for Living (titled “Why Is It So Difficult For Me To Change? (part 3): Using Prayer and Christian Meditation to Change Your Brain”) that our reader made reference to above, the following statements are made:
“[W]e sometimes can’t overcome our problems simply by gaining more information—even more biblical knowledge.”
“Rediscovering Prayer and Meditation in the Christian Community—Prayer and meditation are well-known practices in most cultures of the world. Recent scientific findings in brain research show that they can bring about changes in our brains and physical health. They can also lessen anxiety and depression. . . . Unfortunately, the Western emphasis on secularism, narcissism, achievement . . . has often caused us to forget the biblical instruction to “Be still and know that I am God.” . . .Our lives are so fast paced.”
“Certain monastic traditions within Catholicism and isolated emphases on meditative prayer among Protestants are the rare exceptions. Eastern religions have largely retained meditative traditions.” [The article later tries to differentiate between Eastern and “biblically based prayer and meditation.”]
While the article gives a good description of what Eastern meditation is, ironically, it quotes Timothy Keller explaining what Buddhist meditation is. Keller is a strong proponent of contemplative meditation.
Worth noting, the article says that in Eastern meditation “[t]he goal . . . is to rid oneself of all thoughts.” But this is exactly what “Christian” contemplatives say we must do in “Christian” meditation. For example, Brennan Manning states: “The first step of faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer.” –The Signature of Jesus, Brennan Manning, p. 212 . And Thomas Keating (a foremost advocate for “Christian” contemplative prayer) states: “In Contemplative Prayer, not thinking is the important thing.” (Resting In God—An Interview with Thomas Keating, OSCO by Anne A. Simpson, editor of Common Boundary, Common Boundary, September/October 1997). Virtually every contemplative teacher talks about the need to slow down, get rid of distractions (and thoughts), and repeat a word or phrase in order to rid one’s self of these thoughts and distractions.
While this article explains that the intent of Eastern meditation is much different than the intent in contemplative meditation, we must reject such a view. In both Eastern and “Christian” meditation, the method is basically the same (focusing on the breath or an object or repeating a word or phrase), and we believe, from evidence we have seen with those practicing contemplative prayer, that the results (becoming interspiritual) are going to be the same as well. If one goes into an altered state by repeating a Christian word over and over, he or she is going to enter the same realm that is entered when someone is repeating “om” or another sound. Intent is not going to change the results. We have seen so many in the Christian contemplative camp turn toward interspirituality (all paths lead to God) after devoting their lives to contemplative prayer. This is because the realm entered in meditation is a realm with familiar spirits (demons) who deceive those willing to enter this realm and lead them away from the Cross, not to it.
If repeating a word or phrase or focusing on the breath was such a vital part of the Christian life, how is it that both Jesus and the disciples never once encouraged us to do that? How could they forget to teach such an “important” spiritual practice. Contemplative Beth Moore says we can’t even know God without the contemplative silence. Wow. If that were the case, then Jesus and the disciples did us a terrible disservice. (And we know that is not the case.)
The author of this article sees Eastern meditation as Buddhist derived; but what he doesn’t understand is that “Christian” contemplative mediation is also basically Buddhist derived.