In life, we come across certain people who are extraordinary in character. Ray Yungen was just such a person.
It was Ray who first made us aware of the Catholic contemplative mysticism and certain New Age practices becoming popular and entering the church. He did more than point them out, he explained what they were and why a Christian should not participate in this kind of spirituality. As he explained about centering prayer, also: contemplative prayer was a means for all to find the God within by attaining oneness with self. This is the basis for Eastern religions from which mystical traditions originate.
Ray did not parse the truth, but he was considerate in the way he presented it to those caught in deceptions. A ministry is validated by a person’s example of being a servant, willing to help others, and not just by what they know. His knowledge did not surpass his caring, and his passion was genuine in helping others who were deceived by contemplative and New Age practices. Ray was always pleasant to speak with and be with.
I remember several years ago when we got together to film an Emerging Church DVD. We were sitting at the dinner table waiting for the food when Ray pulled out the book, The Shack, and read some quotes, asking us what we thought. He wanted our input before he voiced what his own concerns.
Another night, we decided to visit the local secular bookstore in town, and he immediately grabbed a few books off the shelves showing us the very same practices that the church was contending with. Ray was always animated about his ministry work.
I spoke with Ray a year ago on the phone as he was concerned about his health, especially his immune system. We discussed what could and could not be used to boost his immune system, which was very low at the time, avoiding any type of New Age medicine or techniques. Neither of us had any idea that this could later become cancer.
Being in this camp of apologetics, Ray was on the front line as a watchman who spoke on the changes of the church from inside influences of what we call the New Age teachings.
It is those who realize what is at stake who speak out. There is no doubt that Ray had his share of enemies, those who were willing to fight against him, not understanding what he was saying—they were just reacting to the things he said were wrong and dangerous. But he also had many friends who benefited from his friendship, his research, and his writings. Ray will be dearly missed. He leaves a legacy of research and writing that will be referred to by many in the years to come.
Ray is now, by the grace of God, able to rest and enjoy his rewards.
LTRJ Note: The following is a video of Ray Yungen and Mike Oppenheimer having a discussion about the things Mike was referring to in this tribute: