By Kevin Reeves
and the Editors at Lighthouse Trails
A number of years ago, a book written by emerging-church leaders Brian McLaren and Leonard Sweet was released. The book was called A is for Abductive: the language of the emerging church. Going through the alphabet, the authors identified many terms they hoped would be picked up by the younger generation, thus creating a unique emerging spiritual atmosphere. They called it a “primer with a mission.”1 That mission that McLaren, Sweet, and other like-minded change agents embrace has been successful in bringing in a new kind of “Christianity,” which is not biblical Christianity but rather a “New” Christianity now permeating the halls of Christian colleges, seminaries, evangelical churches, small groups, ministries, and organizations. We have compiled common terms and their basic meanings to help uncover the true meaning behind some of the deceptive language of the “New” Christianity (i.e., the New Spirituality).
What Does That Mean?
Therefore my people are gone into captivity, because they have no knowledge: and their honourable men are famished, and their multitude dried up with thirst. (Isaiah 5:13)
A great deal of confusion resides in today’s church. In the West, particularly, discernment among Christians is at an alarmingly low ebb. Even genuine believers in Christ have been led astray from the primacy of the Bible and swept up into an ecumenical, interspiritual environment which marks so much of our current Christian practice. Formerly solid Christian fellowships have been torn loose from scriptural moorings and now float on an endless sea of experiential religion. Anecdotal preaching has replaced time-honored biblical exposition; feelings take priority over the Scriptures; pulpit charisma rules congregations steeped in modern culture.
For Christians who understand the times in which we live and who are committed to defending the faith and warning others of spiritual deception, much of the difficulty in doing so resides in the fact that the terminology used by New Christianity/New Spirituality leaders and authors is either completely new to the biblical Christian or the terms are the same but definitions have changed.
Ignorance of the schemes of the devil is no virtue. It is incumbent upon us to “[s]tudy to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), and in being properly equipped, to speak truth to the erring Christian and help him return to the real “ancient paths” (Jeremiah 18:15) that God laid out from the foundation of the world.
Each of the definitions of the following terms are short and in no way fully explain the complexities often involved. But we hope this glossary will help you to better understand the nature of the enemy’s deceptive plans to distinguish scriptural truth and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Language of the New Spirituality
Absence of Thought: The mental state sought after by those practicing contemplative prayer or meditation. By repeating a word or phrase or concentrating on the breath or an object, the mind goes into an altered state of consciousness and all thought becomes absent.
Alchemy: One of the terms used in the popular book, Jesus Calling, it is an ancient mystical art of the occult. Webster’s definition uses the words mystical and syncretist religion and astrology to describe alchemy.
Alignment: Spiritually speaking, bringing one’s will into conformity with the vision and goals of a religious organization or church.2
Alpha: It is the goal of meditators to reach the alpha state where the mind is in a kind of neutral trance or hypnotic slumber.
Altered State of Consciousness: A meditative or drug-induced non-ordinary state of mind. In a religious context, a state where the seeker is drawn out of his normal thinking processes into “self-realization” or contact with what he considers the divine or divine wisdom.
Ancient Disciplines (see also Spiritual Disciplines): This is not talking about ancient as in Bible days but rather is referring to Desert Fathers (monks and hermits) who drew from pagan religions and began practicing an eastern-style meditation.
Ancient Future: see Vintage Faith
Ancient Wisdom: The supposed laws of the universe that, when mastered, enable one to control one’s own reality. Another word for metaphysics or occultism.
Aquarius/Aquarian Age: Sign of the Zodiac represented by the water carrier or the Earth Age associated with this astrological sign. The term New Age refers to the coming Aquarian age, which is in the process of replacing the Pisces Age. According to astrologers, every 2,000 years constitutes an age. New Agers predict this Aquarian age will be a time of utopia, when man will come into a fuller knowledge of his supposed inherent divinity.
As Above, So Below: This term is seen as the key to unlocking all occultic practice as described in the New Age book, As Above, So Below. Signifies that God is “in” everything and man is divine. Used in Eugene Peterson’s book The Message “Bible” in the Lord’s Prayer. (Warren B. Smith explains this term in further detail in Deceived on Purpose).
At-one-ment (replaces atonement): This term has nothing to do with the atonement of Jesus Christ on the Cross; rather it is the concept that every human being and all creation is at one with each other. We are all connected together because “God” is flowing through everything and everyone.
Automatic Writing: When one enters an altered state of consciousness through a meditative practice, he or she acts as a conduit for supernatural entities or spirit guides (actually demons or familiar spirits), allowing those entities to “dictate,” via pen and paper. The act of writing down what those entities communicate.
Awakening: New Spirituality proponents say man is waking up to the realization that he is God, that divinity is within him. Thomas Merton spoke of man realizing what is already there (“God”). New Spirituality leader Leonard Sweet put this on the cover of his book Nudge— Awakening Each Other to the God Who’s Already There. Richard Foster told researcher Ray Yungen once that Thomas Merton “tried to awaken God’s people” (meaning through mysticism).
Be Still: Taken from Psalm 46:10—“Be Still and Know That I Am God.” Those promoting contemplative prayer use this phrase as part of their meditative exercises, claiming that the verse is a mandate in Scripture to practice the “silence,” when in fact, the Scripture, when taken in context, means to trust in the Lord. It has nothing to do with going into a meditative state by shutting down thought processes.
Breath Prayer: Practice consisting of picking a single word or short phrase and repeating it in conjunction with the breath. Rick Warren encourages the use of breath prayers in his highly popular book, The Purpose Driven Life.
Catalyst: Taking pastors and leaders to a “new level” (i.e., leaving the old ways and moving into “new” innovative methods and ideas). Emphasizing that everything must change and must change quickly and dramatically.
Centering/Centering Prayer: Another term for meditation (going deep within your center). A type of meditation being promoted in many mainline churches under the guise of biblical prayer, but which is actually Buddhist or Hindu in origin. Larry Crabb tells readers in his book, The Papa Prayer, that he has been greatly benefited from centering prayer. Sadly, Christian leaders such as Erwin Lutzer, James Kennedy and Jerry Falwell endorsed Crabb’s book.
Chakras: Believed by New Agers to be seven energy centers in man, aligned along the spine, which open up during the kundalini effect in meditation.
Channeling (see also Automatic Writing): Altered state of consciousness whereby the channeler opens himself up to inhabitation by spirits, often the supposed spirits of the dead or “ancient masters” who convey hidden mysteries. Acting as a medium.
Christ-Consciousness: Taught by New Agers to be the state of awareness, reached in meditation, in which one realizes one’s own divinity and oneness with God, thereby becoming a “christ” or enlightened being.
Christ Follower: While there is nothing inadvertently wrong with this term, New Christianity/New Spirituality proponents have captured the term to say a “Christian” is a dogmatic, preachy, uncaring, irrelevant person whereas a Christ follower doesn’t preach or carry around a Bible (which they say makes unbelievers/unchurched uncomfortable) but rather becomes integrated into the culture, absorbing the culture. Whereas a Christian is set apart, the Christ follower focuses on relationships, community, and social justice, they say. It is the idea that you can go for Jesus, but you don’t have to identify yourself as a Christian or part of the Christian church (for more on the term Christ follower, see http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4810).
Christian Formation: See Spiritual Formation
“Christian” Yoga: Some claim that Yoga can be neutralized by performing a Christian rendition of it. But even Hindu yogis say there is no such thing as “Christian” yoga because the exercises cannot be separated from the religious aspects. Yoga is the heartbeat of Hinduism.
Civility: Basically, no one is to challenge or question another’s beliefs. All are valid.
Cloud of Unknowing: An ancient primer on contemplative prayer written by an anonymous monk. It instructs: “Take just a little word, of one syllable rather than of two . . . With this word you are to strike down every kind of thought under the cloud of forgetting.”
Co-Creator/Co-Creation: According to New Spirituality/emerging church advocates, man is a co-creator with God because man is equal, in abilities and nature, to God.
Colonialism: A derogatory term used by New Spirituality advocates to describe those who are still clinging to the “old time religion,” which is seen as outdated, archaic, irrelevant, and unsuccessful.
Common Ground: Using the dialectic process, an agreement among people that “ameliorates the extremes,” thus effectually dispensing with tolerance for diversity.3 In practice, it is arriving at agreement through compromise. A one-world religion will be achieved through this means.
Contemplative Prayer: Going beyond thought by the use of repeated prayer words or phrases. Similar to centering prayer in that it encourages a clearing of the mind of conscious thought in order to create a spiritual receptivity to God or the divine.
Contextual Theology: The belief that the Bible, in and of itself, is not free-standing—other factors (culture, ethnicity, history) must be taken into consideration, and with those factors, the message of the Bible must be adjusted to fit.
Convergent: A coming together or unifying of ideas. The boundaries that distinguish different beliefs are eradicated.
Conversation (or Conversation Journey): New Christianity followers reject the idea that truth is unchangeable or that we can have certainty in knowing truth; thus, we have “conversations” that are always seeking answers but never finding. To be certain of anything is arrogant, they say. This ongoing conversation journey is inclusive of all beliefs and ideas; nothing is rejected.
Cosmic Christ: All world religions will eventually be bound together by the “Cosmic Christ” principle, which is another term for the higher self; thus, the Cosmic Christ is the “Christ” within every human being. The Catholic Church now has in its Catechism the concept that we are all Christs.
Creative Visualization: Imaging in the mind, during meditation especially, a desired object or occurrence, then expecting its physical fulfillment. In simple terms, it is a practice that supposedly creates one’s own reality. Though pagan in origin, this practice has its “Christian” counterpart in various aspects of the charismatic/Pentecostal church, most notably in Word of Faith, in which faith proclamations are enjoined with visualizing the desired result.
Critical Mass: While a scientific term, when speaking of populations of people it is referring to “an explosion in global consciousness capable of ‘touching’ or transforming all of humankind.”4 The idea is that when a certain critical number of people all share the same awareness, then change can come to all people’s thinking because of the critical mass (as in an atomic explosion). A critical mass does not have to be a majority if it is a powerful enough mass, but unity is essential and so is meditation.
Cultural Architect: An emerging church/progressive Christianity term for pastor or leader with the idea that these cultural architects differ from their pastor counterparts in that they are in touch with the culture and are relevant.
Daniel Plan: Saddleback Church’s fifty-two week spiritual and physical health and wellness program. For the program, Warren enlisted the assistance of three physicians with New Age/holistic medicine beliefs and teachings (Dr. Mehmet Oz, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hymen).
Dark Night of the Soul: Term coined by John of the Cross, describing a time of intense inner crisis in which the seeker feels far from God. It is highly typical of contemplatives to use this idea of spiritual dryness or emptiness to convince followers they need something more in their relationship with God. Contemplatives insist that the “old ways” don’t work anymore.
De-Construction: Undoing the old traditional Christianity. In A is for Abductive, McLaren says it is “disassembling anything that has acquired a pat and patent set of meanings [i.e., doctrine] for the purpose of reassembling in new ways [i.e., emerging/New Spirituality]” (p. 95).
Desert Fathers: A group of ancient Christian monks living in wilderness areas of the Middle East who practiced contemplative prayer, borrowing meditation techniques from Hindu and Buddhist sources. You will often find references to the Desert Fathers in contemplative-promoting books.
Dominionism: The belief that God’s people will rise up as overcomers and put Satan and his minions under their (not Christ’s) feet. According to Dominionists, Christ cannot return until this is accomplished. The rapture is discounted as a myth, with the declaration that Christ will return, not for His people, but rather already in them (no physical return). The overcomers will then present to Christ a faultless world where He will then rule.
Ecstasy: The hoped-for outcome of contemplative prayer or meditation wherein the seeker is carried out of himself into a oneness with the Divine. People say they experience an ecstasy compared to nothing they have ever known before. They feel a sense of unity with all of life and are convinced of their own immortality. Such experiences keep them returning for more. One is not going to believe he or she is God if one doesn’t feel like God.
Ecumenism: The merging of the various Christian denominations and doctrinal persuasions resulting in a dilution of biblical faith.
Emergent: The term emergent was first used by the group (Brian McLaren, Tony Jones, Dan Kimball, Mark Driscoll, etc.) originally called Young Leaders Network. When they left Leadership Network to go on their own, they became Emergent. Today the terms emergent and emerging are often used interchangeably.
Emerging Church: Postmodern congregations that follow a loose set of doctrines promoting a redefinition of Christianity and incorporating into their fellowships some or all of the following: Roman Catholic mysticism and contemplative prayer, eastern meditation techniques, pagan religious practices such as walking the labyrinth, Lectio Divina, mantra, etc. Highly ecumenical. The focus is on social justice and cultural relevancy rather than the Gospel and the Word of God. Emphasis is on a social gospel as opposed to a personal Gospel.
Eucharist: The small wafer administered during the Communion portion of the Catholic Mass. When consecrated by the priest, the wafer supposedly becomes the literal body of Christ. Some emerging and evangelical churches are turning their communion services into modifications of the Catholic Eucharistic mass.
Fractal: Directly related to what are being called the “new sciences” of “Chaos Theory” and “Fractal Theory.” Linked with the occult phrase “as above, so below.” Mentioned in William Paul Young’s book, The Shack.
Fresh: New Spirituality advocates say we need to see God in new “fresh” ways. Rick Warren says this in The Purpose Driven Life. Occultist Alice Bailey says the path to God will be based on “a fresh orientation to divinity and to the acceptance of the fact of God Transcendent and of God Immanent within every form of life.”5
Fusion: A common term within New Spirituality to describe a fusing together of ideas, beliefs, and people.
Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan: Initiative originating with Saddleback Church’s pastor Rick Warren, where social justice “deeds” take precedence over doctrine and beliefs.
God’s Dream: A crossover term used by both the New Age and the church and oftentimes connotes desire for world peace. When people of all faiths move past “doctrinal idiosyncrasies” and “transcend divisive dogmas,” they can attain “God’s Dream” for world peace.
Ground of All Being: New Ager Marilyn Ferguson wrote that God is within everyone and everything. God is described as the universal “ground of all being.”
Higher Self: Supposed God-self within each human being. New Agers seek to connect, through meditation, with their higher self. Also called the Christ-Self or True-Self. Brennan Manning helped to bring this term into the evangelical church.
Holy Laughter: Considered by proponents to be a sign of “revival,” holy laughter is uncontrollable laughter, often spontaneous and mass-manifested, erupting in response to “the anointing” or the supposed manifest presence of God.
Ignatius Exercises: Meditative exercises named after Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Catholic Jesuit Order.
Immanence: The New Age belief that God is in everyone.
Incarnational: A term used to describe an emerging “progressive” kind of evangelism that focuses on the needs of people but downplays the importance of sharing the Gospel message (as that can offend).
Individualism: New Spirituality advocates resent individualism, saying that is the old way of viewing things. Now we must be collective, unified. Individual relationships with Jesus Christ are to be replaced with communities in which social justice is the focus.
Interspirituality: The premise that divinity (God) is in all things, and the presence of God is in all religions; a connecting together of all things, and through mysticism (i.e., meditation), this state of divinity can be recognized. Consequently, a premise based on and upheld by an experience that occurs during a self-hypnotic trance linking one to an unseen world rather than to the sound doctrine of the Bible. Wayne Teasdale, a lay monk who coined the term interspirituality, says that interspirituality is “the spiritual common ground which exists among the world’s religions.”
Jesus Prayer: A popular version of this prayer, often used in contemplative meditation, is “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” often abbreviated to “Jesus.”
Kingdom Now: A teaching that Christians should be walking consistently in supernatural power and establishing Christ’s kingdom on earth. Much overlap exists between Kingdom Now, Dominionism, and Latter Rain theology.
Kingdom of God: New Spirituality believes the kingdom of God can be brought to earth through humanity becoming one. When they use this term, they don’t mean it in the sense the Bible uses it but rather it is a kingdom based on the unity of all mankind and man realizing his divinity. There is no Cross in this kingdom.
Kundalini: Powerful energy associated with the chakras and brought on through meditation. Hindu in origin, kundalini manifestations include uncontrollable shaking, writhing, convulsions, trance states, a sensation of fire or electricity on or in the body, swooning, etc.
Labyrinth: An ancient pattern, often constructed of rocks or cement, wherein a circular pathway leads to a central point. Originating in Greek mythology, labyrinths are gaining a strong following among practitioners of contemplative prayer and are becoming a visible part of church landscaping and architecture. Seekers of any faith are encouraged to walk the labyrinth’s pathways and pray for an individual experience with God. Read Carl Teichrib’s booklet The Labyrinth Journey for a complete explanation.
Lectio Divina: Means “sacred reading.” This contemplative prayer practice is gaining popularity within the evangelical/Protestant camp. It often involves taking a single word or small phrase from Scripture and repeating the words over and over in order to “hear from God.” Basically, Scripture is being misused as a tool for meditation.
Making History: Another way of saying things must change.
Mantra: Word or words repeated either silently or out loud in order to induce an altered state of consciousness. A way to turn off thoughts and enter the “silence.”
Maturity: A term used by all contemplatives, such as Richard Foster and Rick Warren, to describe the outcome of someone who is a regular practitioner of contemplative prayer. The traditional view of God, they say, is somewhat immature or childish, and the contemplative view of God is mature. In other words, the mystical view of God will give true maturity as opposed to a more juvenile or childish view of God.
Meditation: The meditation most of us are familiar with involves a deep, continuous thinking about something. But New Age meditation does just the opposite. It involves ridding oneself of all thoughts in order to still the mind by putting it in the equivalent of pause or neutral. A comparison would be that of turning a fast-moving stream into a still pond. When meditation is employed by damming the free flow of thinking, it holds back active thought and causes a shift in consciousness. This condition is not to be confused with daydreaming, where the mind dwells on a subject. New Age meditation works as a holding mechanism until the mind becomes thoughtless, empty, and silent.
Meditation and Contemplation (Biblical): A normal thinking process of reflecting on the things of God and biblical precepts.
Metaphysical: Beyond the physical realm or pertaining to the supernatural.
Mindfulness: A Buddhist term from bapasana. It’s the practice of meditation. Gives the classic Buddhist spiritual enlightenment. Now it is being used in virtually every area of human endeavor: stress reduction, education, medicine, post-traumatic stress, and stress in the workplace.
Missional (also Missional Church): Replacing the term missions; it strives to improve society through social justice. De-emphasizes evangelism to the lost. Emphasizes being relevant and connected to the culture.
Mysticism: A direct experience with the supernatural realm.
Namaste: A greeting that occurs at the end of each Yoga session—meaning the god in me greets the god in you.
New Age: In a religious context, an all-encompassing spirituality, sourced in ancient pagan practices that defies specific “doctrinal” definitions. It is geared toward New Age religion, which can incorporate teachings and practices from virtually any other religion or non-religion such as Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Wicca, astrology, alchemy, veganism, homeopathic medicine, tarot cards, crystal gazing, etc.
New Apostolic Reformation (NAR): Teaches that there are apostles and prophets today in the church who are equal to or greater than the apostles and prophets who wrote the Bible and that to come into the fullness of Christ, the church needs to submit to them. Teachings include varying degrees of Latter Rain, Five-Fold Ministry, Dominion, and Kingdom Now theologies.6
New Reformation: The emerging church says there is a “new” reformation every 500 years, and we are due for one now. Whereas the last reformation was a breaking away from the Roman Catholic Church, this one will be a uniting of all belief systems. The late emerging church leader Phyllis Tickle said once that Brian McLaren is the next Luther.7
New Thought: Movement that tries to merge classic occult concepts with Christian terminology. Two examples are Christian Science and Unity church.
Non-dualism: Ray Yungen says Satan is trying to eradicate the gap between good and evil. In the New Spirituality, there is no “dualism” (good and bad, right and wrong, etc.).
Nonphysical Guides: Spirit guides or as the Bible refers, familiar spirits and demons.
Occult: Means “hidden” and refers to spiritual practices utilized to contact the supernatural realm. The practice of metaphysics throughout history.
Oneness: God is in everyone and everything.
Oneness Blessing: An effort to bring the Oneness Blessing to millions of people around the world with the hope of changing people’s consciousness and thus the state of the planet. This Oneness experience takes place when a Oneness Blessing giver places his or her hands on a person’s head (although it can also be bestowed through eye contact or even simple intention), and a sense of awakening into oneness is imparted.8
Organic Church: Often called a house church or simple church movement; different from “going to church.” The organic church sees itself as new, vibrant, and unique, not like the “outdated” traditional church.
Palms Down, Palms Up: A contemplative exercise wherein with eyes closed, one puts his palms up to receive from God and his palms downward to get rid of the bad within him.
Panentheism: God is in all things. God is both personal and is also in all of creation. It is a universal view that believes God is in all people and that someday all of God’s creation will be saved and be one with him. There is a physical dimension but God is true essence and real identity.
Pantheism: God is all things. The universe and all life are connected in a sum. This sum is the total reality of God. Thus, man, animals, plants, and all physical matter are seen as equal. The assumption is “all is one,” therefore, all is deity.
Paradigm Shift: See Shift
Postmodernism: A fluid term indicating a worldview in direct opposition to the morals, logic, and societal expression of the modern world from the Enlightenment through the beginning of the Twentieth Century. Truth is viewed as a social construct and is not objective or absolute. In the emerging church, it is marked by a disdain for both solid biblical exegesis and rational theological discourse, and an embracing of individual experience, desires, or thought processes over objective truth. In the emerging mind, one is always seeking but never finding. Doubt is heralded whereas certainty is considered arrogant.
Practicing the Presence of God: Taken from the ancient monk Brother Lawrence’s book by the same name, today the phrase is used in conjunction with practicing contemplative prayer. God’s presence is no longer based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ for the born-again believer but focuses on “practicing” God’s presence through meditative exercises such as Lectio Divina or centering prayer.
Prayer of the Heart: Another term for contemplative prayer. A move from doctrine to the mystical. Henri Nouwen stated: “The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart.”9
Prayer Path: See Labyrinth
Progressive: A term used to replace the term emerging or emergent, meaning a type of advanced Christian who has shed the old stale ways of traditional biblical Christianity.
Quantum Spirituality: When man overcomes his physical boundaries and limitations and becomes a fully realized being, awakened to the consciousness that he is God (also Quantum Leap).
Red-letter Christians: A term promoted by Tony Campolo and other “progressive” emerging figures who say they follow the red letters of Jesus in the Bible. They focus primarily on Christ’s words of love and forgiveness but disregard His words about judgment, sin, and evil.
Reiki: Spiritual energy channeled by one attuned to the Reiki power. Literally, translated god energy.
Replacement Theology: The belief that the Christian church has replaced Israel, and Israel no longer has any significance from a biblically prophetic point of view. God’s promise of an eternal covenant with Israel was not eternal after all, according to this view. See Mike Oppenheimer’s booklet Israel: Replacing What God Has Not.
Re-words (re-jesus, re-imagine, re-think, re-form, re-invent, re-imagine): Words used to suggest that traditional historical Christianity is outdated and must be re-created.
Sacred Space: Either a physical spot where one goes to engage in a mystical practice or the actual silence (state of being) during the mystical experience.
Scripture Engagement: When used, often includes Lectio Divina. Biblegateway.com, a popular online Bible resource, is promoting Lectio Divina through “Scriptural Engagement.”
Seeker-friendly: When a church puts more emphasis on making unbelievers comfortable in church and less emphasis on discipling believers. Regular members are often encouraged to leave their Bibles at home so “seekers” are not made to feel uncomfortable.
Self-centered: In the eyes of the New Age/New Spirituality teachers, anyone who is not focused on bringing about global unity and world peace through interspirituality is self-centered. “Self-centered” people do not believe that all humans are connected to each other with a god-energy in each person. To say that God is separate from man is “self-centered.” Rick Warren uses this term numerous times in his book The Purpose Driven Life in the context of unity and peace.
Self-realization: Full contact with the higher self, resulting in knowing oneself to be God. The “enlightenment” that occurs, often during meditation, wherein the practitioner becomes aware of his divinity or his connection with the divine.
Servant Leadership: Today, there is much talk about teaching people to become good leaders. In reality, what is happening is people are being taught to be “good” followers who do not exercise discernment. The term (and the concept) is used to further encourage people to accept the teachings of the New Age/New Spirituality.
Shift: The idea that the church needs a radically different view of approaching and experiencing God.
Silence, the: Absence of normal thought. Common in Hindu, Buddhist, and Christian contemplative practice and is supposedly a state, often reached through meditation, where the practitioner can be in touch with his higher self, the universe, or the divine.
Slaughterhouse Religion: The belief that a loving God would never send his son to a violent “slaughterhouse” death for the sake of others. It rejects the view of substitutionary atonement (see Faith Undone for an entire chapter on this).
Soaking or Soaking Prayer: A method commonly seen in charismatic revival meetings. The participant receives the particular anointing present, normally through the laying on of hands, and “soaks” in the supposed presence of God. Manifestations associated with soaking prayer can include slain in the spirit, uncontrollable shaking or laughter, being encompassed by a sense of heaviness, spontaneous visions, altered states of consciousness, etc.
Social Justice (and Social Gospel): Shifts the emphasis from repentance and faith in Jesus Christ to more earthly endeavors like environment, empowerment, employment, entitlements, equality, and esteem-building programs promoted by global elites to benefit or punish selected people groups as needed for its “sustainable development”—an agenda more in keeping with that of a community organizer than a follower of Christ.10
Soul Care: Another term for “spiritual direction” with the purpose of finding the divinity that is within each person through contemplative meditation.
Source: An overlapping word used in both the New Age and the church as a substitute for God.
Spiritual Disciplines: The supposed disciplines used in Spiritual Formation for the purpose of becoming more christ-like. Can include fasting, prayer, good deeds, and always includes the “discipline” of contemplative prayer (e.g., solitude and silence). The Desert Fathers practiced extensively self-denial and disciplines, which as Paul indicates in Colossians 2:20-23 only provide “a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility.”
Spiritual Director: One who promotes or mentors people in the spiritual disciplines. Often ministering in Christian retreat centers or employed by Christian colleges.
Spiritual Formation: A movement that has provided a platform and a channel through which contemplative prayer has entered the church. Find spiritual formation being used, and in nearly every case you will find contemplative spirituality being promoted. In fact, contemplative spirituality is the heartbeat of the spiritual formation movement. In spiritual formation, it is believed that if you practice certain disciplines, you will become more christ-like.
Superconsciousness: Basically, the New Age concept of how one connects with God. The word conscious means awareness and super mean larger or greater. This realm that exists is not known by the ordinary five senses, so when one gets in touch with it, he is achieving ultimate awareness. This is also the realm of familiar spirits. This term is used in the third Harry Potter book in conjunction with meditation and the inner eye (from the chakras).
Synergy: Working together in unity to bring about the spiritual evolution of man.
Taize: Taize is an ecumenical interspiritual community in France. Taize worship is a prayer service consisting of meditative singing and periods of silence in order to reach a contemplative state.
Tantra (aka: tantric sex): Tantra is the name of the ancient Hindu sacred texts that contain certain rituals and secrets. Some deal with taking the energies brought forth in meditation through the chakras and combining them with love-making to enhance sexual experiences.
Thin Places: This term originated with Celtic spirituality (i.e., contemplative) and is in line with panentheism. Thin places imply that God is in all things, and the gap between God, evil, man, and the universe thins out and ultimately disappears in meditation.
Transformational: From the contemplative point of view, one experiences transformation from practicing the contemplative silence. This transformation is actually a change in consciousness brought on by entering altered states through meditation. Focus becomes interspiritual and universalistic.
Tribal: Used to explain that everyone is in a different tribe (religious belief system), and all tribes are legitimate; we need to embrace each other’s tribes.
True Self: Deceptively used by both the New Age and by many in the church to define your “inner divinity,” your “divine self,” which they say can be reached through meditation.
Ultimate Reality: Buddhist concept of God. Spiritual presence in all things.
Universalism: The belief that all humanity has or will ultimately have a positive connection and relationship with God. A universalist belief system, or universalism, states that every human being will be reunited with God, whether they believe in Jesus Christ or not. Universalist belief also embraces the idea that every human being has divinity or God within them.
Vintage Faith or Vintage Christianity: A spirituality that goes back to former practices, but not as far back as the apostles’ and Jesus’ teachings in the Bible. They say we need only look back to Catholicism and early century monks and mystics.
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1. http://www.brianmclaren.net/emc/archives/0310243564_samptxt.pdf, p. 17.
5. Alice Bailey, The Reappearance of the Christ, p. 150.
6. Sandy Simpson, the New Apostolic Reformation, November 2011: http://www.echozoe.com/archives/2494.
8. Caryl Matrisciana, “The Oneness Blessing—Pathway to Global Awakening”: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=201.
9. Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1991), p. 81.
10. Paul Proctor, “Social Justice Is Not Christian Charity, http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=4193.
Editor’s Note: We want to thank Lighthouse Trails authors Warren B. Smith, Ray Yungen, and Roger Oakland for their permission to use definitions on some terms from their books for the purpose of this glossary.
For more information on the “New” Christianity/New Spirituality, we encourage you to read Faith Undone, A Time of Departing, A “Wonderful” Deception, and other Lighthouse Trails books and booklets. Visit www.lighthousetrails.com.
To order copies of D is for Deception—The Language of the “New” Christianity in booklet format, click here.