FOLLOW UP NOTE 11/19/10: ON NOVEMBER 19TH, PERSONNEL FROM VOICE OF THE MARTYRS CONTACTED US BY E-MAIL AND ASKED US TO GIVE THE FOLLOWING LINK TO OUR READERS FOR THOSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO CONTACT THEM REGARDING THIS ISSUE. http://www.persecution.com/public/contact.aspx?clickfrom=bWFpbl9tZW51 This person who contacted us told us that Tom White is the one responsible for the Guyon article.
In the November 2010 Voice of the Martyrs magazine, there is a feature “Christian Martyrs” article on 17th century mystic, Madame Jeanne Guyon. Lighthouse Trails contacted Voice of the Martyrs last week to discuss their article and to remind them that they had brought some attention to themselves in 2009 when they promoted emerging futurist Erwin McManus’ book, The Barbarian Way, and Eugene Peterson’s The Message paraphrase. Lighthouse Trails did not write an article over those incidents but contacted them and offered to send them free copies of A Time of Departing and Faith Undone. We sent the two books but never heard back as to whether VOM president Tom White or other VOM officials read the books.
Needless to say, when some of their supporters contacted Lighthouse Trails last week troubled over the Guyon article, we were concerned too. Voice of the Martyrs has done a long-standing important work of defending and helping persecuted Christians throughout the world. The ministry is the inspiration of founder, the late Richard Wurmbrand who suffered persecution and imprisonment under communist rule.
The article in the VOM November magazine, titled “Madame Jeanne Guyon – June 9, 1717,” states:
Throughout her years of ministry, she continued to seek a deeper union with God, to the point that she felt God spoke and acted through her. Madame Guyon practiced a philosophy called “Quietism,” which teaches that spiritual perfection can be attained when self is lost in the contemplation of God.”
It is taught by contemplatives that if one practices the contemplative [spiritual] “disciplines,” he or she can become more Christ-like. As Richard Foster and other contemplatives teach, anyone of any religion or belief can connect with God through contemplative prayer (it has nothing to do with a relationship with Jesus Christ).
Quietism is described by one source as “a Christian philosophy that swept through France, Italy and Spain during the 17th century, but it had much earlier origins. The mystics known as Quietists insist, with more or less emphasis, on intellectual stillness and interior passivity as essential conditions of perfection. . . . Quietism has been compared to the Buddhist doctrine of Nirvana.”1
The Voice of the Martyrs article on Guyon says that Guyon was challenged by church (Catholic) authorities for her prayer beliefs. She was eventually sent to prison for seven years (no doubt the VOM writer considers her a true martyr for this). VOM continues:
In one of her short works, “A Short and Easy Method of Prayer,” Madame Guyon distinguishes between three kinds of prayer: the prayer of meditation; the prayer of simplicity, which consists of keeping oneself in a state of recollection and silence in the presence of God [LT: this is contemplative prayer]; and active contemplation, in which the soul leaves God to act and renounces all its own interests [LT: this is the altered state that contemplative prayer induces] .
As with most long-term contemplatives, Madame Guyon became panentheistic in her beliefs. She stated that: “Here [in the contemplative state] everything is God. God is everywhere and in all things” (Guyon,Willigis Jager, The Search for the Meaning of Life, 1995, p.125). The God of the Bible would not have someone say that God is in everything. This very mindset is what prompted contemplative Brennan Manning to quote Thomas Merton in his book, The Signature of Jesus:
During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: “How can we best help people to attain union with God?” His answer was very clear: “We must tell them that they are already united with God.” Contemplative prayer is nothing other than coming into consciousness of what is already there. (The Signature of Jesus, pp. 211, 218 , as cited in A Time of Departing)
As Merton and Guyon did, those practicing contemplative prayer ultimately come to believe that God is in all people and in all things. This is the “fruit” of contemplative prayer. The reason for this is that in that altered state of silence (the same as the Hinduistic Transcendental state) are demonic influences. It’s as simple as that.
Guyon embraced a prayer method in which one is to enter a state of non-thinking during prayer. Brennan Manning backs this up by saying, “[T]he first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer” (The Signature of Jesus, p. 212). Guyon explained it thus:
May I hasten to say that the kind of prayer I am speaking of is not a prayer that comes from your mind. It is a prayer that begins in the heart…. Prayer that comes out of the heart is not interrupted by thinking!—(Guyon, Experiencing The Depths of Jesus Christ, p. 4)
All that is of your doing, all that comes from your life-even your most exalted prayer-must first be destroyed before union can come about. All the prayers that proceed from your mind are merely preparations for bringing you to a passive state; any and all active contemplation on your part is also just preparation for bringing you to a passive state. They are preparations. They are not the end. They are a way to the end. The end is union with God! —(Guyon – Experiencing Union with God Through Inner Prayer)
Ask any Hindu or Buddhist or New Ager, turning off the mind is the goal in meditation so that an altered state of consciousness can be reached. As Ray Yungen puts it, it is like putting the mind in neutral, this stilling of the mind. This is not what the Bible means when it says “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 — the classic Scripture used by contemplative teachers). This instruction meant to stop worrying, settle down, and trust the Lord. There is absolutely no indication anywhere in that or any other Scripture that we are to go into a meditative state in order to hear God or to “really know Him,” as many contemplatives say.
It is a known fact that Madame Guyon is known also for her “automatic writing.” Mystic Evelyn Underhill “refers to Guyon as a ‘medium’ exhibiting clairvoyance, prophecy, telepathy, and automatic writing in bewildering profusion” (“The Mindless Mysticism,” Fisher). Underhill said:
When she [Guyon] was composing her works, she would experience a sudden and irresistible inclination to take up her pen; though feeling wholly incapable of literary composition, and not even knowing the subject on which she would be impelled to write. If she resisted the impulse, it was at the cost of the most intense discomfort. She would then begin to write with extraordinary swiftness. “In writing I saw that I was writing of things which I had never seen: and during the time of this manifestation, I was given light to perceive that I had in me treasures of knowledge and understanding which I did not know that I possessed.” (Underhill, Mysticism)
One writer explains:
As she fasted to the extreme and often went without sleep, her mystical experiences increased. She experienced what she thought was union with the essence of God. She had mental delusions or demonic visitations such as envisioning “horrible faces in blueish light.” She went into trances, which would leave her unable to speak for days. During some trances, she wrote things that she believed were inspired (Guyon, An Autobiography, p. 321-324). This is automatic writing, and she was doubtless influenced by demons. (“The Delusion of Madame Guyon,” Cloud)
We hope that Voice of the Martyrs will reconsider their apparent promotion in contemplative/emerging authors. Otherwise, they may be leading people down that slippery slope of mystical deception, and that would be truly tragic. It is sadly ironic to realize that someone like Guyon, who was imprisoned largely because of her mystical activities and writings, would be put in the same category as true martyrs who have defended the biblical faith, and this being the cause of their affliction and martyrdom. Thus we have written this article with the past and present Christian martyrs in mind, hoping to help maintain the dignity and integrity which they so deserve.
Below are a couple letters we have received over the past year or so from Voice of the Martyrs supporters. We hope that VOM will read these and see that it isn’t just Lighthouse Trails saying this; others are concerned too.
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
I have been a supporter of Voice of the Martyrs but recently was distressed to open my monthly newsletter and find Tom White supporting the book “The Barbarian Way.” [by Erwin McManus] The tone of his letter that month was disturbing, seeming to be mocking those who are looking forward to heaven, a common attitude today.
Dear Lighthouse Trails:
First of all I want to thank you for all the work you do. My reason for writing is my concern for Voice of the Martyrs magazine. I have enjoyed getting it in the mail for several years but in the February 2009 issue on page 2 there is an article by Tom White where he quotes Erwin McManus from his book The Barbarian Way. ( page 108-109) This greatly concerns me. I wondered if you would want to warn Mr. White about Mr. McManus. The email for the magazine is firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
The following is a letter written to VOM President Tom White, which was sent to us by the person who wrote it (who gave us permission to post it):
To Dr. Tom White :
As regular supporters of Voice of the Martyrs and Bibles Unbound, we were very shocked and disappointed to see in the front of the sample “Extreme Devotion” booklet we recently received in the mail from VOM, that on the copyright page, it states: “Scripture taken from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson…”.
It is our sincere prayer that Tom White and all of the staff at VOM will educate themselves immediately on the dangers of this so-called “translation” by Eugene Peterson.
“The Message” is a contemplative, mystical distortion of God’s Holy Word. On the surface it simply appears to be written in “lingo” that is easier to understand for today’s average American – however, dig deeper and you will realize that it “adds to and takes away” from God’s Holy Scriptures, which we are warned, specifically at the end of Revelation, not to do….
[W]e would like the assurance of VOM/persecution.com that the foreign language Bibles we are sending out [through Bibles Unbound] are NOT translations/interpretations of “The Message”/Eugene Peterson’s so-called “translation.”