One Saturday afternoon a number of years ago, at a Portland, Oregon Christian bookstore, contemporary Christian music and cross-over pop-rock singer Amy Grant was scheduled to show up to meet customers at the store. Ray Yungen, author of A Time of Departing, learned about Amy’s visit to the Portland bookstore and wanted to hand deliver to her a copy of his book. After all, he mentioned her in the book, and he wanted her to read the book so she could be warned about the contemplative mystical prayer that had infiltrated evangelical Christianity.
What Ray Yungen said about Amy Grant in his book was that she was one of several popular figures (along with Max Lucado and Michael Card) who admired contemplative mystic Brennan Manning. Amy wrote the foreword to Manning’s 2001 book, The Boy Who Cried Abba.
RayYungen, knowing that countless Christians listened to Amy Grant’s music, thought if she would just read A Time of Departing with an open mind, she would see why Manning’s contemplative spirituality was not biblical and did in fact lead practitioners awayfrom biblical Christianity and toward a panentheistic, universalist belief system. She would also be able to read about the difference between the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a “new” spirituality “Gospel” permeating much of today’s Christianity.
When Ray arrived at the bookstore that afternoon, he could tell he wasn’t going to be able to just walk up to Amy Grant and hand her his book – she was surrounded by scores of people. Then he prayed, “Lord, please just give me the opportunity to get this book into her hands.” A moment later, much to his surprise, a small path cleared, and he could see Amy clearly. Realizing it was now or never, Ray moved carefully through the opening in the crowd until he was standing arms length from Amy Grant. He held out the book and said, “Hello Amy. My name is Ray Yungen. I’ve written a book, and I mention you in it. I thought you would like to have a copy to read.” As Amy took the book and looked at its cover, she thanked Ray. Then just as quickly as the path had formed, the crowd pressed in and Ray moved back. His few seconds with Amy Grant ended. Before leaving the store, he took one last look in her direction. “Lord please move in her heart to read the book, and please open her eyes.”
Did Amy Grant read A Time of Departing? We never learned whether she did or not. But if she did, there’s no outward evidence that she changed her views. On the contrary, last year she wrote the foreword for Manning’s book, Patched Together. The endorsements inside that book include many contemplative advocates including Max Lucado, Michael Card, Eugene Peterson, Larry Crabb, and panentheist Richard Rohr. And in a Tulsa Oklahoma news article this week, talking about her tour with Michael W. Smith this year, Amy is quoted as saying: “I’d never done yoga before, and a 95-year-old lady there, Rose, was really challenging me. It was great. . . .”
If Amy Grant had indeed read A Time of Departing, she would have read this about Yoga:
Western mysticism, due to its common practices with the East, produces a passage into the understanding of Eastern spiritual concepts. Thus, if you practice Western yoga or pray the mantra, you go into the same trance as the East; if you open yourself, through this trance, to the Western spirit world, you end up in the same demonic realm or with gods of the East; then, if you open yourself to the demonic realm, you enter into the same realm of consciousness as the East where all is One and everyone and everything is seen as God—hence panentheism; finally, if you embrace panentheism, the Gospel loses its significance, and each individual feels persuaded to find his or her own way to God. (ATOD, page 86, 2nd ed)
And she would have read this:
[O]ccultism is awakening the mystical faculties to see God in everything. In Hinduism, this is called reaching samadhi or enlightenment. It is the final objective of yoga meditation: God in everything—a force or power flowing through all that exists. (ATOD, page 28, 2nd ed)
She also would have read this about Brennan Manning:
In The Signature of Jesus, Manning teaches how to suspend thought. He instructs his readers methodically:
“[T]he first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer.”
“[C]ontemplative spirituality tends to emphasize the need for a change in consciousness . . . we must come to see reality differently.”
“Choose a single, sacred word . . . repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, and often.”
“[E]nter into the great silence of God. Alone in that silence, the noise within will subside and the Voice of Love will be heard.”
If one could draw a spiritual tree of both Manning’s and Foster’s mystical heritage it would look like this: from India—to Alexandria— to the Desert Fathers—to Thomas Merton—to them; and now, through them and others like them—to you. (ATOD, pp. 88-89)
By pointing her admirers to Yoga and to Brennan Manning, Amy Grant may have forgotten the lyrics to one of her first songs, “Thy Word” ( based on Psalm 119: 105), where she sang: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” The spirituality that Yoga and contemplative prayer offers is an antithesis of God’s Word and does not illumine one’s path but rather darkens it with spiritual blindness.
Perhaps some day, Amy Grant will remember the “chance” encounter with Ray Yungen and take heed to his words of warning.