Posts Tagged ‘evangelicalism’

How the New Age Has “Creeped” Into the Church

by Ray Yungen

If you have ever wondered why New Age authors and their teachings are creeping past many Christians, then maybe the definition of creeping might help. The term means: slowly advancing at a speed that is not really apparent until you look back over a long time period. For instance, creeping inflation is not noticed in the short term, but when one looks back over twenty to thirty years, it is shocking. A meal that cost two dollars in 1970 now may cost eight dollars—however, the increase moved so slowly that the impact was diminished.

This same kind of movement has happened within our society and has gradually become mainstream. What was once seen as flaky is normal today—even useful. This trend is impacting evangelical Christianity at only a slightly lesser degree than secular society. The reason for the slight variance is that many, perhaps most, Christians have not yet grasped, or come to terms with, the practical mystic approach that New Age proponents have already incorporated into the secular world, as well as Christendom.

A mystical pragmatism is growing particularly fast through various New Age healing techniques. One such procedure is called Reiki (pronounced ray-key), a Japanese word that translates to Universal Life Energy or God energy. It has also been referred to as the radiance technique. Reiki is an ancient Tibetan Buddhist healing system, rediscovered by a Japanese man in the 1800s, that only recently has come to the West.

The Reiki technique consists of placing the hands on the recipient and then activating the energy to flow through the practitioner and into the recipient. One practitioner describes the experience in the following way:

When doing it, I become a channel through which this force, this juice of the universe, comes pouring from my palms into the body of the person I am touching, sometimes lightly, almost imperceptibly, sometimes in famished sucking drafts. I get it even as I’m giving it. It surrounds the two of us, patient and practitioner.1

Woman receiving Reiki treatment

Woman receiving Reiki treatment

What is this “juice of the universe?” The answer is an important one, given by a renowned Reiki master who explains:

A Reiki attunement is an initiation into a sacred metaphysical order that has been present on earth for thousands of years . . . By becoming part of this group, you will also be receiving help from the Reiki guides and other spiritual beings who are also working toward these goals.2

While this is not widely advertised, Reiki practitioners depend on this “spirit guide” connection as an integral aspect of Reiki. In fact, it is the very foundation and energy behind Reiki. One Reiki master who has enrolled hundreds of other masters spoke of her interaction with the spirit guides:

For  me, the Reiki guides make themselves the most felt while attunements are being passed. They stand behind me and direct the whole process, and I assume they also do this for every Reiki Master. When I pass attunements, I feel their presence strongly and constantly. Sometimes I can see them.3

A Christian’s initial response to this information might be, “So what? I don’t travel in those circles, so it does not concern me.” This nonchalant viewpoint would be valid except for the fact that Reiki is currently growing to enormous proportions and in some very influential circles. (It may even be in your local hospitals, schools, and youth organizations.) It is essential to know that many nurses, counselors, and especially massage therapists use Reiki as a supplement to their work. It is often promoted as a complementary service.

Even more significant are the numbers involved in this practice. Examine the following figures to catch just a glimpse of the growing popularity of Reiki. In 1998, there were approximately 33,000 Reiki listings on the Internet. Today that number, on some search engines, constitutes over 22,000,000 listings. In just ten years, that number has increased almost 700 fold! As I said in the first chapter of this book, there are now over one million Reiki practitioners in the U.S. One Reiki master delightfully noted this surge of interest when he stated:

Over the years, there has been a shift in the belief system of the general public, allowing for greater acceptance of alternative medicine. As a result, we are seeing a growing interest in Reiki from the public at large. People from all backgrounds are coming for treatments and taking classes.4

One very revealing statistic involves Louisville, Kentucky, where 102 people were initiated into Reiki in just a single weekend.5 This denotes a large number of people are drawn to Reiki in the Bible belt, traditionally a conservative part of America.

It is important to understand the way in which Reiki is presented to the public at large. Despite its underlying metaphysical foundation, when one reads the literature put out by Reiki practitioners it is not at all apparent. One Reiki master who runs a day spa repeatedly uses words like comfort and nurture in her brochure. Reiki is something that will give you pleasure. Another woman who is a professional counselor tells her potential clients that Reiki will give them deep relaxation and reduce pain. Again and again these same themes emerge from promotional literature on Reiki—relaxation, well-being, reduce illness, reduce stress, balance your mind, etc.  How can one say that Reiki is bad when it claims to help people?

The reason for this level of acceptance is easy to understand. Most people, many Christians included, believe if something is spiritually positive then it is of God. A pastor friend of mine recounted a situation in which a Christian, who had some physical problems, turned to Reiki for comfort. When this pastor advised the man that Reiki fundamentally opposed the Christian faith he became furious and responded with the following defense, “How can you say this is bad when it helped me?” That is why I titled a chapter in my book “Discernment.” To discern is to “try the spirits” (1 John 4:1). If something is of God it will conform to the very cornerstone of God’s plan to show His grace through Christ Jesus and Him alone (Ephesians 2:7). Reiki, as I defined earlier, is based on the occult view of God.

This assessment of Reiki is beyond question. Every Reiki book I have ever seen is chock full of pronouncements that back up the point I am trying to make. In The Everything Reiki Book, the following clears up any doubt about Reiki’s incompatibility with Christianity:

During the Reiki attunement process, the avenue that is opened within the body to allow Reiki to flow through also opens up the psychic communication centers.  This is why many Reiki practitioners report having verbalized channeled communications with the spirit world.6

What is even more disturbing is that the Reiki channeler may not even have control over this “energy” as the following comment shows:

Nurses and massage therapists who have been attuned to Reiki may never disclose when Reiki starts flowing from their palms as they handle their patients. Reiki will naturally “kick in” when it is needed and will continue to flow for as long as the recipient is subconsciously open to receiving it.7

Another such method is Therapeutic Touch. Like Reiki, it is based on the occultic chakra system, portrayed as the seven energy centers in the body aligned with spiritual forces. The seventh chakra identifies with the God-in-all view. Therapeutic Touch is widely practiced by nurses in clinics and hospitals. It is seen as a helpful and healing adjunct to nursing care.

If the connection between Reiki healing and other metaphysical practices can be seen, then we more fully understand why the following quote is one of the most powerful statements as to the true nature of contemplative prayer. A Reiki master in the course of promoting the acceptance of this method relayed:

Anyone familiar with the work of . . . or the thought of . . . [she then listed a string of notable New Age writers with Thomas Merton right in the center of them] will find compatibility and resonance with the theory and practices of Reiki.8

Reiki comes from Buddhism, and as one Merton scholar wrote, “The God he [Merton] knew in prayer was the same experience that Buddhists describe in their enlightenment.”9

This is why it is so important to understand the connection between the writings of Richard Foster and Brennan Manning with Merton. Promotion indicates attachment, and attachment indicates common ground. Something is terribly wrong when a Reiki master and two of the most influential figures in the evangelical church today both point to the same man as an example of their spiritual path.  (To read more about Reiki and energy healing, read “The Truth About Energy Healing” by Ray Yungen.)

Notes:

1. “Healing Hands”  (New Woman Magazine, March, 1986), p. 78.
2. William Rand, Reiki: The Healing Touch  (Southfield, MI: Vision Pub.,1991), p. 48.
3. Diane Stein, Essential Reiki (Berkley, CA: Crossing Press, 1995), p. 107.
4. William Lee Rand, “Reiki, A New Direction” (Reiki News, Spring 1998, http://www.reiki.org/reikinews/reikinewdir.html,, p. 4.
5. Reiki News, Winter, 1998, p. 5.
6. Phylameana lila Desy, The Everything Reiki Book (Avon, MA: Adams Media, 2004), p. 144.
7. Ibid., p. 270.
8. Janeanne Narrin, One Degree Beyond: A Reiki Journey into Energy Medicine (Seattle, WA: Little White Buffalo, 1998), p.xviii.
9. Brian C. Taylor, Setting the Gospel Free (New York, NY: Continuum Publishing , 1996), p. 76.

Evangelicals are making [Catholic contemplative] liturgical traditions their own

LTRP Note: We are re-posting this 2011 article because this is even more of an issue than it was in 2011. Posted for informational and research purposes.

By KATE SHELLNUTT
HOUSTON CHRONICLE

Certain Holy Week observances long affiliated with more liturgical traditions are being re-purposed and incorporated into evangelical congregations, home to increasing numbers of former Catholics and mainline Protestants.

Leading up to the children’s egg hunts and contemporary worship services this Easter, it was not unlikely to see Lenten reflections, Maundy Thursday meals or even Stations of the Cross at a Baptist church.

Carlos Ichter never observed Lent or Holy Week in the Baptist congregation where he grew up, but Tallowood Baptist Church — where Ichter serves as a worship minister — has commemorated the Last Supper and the crucifixion in the days leading up to Easter for more than a decade.

“I’ve been asked a few times, ‘What is this Maundy Thursday?’ It is a foreign idea for some, but once you explain it to them, they see it’s scriptural and it makes sense,” he said. “There are a lot of good things that Roman Catholics do that I think everybody should be open to. … It’s not a Catholic thing or a Baptist thing, it’s a biblical thing.” (Click here to continue reading.)

Circling the Wagons

Pan Evangelicals Still Wield the Broken Sword of Political/Cultural Evangelism

An editorial by Orrel Steinkamp

The evangelical political games are essentially over. All that is left is to create an evangelical political party. The GOP will sooner, rather than later, nominate a presidential candidate advocating same sex marriage. The past election cycle demonstrated the culture is too far gone to be saved by the ballot box and raw political and legislative power.

Actually the Gospel was never intended to be a political/cultural product. Nevertheless, seeker-sensitive evangelism gave it the ole college try. All that remains is what Shakespeare called “wind and fury signifying nothing.”

Pragmatic Christianity tried desperately to accommodate to postmodern culture but it has peaked and is now flirting with medieval Catholic monastic mysticism.

Only a handful of attractional megachurches with multiple campus satellites draw lots of media attention. They have staked their hope on getting too big to fail, and then getting even bigger. Their motto is “grow or die.” Click here to continue reading.

The New Age Christian—An Accepted Oxymoron

by Ray Yungen

The current popularity with meditative mysticism presents a very new and perplexing challenge for evangelical Christianity. We are beginning to encounter the New Age or Aquarian Christian. This new term describes someone who remains in his or her home church and professes the Christian faith but has also incorporated various aspects of the New Age or Aquarian mindset into his or her life. New Age author David Spangler was very optimistic about the possibility of this integration when he wrote, “The point is that the New Age is here … it builds itself and forms itself in the midst of the old.”1

What has fueled the momentum of this trend is the buffet-style dining approach that has become a hallmark of American religious sensibilities in the last twenty years—you take what you want and leave the rest. Americans are picking and blending religions as if they were ordering espressos: pick your espresso blend, but you still get coffee—pick your spiritual path, but you still get God. Whatever suits your spiritual tastes, you bring together. The result is hybrid New Age spirituality.

I recall a conversation once with a woman in a coffee bar. We chatted on spiritual subjects, and her comments led me to believe she was an evangelical Christian. Towards the end of our friendly conversation she dropped a bombshell on me when she blurted-out, “Well, we all have the Christ consciousness!”

In another incident, a local pastor shared with me how a woman he had long known as a strong solid Christian was almost swept up by New Age thinking. Her young adult son had been addicted to drugs and went through a drug rehabilitation program. In the process, his counselor introduced him to New Age spirituality.  He, in turn, shared it with his mother, giving her a book to read titled Conversations With God (a New Age bestseller).

Incredibly, she found herself being swayed by the book’s arguments and began to doubt whether or not her evangelical Christianity was indeed the only way to God. Her desire to see her son aligned with God left her mind open in welcoming the possibility that various mystical paths were equally genuine in finding God.  It took this pastor nearly two hours to help this woman understand the error of her thinking. Keep in mind this woman was a solid and devoted Christian who had been living her Christian faith for decades. If these Christians can be swayed, what about people who are even more vulnerable to what is going on in the larger culture?

The New Age message has such a positive ring that it is necessary to look behind the appealing facade to see what is actually there. If one goes to a massage therapist who does Reiki one should know the true nature of that practice. If your doctor wants you to meditate, you should know the spiritual dangers of non-biblical meditation. As the world moves further into becoming a full-fledged mystical society, it will become increasingly difficult to escape the ideas and practices described in this chapter. Christians must become aware of what is happening in order to make informed choices about things that may adversely affect them spiritually. In addition, many of our friends, family members, and co-workers will be seeking spiritual solutions to the uncertainties of our society and the world in which we live as a whole. The following account brings this point home like no other. A Christian in Georgia emailed me with the following story:

At work a colleague who is a deacon at the local Baptist church was telling me about his visits to a local woman for “Therapeutic Massage.” He said she used “some kind of Indian technique.” I asked him if it was Reiki and he said “Yeah that’s it. She’s a Reiki practitioner.” I told him what I had read in your book about Reiki and he got defensive.  He said, “I don’t care what it is as long as it works.” I was floored. I said, “You are a deacon. How can you make such a statement?” He said, “There are several deacons at my church that believe in Reiki.” I pleaded with him to do some research on the subject and I sent him an email with quotes off some sites that promote Reiki. Later he told me he could see where I was coming from but that as long as he didn’t believe in the spiritual aspect of it, he didn’t see why he shouldn’t participate in it. I was surprised that there was a Reiki practitioner in the middle of rural Bible Belt America. I guess nothing should shock me anymore.2

One book on the Chakra* system clearly shows:

Many people who have open crown chakras have had a profound spiritual experience in which their usual sense of being separate and apart falls away and there is a feeling of being at One with All and Everything.  There is a profound sense of merging.… There is, in essence, a feeling that All of This Is God, and I Am a part of all of this so I, too, Am God.3

This concept of course, has its source in the spirit world. The  “Reiki News” provides this evidence:

Imagine my surprise during my first Reiki class when I observed the astral images of guides and healing spirits pouring forth bright shimmering rays of healing energy at the hands of novice practitioners. 4

Interest in Reiki and other mystical practices are accelerating to such a degree that most people will come face to face with this sooner or later. One popular counselor made the following assessment regarding the growing momentum of New Age practical mysticism:

We cannot overstate how profoundly their impact is being felt in education, business, medicine, and psychotherapy. It is safe to say that the prevailing religion in America … is no longer Christianity but is instead New Age.5

It would not surprise me if the majority of people in America have a family member or close friend who does mantra meditation, practices yoga, has either encountered Reiki or Therapeutic Touch, or is an avid fan of the Oprah Winfrey show. How could anyone possibly conceive that any of these seemingly benign or even helpful methods or talkshows might have a connection to Satan or that which is against God? A brother in Christ whom I met for coffee one day gave me the answer to that question: He referred to the Scripture in which Eve took of the fruit, and while it had the appearance of something good, the results of her partaking were detrimental.

So when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. (Genesis 3:6)

Secondly, and just as important, what actually constitutes that which is satanic? Virtually everyone in Christendom equates that term, satanic, with things dark and sinister. However, the Bible paints a far different picture of Satan—one that fits the New Age movement perfectly. Satan said, “I will be like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:14). He did not say he would be the Most High; he said he would be like the Most High. The word “like” here means to correspond to. How could Satan accomplish this mission?

It is important to understand that Satan is not simply trying to draw people to the dark side of a good versus evil conflict. Actually, he is trying to eradicate the gap between himself and God, between good and evil, altogether. When we understand this approach it helps us see why Thomas Merton said everyone is already united with God or why Jack Canfield said he felt God flowing through all things. All means all—nothing left out. Such reasoning implies that God has given His glory to all of creation; since Satan is part of creation, then he too shares in this glory, and thus is “like the Most High.”

Contrary to this belief of good and evil merging and man or creation becoming “like the Most High,” man and God can only be brought together through the Cross. If the all-is-one view were true, then salvation through a Redeemer would become unnecessary and Jesus’ death on the Cross would be rendered altogether futile and pointless. In order for the Cross to make any sense, there must be a separation between God’s perfect nature and Man’s sin nature. We know Satan has only one enemy—the Cross; he knows that without it no human being can be restored to God.

The Bible says the message of the Cross is the power of God, and while there are two opposing spiritual realms, God has always and will always, prevail. Satan can never thwart God’s ultimate plan. And yet, today’s Western society is enticed by practical mystics who deny, by their own proclamations, God’s plan of eternal salvation. Will the majority of mankind come to believe that all is one and there is no line to be drawn in the sand regarding good and evil? The Bible admonishes, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil.” (Isaiah 5:20)

Yet, such a plan now exists and will shape future events—events that will alter the course on which millions will advance.

(from A Time of Departing, from chapter 5, “Discernment”)

Notes:
1. David Spangler, “The New Age is Here”  (New Thought  magazine,   Spring 1989), p. 6.
2. A personal email sent to Ray Yungen in 2005.
3.  Joy Gardner-Gordon, Pocket Guide to the Chakras (Berkley, CA:   Crossing Press, 1998), p. 31.
4. Glenn Derrick, “Reiki and Chi Kung” (Reiki News, Winter   1994, http://www.reiki.org//reikinews/reikin19.html, accessed   12/2005), p. 12.
5.  Neil T. Anderson, Terry E. Zuehlke, Julianne S. Zuehlke, Christ Centered Therapy: The Practical Integration of Theology and  Psychology  (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2000), p. 61.

The Shack Author Says: “The God of Evangelical Christianity is a Monster.”

On Friday night, author and researcher Ray Yungen attended a lecture at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon to hear The Shack author William Paul Young. The name of Young’s talk was “Can God Really Be That Good?” During the talk, Young told the audience that “the God of evangelical Christianity is a monster.” He was referring to the belief that God is a God of judgment and will judge the unbelieving. Young also rejects the biblical view of atonement (wherein Jesus died as a substitute for us to pay the price of our sins). This view by Young is evident in a radio interview he had one year ago where he rejected the biblical view of the atonement. He echoes the sentiments of William Shannon and Brennan Manning, who both say that the God who punishes His own son to pay for the sins of others does not exist:

He is the God who exacts the last drop of blood from His Son, so that His just anger, evoked by sin, may be appeased. This God whose moods alternate between graciousness and fierce anger — a God who is still all too familiar to many Christians — is a caricature of the true God. This God does not exist. (Shannon, Silence on Fire, p. 110, also see Manning who stated the very same thing in Above All, pp. 58-59 )

Young told the audience that his book has now sold 14 million copies. He says that he believes his book has been a “god thing” to heal people’s souls because so many people have been tainted by this evangelical God.

Young said his book is so effective because when you put something in a story form it gets past mental defenses.

Young’s obvious distain for evangelical Christianity (in a derogatory manner, he said there are “1.4 million” rules in the evangelical church) is shown in his book as well when The Shack’s “Jesus” states: “I have no desire to make them [people from all religious and political backgrounds] Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa” (p. 184).

Young asked “evangelicals,” “Do you want to hold onto your darkness?” and answered for them, “No, you want to get rid of it.”

Related Information:

The Quantum Christ: Entering the World AND the Church Through Popular New Age & Christian Leaders

Fractals, Chaos Theory, Quantum Spirituality, and The Shack

Balaam, On Being Paid to Curse Israel

by Bill Randles
Believers in Grace Fellowship

I will bless those that bless you and curse those who curse you and in you all the families of the world will be blessed.  Genesis 12:3

Come now therefore, I pray thee, curse me this people; for they are too mighty for me, peradventure I shall prevail, that we may smite them, and that I may drive them out of the land; for I know that he whom thou (Balaam) bless is blest and he whom you curse is cursed. Numbers 22:6

Perhaps the most misunderstood story in the Bible is that of Balaam, the pagan prophet. When it is told, it is usually related as a morality story, merely a caution against greed in ministry.  The love of money indeed is part of the story – as well as the danger of false prophets and corrupt ministers. But lately I have come to realize that there is an eschatological dimension to this story that too often is unappreciated. It is amazing how current and relevant the story of Balaam really is to today’s geo-political situation.

The story takes place at the end of the Exodus; at the time the children of Israel were preparing to possess the land God had given them. Once again the immediate neighbors of Israel take exception to their rights to the land. The ancestors of the modern Arabs, Jordanians and ‘Palestinians’ feared the Israeli occupation of the land, having full knowledge of what God had done to Egypt and through them to Og, one of their chief Kings.

And Balak the son of Zippor saw all that Israel had done to the Amorites. And Moab was sore afraid of the people, because they were many: and Moab was distressed because of the children of Israel.  Numbers 22:2-3

Balak, the king of the Moabites, as it turned out, had nothing to fear from the Israelites, not knowing that God had commanded them not to dispossess the Moabites.

And the LORD said to me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give you of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar to the children of Lot for a possession. Deuteronomy 2:9

This scenario is a current event, for there is nothing the modern state of Israel would welcome more than to live in peace with her hostile neighbors.

Balak, fearing Israel, and knowing he couldn’t prevail militarily with them, set out to hire someone who could “curse” Israel. The word “curse” in this sense is a Hebrew word which means to “hollow” them out, to “drain” them of their confidence.

Is this not the modern situation also? Arab neighbors of Israel, frustrated by their inability to dispossess Israel out of the land, have been using their newly gained petro-wealth, and the power that goes with it, to literally hire people to curse Israel! They have been able to successfully deny the very legitimacy of Israel in the minds of many.  Oil money has successfully lobbied political leaders, educators, the media and a good many of those who are in position to shape the ideas and perspectives of the rest of us, to take a belligerent stance against Israel.

Billions of petro dollars have poured into the coffers of institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Georgetown University, and Fox News, as well as into the campaign chests of numerous western politicians, all in the interest of selling us the story line which delegitimizes Israel, and romanticizes Islam’s version of history. There are many Balaam’s!

Perhaps the last straw is the seduction of leaders of the confessing Christian church into “cursing Israel”.  No less than the Pope himself leads the charge in delegitimizing Israel’s claims to the Holy Land, as here recounted in a Jerusalem Newswire story dated May 17, 2009 entitled,

“Pope to ‘Palestinians’, Israel is Your Forefather’s Land”

“The Biblical land of Israel is actually the “land of YOUR forefathers” Pope Benedict told the Palestinian Arabs in Bethlehem last week. With this statement the pontiff, who has now departed Israel after five days of meddling in the country’s affairs on a “pilgrimage” he called “a mission of peace,” authenticity on the massive deception that is “Palestinian nationhood”.

At the start, in the middle, and at the end of his visit – which was hosted by the State of Israel at no small expense to the taxpayers and mass disruption of Jerusalemites’ lives – the head of the Roman Catholic Church voiced his strong support for the creation of a Palestinian state on Jewish lands.

His first and last statements to this effect were made unabashedly in front of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who has been trying to sidestep international demands that he surrender Israel’s biblical heartland to the Arabs.

Speaking at PLO Chief and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ palace in Bethlehem, where he went to conduct a large mass, the pontiff spelled it out:

“The Holy See supports the right of your people to a sovereign Palestinian homeland in the land of your forefathers, secure and at peace with its neighbors, within internationally recognized borders,”

The World Council of Churches, the United States Presbyterian Church, and a host of other church groups too numerous to mention have condemned Israel, divested themselves from Israel, in short have “cursed” Israel, in the sense of hollowing out their confidence, sense of legitimacy and validity as a nation. Balaam lives!

The reward has not always been money, however, as was the case with Balaam. These church groups siding with terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah, against the only legitimate democracy in the Middle East, imagine that they are “speaking truth to power”, as they “curse Israel”. The image of themselves as guardians of the human rights of the Palestinians is reward enough for these false Christian groups.

Perhaps the most tragic of all is the erosion of the rock solid support which evangelicals have had for Israel.  In the American Thinker article “Splitting the Evangelicals from Israel”, Ed Lasky cites Replacement Theology, the testimony of certain Palestinian Christian leaders, and former US President Jimmy Carter as part of the influence turning many once pro-Israel Christians against Israel. This is a portent that doesn’t bode well, even as the story of Balaam doesn’t end well for anybody but God’s chosen people. Part 2, Part 3 http://www.americanthinker.com/2007/01/splitting_the_evangelicals_fro.html


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