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Counterfeit Spirituality Pt.5

Pt.5: The Sanctifying of Mysticism

April 2010

 

A key tactic of the enemy in making Christianity suitable for global citizenship is the practicing of mysticism in the believer's life. Mysticism, long observed in many of the world's religions, has now made serious inroads into the church under the headings of “contemplative prayer” or “contemplative spirituality.” Cloaked in Christian terms and falsely supported by twisted scriptures, mysticism deceives many a well-intentioned Christian into its practices, who don't realize the dangerous spiritual doors they are opening. Enticed by the postmodern virtues of tolerance and pluralism, Emergents feel free to embrace the spiritual rituals (luring unsuspecting Christians to do the same) featured in humanistic and secular systems. The “unity in diversity” that effectively processes small groups into tolerance plays out on a world scale when mysticism processes diverse faith traditions into unity with one another as well.

Pluralism (esteeming diverse belief systems) promotes bridge building with other world faith traditions. Notice how Clark Pinnock (avid supporter of The Alpha Course) values the religions of other cultures in his book, Set Forth Your Case;

“When we approach the man of faith other than our own…(somebody in another religion)…it will be in a spirit of expectancy to find out how God has been speaking to him and what new understanding of the grace and love of God we may ourselves discover in this encounter. Our first task in approaching another people, another culture, another religion, is to take off our shoes. The place we are approaching is holy. Or else we find ourselves treading on men’s dreams. More, we may forget that God was here before our arrival.”1

While Clark Pinnock is not emergent per se, his quote sums up the pluralistic mindset (embraced by Alpha) well. This attitude assumes that God finds paganism acceptable and even useful for the church. Placing value in worldly cultures and unsaved religions, rather than addressing their need for salvation, has fueled the ecumenical attitude pervading the church today.


Labeling It Christian

Emergents consider nearly everything permissible if re-contextualized as "Christian." Some have regard for liturgical worship, icons, chants and clerical robes. Others are returning to candles, altars, incense, prayer beads, statues, the worship of Mary and the Eucharistic Christ. Worship is highly expressive and can be neo charismatic allowing for tongues, healings and visions. They have syncretized with paganism in promoting yoga, labyrinth walks, prayer stations, breath prayers, Lectio Divina, silence, Ignatian Examen, centering prayer, and mantra meditation.

"…...labyrinths, icons, incense, chanting, candles, centering and contemplative prayer... Without contemplative spirituality, the emerging church would be nothing more than couches and candles." 2

Mystical contemplative exercises, so popular among the Emergents, are found in various world religions…..

"Eastern Pagan religions such Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufi Muslims, have long practiced mystical meditation. A variety of occult and New Age devotees also practice mystical meditation styles consistent with Contemplative Prayer."3

Leonard Sweet, revered spokesmen of the Emergent movement, says mystical contemplation is necessary for the future of the church;

Mysticism, once cast to the sidelines of the Christian tradition, is now situated in postmodernist culture near the center…. In the words of one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, Jesuit philosopher of religion/dogmatist Karl Rahner, "The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something, or he will be nothing." [Mysticism] is metaphysics arrived at through mind/body experiences. Mysticism begins in experience; it ends in theology. 4

 

Sweet cites a Catholic Jesuit to claim theology is derived from the senses rather than scripture. No longer are the basic truths of the Bible necessary for coming to faith and knowing the Lord; an experience will suffice. Mysticism marginalizes the gospel and doctrinal truths making them irrelevant and unnecessary since God is accessed through the experience and ritualized prayer. If the pagans use these rituals to connect with their deities, then the Christian who practices them is not fellowshipping with the true God, but with deceiving spirits. Approaching God through false worship is expressly forbidden throughout the Bible. (Deu 6:14, 7:4, 11:16, 13:1-8; 1 Jn 4:1, 5:21).

These emotional impressions set the Word of Truth aside, allowing an alternative spirituality and unity to develop with those who practice the same methods.    

What would happen if we allowed people to “feel” what we cannot explain, to know with the heart and not with the brain? We would open the door of faith to a wider audience than if we continued to insist on a rational belief in the facts as the only legitimate starting point of the Christian faith."5

The lie of mystical contemplative Christianity is while communion with "God" is promised, practitioners are actually drawn into idolatrous practices which justifiably provoke the anger of the Biblical God, who requires us to be "holy" and "set apart" from tricking counterfeits. Devotees of worldly mysticism are gripped tightly by these supernatural experiences, which give the convincing feeling of being real, but in actuality are not connections with the real God of the Bible but with false entities referred to in scripture as demons. "Christian" change agents promoting these practices usher the church into the same spiritual bondage as the false belief systems they are borrowing from. Deceivers promise freedom, while making practitioners slaves of corruption (2 Peter 1:3 ). The obsession of contemplative spirituality is thinking it is the necessary component for walking with Christ rather than abiding in Him through faith.

The aim of this spirituality is "communing" with God as one imagines Him to be. This can be the so-called god "within" for the New Ager, the God of the Bible for the Christian, or the god that is in everything for the Hindu. Therefore contemplative prayer can unite the world through an altered state of consciousness in a superficial "peace" so that all faiths can harmonize together into one universal brotherhood of man.

 


Conclusion

Unity and friendship with the world actually disguise unbelief and are dangerous distractions from the Lord and His truth. Contemplative prayer techniques turn the believer toward the same desired esoteric enlightenment, which was the deception of the serpent, as was promised Adam and Eve. Satan planted the lie that they were somehow incomplete without partaking of hidden knowledge that would make them like God.

Jesus tells us that from the moment of rebirth, we are complete in Him. We are new creations in Christ (2 Cor 5:17), He has given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Pet 1:3), the Trinity dwells in the believer (Jn 14:16; Jn 17; 2 Jn 1:9) and nothing will separate us from the love of Christ Jesus (Rom 8:39). Believers need to test the spirits (1 John 4:1) to see if these so called "apostles of Christ" speak according to the Word (Isa 8:20) and need to turn aside from godless myths (1 Tim 4:7), avoid the philosophies of men (Col 2:8), mark those who introduce heresies contrary to truth (Rom 16:17), and have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds of darkness (Eph 5:11). Those who lead us away from purity and devotion to the Word are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them (1 Jn 4:5). Let us uphold the truth of the Word and walk by its light in faith, hope and love, trusting that the Lord has given us all that we need to be complete in Him (Col 2:10).

 

END OF SERIES


Further Reading:
The New Evangelical Left

 

References :

, Craig Press, Nutley, NJ, 1968.  Source Cited: The Christian Arsenal, http://www.christianarsenal.com/Articles/WhoIsReallyAChristian.pdf

[2] Author unknown, Source Cited; Lighthouse Trails website;

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/emergingchurch.htm.  Brackets mine.

, May 2, 2006, http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/006/contemplative-narloch.htm 

[4] Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, (Dayton, OH: Whaleprints, 1991), Acknowledgments, viii-ix.  Source Cited; Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, (Lighthouse Trails Publishing: Silverton, OR, 2002) pg 160.

, Waterbrook Press, 2001, page 106. Cited Source: http://understandthetimes.org/commentary/c46.shtml#_ftn1

 

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