Tuesday, December 20, 2011

New Age Mysticism

I feel an incredible need to write about the infusion of the spiritual formation movement that is sweeping through our churches today like a blazing forest fire. Christian yoga, spiritual disciplines, contemplative prayer, labyrinths, are all the rage in many of our evangelical bible churches.

I've been a christian for over three decades, and have experienced many different churches and have seen movements come and go. A fascinating study is to look at church history and see all the different movements that have taken place, and to take note, that they were all reactions to "something" that was perceived as askew in the church.

Take the pietism movement during the late seventeenth-century, this movement combined the Lutheranism of the time with the Reformed emphasis on individual piety and living a vigorous Christian life. Lutherans were more interested  in the working of the Spirit and a personal faith than the institutional type faith of the church at that time. If you want to spend some time looking at this movement here is a good source: http://www.deusvitae.com/faith/denominations/pietism.html

From my research it seems that movements tend to "overreact" and the pendulum swings way to far to the left or right.Take the Fundamentalist movement that was a movement that began in the late 19th- and early 20th-century within American Protestant circles to defend the "fundamentals of belief" against the corrosive effects of liberalism that had grown within the ranks of Protestantism itself.

One of the charges against the fundamental movement was that they separated themselves and tended to withdraw from the culture that they were called to engage. George Marsden's book " Understanding Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism explores this movement at great length.

 The deeper life movement of today calls for Christians and churches to live a deeper more meaningful christian life. I for one feel that that there is warrant for a call that the church examine herself to make sure that a dead cold orthodoxy has not taken over. As J.I. Packer noted "Evangelical Christianity in North America is 3000 miles wide and a half inch deep."

My concern about this "New Age spirituality" is the subtle infusion of teaching that is completely foreign to Christian Orthodoxy and the Holy Scriptures. Much of the teaching is really an attempt to reorient evangelical Christianity. 

My call to the church and the individual christian is to take this movement and its authors and teachers to the light of the Holy Scriptures. The instruction of Paul to the Church of Thessolonica was to examine everything carefully and to hold fast to that which is good (1Thessalonians 5:21). The Bible is clear that, " God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3).

There is no new truth or hidden secret knowledge that is being discoverd today that can make us deeper more spiritual Chriastians. All that we need to be Godly is found in the pages of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. There are no formulas or methods that the believer uses to grow in his relationship with Christ. 

Here is a look at one of the contemplatives that has gained wide acceptance in the Evangelical community; his name is Brennan Manning: This information was taken from "The Way Of Life Literature."http://www.wayoflife.org/files/f00aa44cb8005f573ad047f1e90ffc41-188.html

Taken from  Manning’s web site features his biography. What is glaringly absent is any scriptural testimony of salvation. Instead, we find the following statement:
“In February 1956, while Brennan was meditating on the Stations of the Cross, a powerful experience of the personal love of Jesus Christ sealed the call of God on his life.”
There is no repentance, no rejection of false gospels, no Scriptural new birth, merely a “sealing” of that which began at his infant baptism. Manning went on to become a Franciscan priest and though he is no longer active he continues to attend and promote the  Catholic mass. When he is in his home in New Orleans he attends the morning daily mass at the Holy Spirit Catholic Church.

Listed below are just a few of Manning's false and damaging teachings:

Manning says, “God is a kooky God who can scarcely bear to be without us” (
The Ragamuffin Gospel, p. 165). Would you ever describe The Sovereign King as "a kooky God?"

“The first step toward rejuvenation begins with accepting where you are and exposing your poverty, frailty, and emptiness to the love that is everything. Don’t try to feel anything, think anything, or do anything ... Don’t force prayer. Simply relax in the presence of the God you half believe in and ask for a touch of folly” (
The Ragamuffin Gospel, p. 196). Does this sound like sound Biblical Theology to you? Not thinking or feeling are part of the teachings of the contemplative prayer movement.

Manning promotes visualization, instructing people to visualize what Jesus might have looked like (p. 197). This is vain idolatry. No man knows what Jesus looked like, and if I visualize what I THINK He looked like I am creating my own idol.

Manning promotes silent meditation. He once spent six months in isolation in a cave in Spain. He meditates in silence each day. He spends eight days a year at a Jesuit retreat center in Colorado during which he speaks only 45 minutes each day. His primary spiritual director is a Dominican nun.

Mike Gendron in his article "Beware of Wolves in Sheep Clothing" presents more background information on the dangers of Mannning's contemplative prayer, mystical teachings, his link http://www.reachingcatholics.org/beware.html

Some might ask did you read the book "The Ragamuffin Gospel?" to which I would affirm yes! I read his book from cover to cover along with countless reviews that present on a consistent basis the heretical teachings of Brennan Manning.

Another danger in Manning's book along with another popular author Richard Foster "Celebration of Discipline" is all the references to those who are completely sold out to Eastern Mysticism. You will come across the teaching of universalism, pantheism, all roads lead to God, and a flat out denial of the work of Christ on the cross.

Here is a list of men and women that you will see referenced by both Manning and Foster. And keep in mind not referenced as to people that the christian should be aware of and avoid, but referenced as men and women who speak profound and deep spiritual truths:

Thomas Merton 1915-1968 

At an inter faith conference in Thailand Merton stated:
I believe that openness to Buddhism, to Hinduism, and to these great Asian [mystical] traditions, we stand a wonderful chance of learning more about the potentiality of our own Christian traditions.

Henry Nouwen 1932-1996

At the end of his life Nouwen proclaimed:
Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God's house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.

Sue Monk Kidd 1948-

I am speaking of recognizing the hidden truth that we are one with all people. We are part of them and they are part of us ... When we encounter another person, ... we should walk as if we were upon holy ground. We should respond as if God dwells there.

These reference can be found in the book "A Time of Departing" by Ray Yungen, all references are well documented with  extensive end notes in the back of his book.

To those believers who may have started on this precarious path please turn around and go back to the clear teaching of the Bible. If your church is promoting this New Age Mysticism talk to your leadership, show them this blog, get the book "A Time of Departing," if your leadership refuses to listen you must leave and find a fellowship where the leadership will not promote New Age Mysticism.

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