Has Eastern Mysticism Entered the Church?

Discussion in 'General Baptist Discussions' started by Revmitchell, Sep 8, 2006.

  1. Revmitchell

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  2. El_Guero

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    scary isn't it?
     
  3. Lagardo

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    Centering prayer is a kind of contemplative prayer. The term, "Contemplative Prayer" is somewhat of an umbrella term for several things, one of which is centering prayer.

    As with many things, people have different understandings and approaches concerning these things. I attended a seminar on Contemplative Prayer last year. I found it to be very informative. I found it to be very informative and somewhat useful. Centering prayer did not involve a mantra. Rather, it was an attempt to "be still and know that He is God." Silence is hard especially mentally. How often do our thoughts roam while praying? So not only is the person to be silent, but also to "take every thought captive" so that one can truly focus on God. A mantra would have been too distracting.

    I find that centering prayer would be useless if that was the only thing someone did and called it prayer. There was really no prayer involved, just preparing for prayer.

    The problem, as I see, with a lot of these practices is that it can very easily promote a false sense of spiritual things.
     
  4. Lagardo

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    Yes, alarmist websites are scary.
     
  5. gb93433

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    I think the test is when we examine things to determine if the arrow is pointing in or out. Christ did not come to make us feel good but for salvation. Included in slavation is living. When Jesus came he came to give us life and that means really live. Real living is taking out eyes off ourselves and placing them on Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith.

    There is a lot of garbage with a new name each year. We just need to get real and get down to business with God. Jesus gave one program--make disciples and it was included in our life in Christ. Too many are making excuses and are too lazy to do the hard and costly work of making disciples. How can we expect non-believers to get down to business with God when we are playing and setting up programs instead of being real. Prayer is work. It is hard work. It is humbling work. It is a work which reveals our heart.

    It often reminds me of the idea that if Henry Ford were living today would he ratrher see one good running Ford or a thousand in the junk yard.

    Recently a lady from a another country told me that she had noticed in America a lot of peope read about the Bible but not many read it.
     
  6. Helen

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    A lot of this started with Agnes Sanford, easily 25 or more years ago. Yes, it has its roots in paganism and it is a lot more than simply being still in one's heart. ( http://www.schoolofpastoralcare.net/healing_light.htm )
    I am linking that only as a warning. If you read the exerpt from her book, you will find that Eastern mysticism permeates it. This is NOT biblical Christianity.

    Our associate pastor at the time was the son of a student of Sanford's. He held a session for us on visualizing Christ and centering down in prayer. I was not only uncomfortable with all of it, but after some studying later found that it was actually occultic.

    Dave Hunt was sounding a clear warning in 1985 with his book "The Seduction of Christianity" and also with this article, among others, which is dated 1989: http://www.thebereancall.org/Newsletter/html/1989/jul89.php

    Simple, pure, biblical Christian faith is becoming a rarity, Baptist or no, church or no. Even here on BB, there are a number of people who seem to prefer to read anything but Bible.

    My husband and I urge anyone reading this to open up their Bibles and read them through. Pray first and ask for wisdom. God is not sparing with answering 'yes' to that prayer. Then, at about four chapters a day, you will finish the Bible in a year. Then do it again. Read different standard translations to see where interpreters and translators disagree, and know that none of them (in the standard translations) was trying to deceive anyone, but that they had different manuscripts and different levels of understanding to work from. But above all, pray and read your Bibles. This is a time of massive deception.

    And no, Lagardo, that is not an alarmist website in the sense of promoting panic for the sake of it or for money. Sending out a clear warning is necessary for this kind of thing.
     
  7. Revmitchell

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    The only way to prepare for prayer is the the Word of God and fasting.
     
  8. Marcia

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    This area is a big part of my ministry. I've been following and writing on this for several years, and have even been interviewed on the radio on it. I've even done workshops on it.

    There is a problem using Ps. 46.10 to justify contemplative prayer. The passage is not saying to be physically still in order to contemplate, but it is a reprimand from God to the nations to stop fighting (the NASB says "Cease striving") and recognize who's in charge (God). The context is not a soothing or calming tone at all. I wrote an article on Ps. 46 and this topic, which is here:
    http://cana.userworld.com/cana_Meditation_Psalm.html

    The Contemplative Prayer as being pushed now, for the most part, has its origins in a movement started 20 yrs. ago by 3 Trappist monks, Thomas Keating, Basil Pennington, and Menninger (forgot his first name). Keating teaches Eastern concepts, such as going beyond thinking to "no-thought" in order to have intimacy with God. This is not prayer at all; it's actually very Buddhist. And why would it be? Well, because the way this started was having buddhist monks at a monastery where this movement was birthed. They also had a TM (transcendental meditation) teacher give them classes on doing TM! That is where the mantra comes. Not all CP uses a mantra, but some CP teachers and books suggest it.

    These monks were influenced by the Catholic monk Thomas Merton who was heavily influenced by buddhism. Merton even tried to be initiated into an esoteric Tibetan Buddhist
    meditation technique (and believe me, this is totally occultic) while he was in Asia. Merton, Keating, and Pennington have called Asian gurus "wise" and "spiritual masters." They admire them.

    I have an article on CP which was published earlier on my site here:
    http://cana.userworld.com/cana_ContemplativePrayer1.html

    I have read books by Merton, Keating, and Pennington. Some of what they teach is Eastern - I spent many years prior to salvation learning and praciticing Eastern meditation (Hindu, Tibetan Buddhist, Zen, and assorted New Age techniques) as well as reading books on it, and I recognize the techniques and the concepts.

    Another reason this is getting in the church is because of Richard Foster and Brennan Manning, both of whom endorse it. They are very popular among evangelicals.

    Contemplative Prayer, as it is mostly taught now, is neither true contemplation nor prayer.

    Exactly. This is one of my big concerns.
     
  9. Marcia

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    I totally agree with Helen. I picked up a book by Sanford when I was about 3 days old in the Lord. I turned to one section and read it, and put the book back thinking, "This is like the New Age beliefs God just delivered me from!" A few months later, I looked at another book she had and saw pantheistic beliefs.

    I just got a book by Sanford disposed of at my church on a table of free books outside the library. I have been reading it and what I recall is being confirmed. She seems to see God as having some kind of energy you can harness and access within yourself through various techniques. I have no idea where Sanford stood spiritually (I think she was a charismatic Episcopalian) in terms of being saved, but these concepts are very New Age, and actually are occult concepts of healing. Helen is right on the money with that.

    Sadly, these ideas are moving swiftly into evangelical churches, partly due to the postmodern church, which seems to be drawn to mysiticsm, and partly due, imo, to lack of Bible study and discernment in the church. Also, I think people want something "new" and seem to be fascinated by new ways of doing things.
     
  10. donnA

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    I've not heard of it before. Well, in christianity that is. I ahven't read the link or the other posts yet though.
     
  11. donnA

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    Ok, I've read all the posts, and am working on the web site link. But, somebody help me here to understand this topic.
    Contrast this with biblical prayer for me, or how you see prayer. Marcia maybe.
    When I sit down to prayer time I will usually read my bible first, I prefer to be alone, and to keep focused on God, still and quiet. Some of my prayer might be outloud, some may not, it depends, there might be singing and there might not(see why I prefer to be alone). And some of there might not be any words at all, just being with God, knowing His presence, one on one, with hopefully no distractions.
    So help me understand the difference.
     
  12. Marcia

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    There is a difference! First of all, CP is often presented as superior to normal prayer, so it's not the prayer most of us do, as you describe. In other words, they make a distinction though sometimes they try to backtrack and not make a distinction.

    It's not just being quiet, praying silently, focusing on God, etc. Those are all normal and biblical.

    It's about going beyond words and thoughts to a special state of awareness (Keating actually uses "pure consciousness") so that you feel God. This is one of the problems - we are not supposed to try to have an experience or try to feel God. It's fine if we have a wonderful experience while praying or we feel God's presence, but we don't have to know to know he's there. That is what faith is about.

    They teach techniques for this. Prayer is not a technique.

    Keating even says that you go to a state where there is no "subject-object distinction" between you and God.

    All of this is part of a wave of emotion and mysticism coming into the church that is giving believers the idea that they must feel things or they are not "experiencing" God's presence.

    Just read my article - I explain it all there; I can't rewrite it here. :smilewinkgrin:
    http://cana.userworld.com/cana_ContemplativePrayer1.html
     
  13. donnA

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    Well, this is disturbing.
    Thanks Marcia.
    Ok, a question, wonder if these christians who are promoting this know the difference? With pentacostalism, people are convinced they must feel something, making their relationship with God experience, emotion driven.
    There are false things from other religions in "the" church that have me concerned, it seems small, just a few words here ar there, no one giving it much thought. Samll, but damaging, and wrong.
     
  14. ituttut

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    Amen Revmitchell. In the Body of Christ can be found no "emptiness". We make up His Body Church, we in Him and He in us. He is the Head, so we are to endeavor to make empty, that which we can never be? Throw Him out as some demand? Along with you, a percentage (small as it may be) cannot be fooled by the foolish.

    Those with "twitching ears" and "empty heads" will go along with anything worldly thinking will offer them.
     
  15. Marcia

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    Either they don't know the difference or they don't see the problem (as in the case of Keating et al - they realize and admit the Eastern influence). But the bottom line is that they lack discernment.

    That's one of my problems with some charismatic churches. But if they are not teaching you must feel something to be close to God, then it's more a matter of just wanting it. CP teaches that you will be closest to God if you practice the CP techniques (they don't usually use the word "technique" and some will deny they are teaching techniques, but they are).
     
  16. Hope of Glory

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    I have seen many churches practice Eastern meditation (empty your mind, which I think opens it to all sorts of demonic influences) instead of Christian meditation (fill your mind with things of God).

    Many Eastern as Secular Humanist teachings are being taught from the pulpit today. One of those is mentioned above. Another is Darwinian evolution, by teaching that man is a two-part being (a body and a soul or spirit) instead of a three-part being (body, soul, and spirit) as the Bible teaches. These are common. But, many churches are even teaching the fallacy that all roads lead to heaven, and other feel-good teachings that are unbiblical.
     
  17. Marcia

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    I just want to point out that not all Eastern meditation teaches to empty the mind. That is mainly in Zen buddhism and they don't tell you to empty it but rather teach how to "sit" and let thoughts go (this is also New Age).

    Sometimes Eastern forms teach you to sit there and notice your breath, sometimes to count your breaths, or the exhalations. I have even seen this taught on Christian sites promoting CP. This can turn into a form of self-induced hypnosis.

    In Hindu meditation, sometimes you are seeing things and hearing things.

    There are actually a multitude of Eastern forms of meditation.

    This CP is being taught to youth, mainly via Youth Specialities, which is promoting it among teens big time.

    NavPress also has articles on their site promoting it.
     
  18. Baptist Believer

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    I've looked briefly at the links you referenced, and the authors of the Web sites drag Richard Foster and Dallas Willard into their accusations. I haven't read Agnes Sanford's material, but I know Dallas Willard's books and teaching very well and have studied some of Richard Foster's writing regarding prayer and the disciplines.

    What is described on the Web site is not what Willard and (I believe) Foster advocate. They have apparently taken quotes out of their context to paint a picture of them that supports their agenda.

    For instance, Willard recommends solitude and meditation in the sense of getting away from all distractions and clearing your mind of all of the everyday things we obsess about (family, bills, schedules, commitments, etc.) and spending time in the presence of God, listening for His voice in our spirit, working through our prayer, and meditating on scripture that we have memorized - turning it over in our minds and feasting upon its meaning. They recommend this because Jesus often went away by Himself to pray and be refreshed in solitude.

    I haven't seen or heard Dallas Willard advocate anything that resembles the same kind of emptying of the mind that Buddhism teaches... in fact, he is notably critical of Buddhism in his oral teaching.

    I have a copy of Foster's "Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home." I haven't seen anything in that book (although I have not finished working through it) that advocates Eastern Mysticism.

    Here's something to consider, perhaps the reason that some folks assume that Willard and Foster are talking about the same thing that Eastern Mystics and New Agers are talking about is that some of the techniques for spiritual disciplines are similar because we are all human. Even pagans know how to discipline their minds and bodies for certain tasks (consider Paul's image of the Greek athlete training for the race), but those who are in Christ are forming their lives around truth and life from God. As Dallas Willard says, everyone is spiritually formed... it's just that some people are formed in sin, corruption, and spiritual bondage instead of holiness, life, and freedom.
     
  19. blackbird

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    Some of my best prayers are prayed on

    a John Deere tractor with "BushHog" attachment---clippin' a field of Golden Rods

    Some of my best prayers are prayed on

    the end of the taxiway leading to the runway inside a big jet or inside of a Piper Cub---"Lord here me now as if you've never heard before!!" and the noise of the Piper "Rubber banded" engine is deafening---certainly too noisy for anyone else but God to hear prayer concerns!!!!----the Regional jet service from Jackson, MS to Memphis, TN?????----everytime I fly I get closer and closer to needing what Redneck flyers call a "Mister T Shot"-----"Merdock! You're not gettin' me in that plane-----you crazy foo--
     
    #19 blackbird, Sep 8, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2006
  20. Marcia

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    Foster does advocate what I describe in my article. In fact, he even quotes from and mentions many of the original CP teachers. Foster's book on prayer is full of Eastern and New Age concepts. He does not support his teachings in that book with scripture, or if he does, it's out of context. Willard supports Foster and they have in fact produced a DVD teaching this stuff, albeit in a watered down form.

    This is not what the OP is about. CP is not about this - read my article if you want to see my biblical evaluation of this teaching and why there are problems. The Bible does say Jesus went off to pray alone but that's all it tells us. It does not say how he prayed. Foster and Willard and others imply Jesus was doing some kind of special contemplative meditation along the lines of what they teach. Foster and Willard also refer to the desert fathers quite a bit. I've read one book on mysticism and am reading another, and have read some about the desert fathers. They are not good teacher to follow for theology! We should use the Bible as the standard, not the desert fathers, Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, they mystics of the middle ages, etc. But this what Foster and Willard do.

    He has lots of stuff in there that is probematic and does come from Eastern/New Age views. I quote from it partly in my article. This is a book I would never recommend to anyone.

    Everyone is formed in sin and corruption at birth. Sure, training for a physical race is the same for lots of people. But we are talking about spirituality here - it's a whole other category. Please read my article and see where even these teachers admit to the Eastern influence. They don't deny it at all.
     

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