Phil Johnson Discusses Beth Moore’s “Orthodoxy” (Wretched)

Wretched speaks to Phil Johnson regarding Beth Moore and orthodoxy:

The following is from an old post I did on Moore:


BETH MOORE


So the question is, 1) who is BRENNAN MANNING that so influenced Beth Moore to have evoked her to [highly] recommend his book, RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL? and 2) where does he fall on the major doctrines we hold so dear to? This is where a decent study of theology comes in and should make aberrant teaching smoother to spot. I wish to allow Dr. Norman Geisler to lead off a quick summation of some of the doctrines the postmodern movement Mr. Manning finds himself in the thralls of:

Pastor GARY GILLEY, after bullet pointing some of the problems in Manning’s book introduced to many people through Moore’s book, says this:

Add all of this up and we have a book that makes some good points, especially about God’s grace, but distorts so much about God and truth as to render it worse than useless—it is downright dangerous.

[…here are the bullet points that preceded the above…]

✦ The sources for his philosophy of life range from Catholic mystics to Paul Tillich to Norman Mailer to Carl Jung.

✦ His use of Scripture is scanty but when he attempts to support his views from the Bible he usually goes astray (e. g. pp. 37, 142, 166-7, 220).

✦ He confuses “loving sinners” with “accepting their sin” (p. 33) and believes that forgiveness precedes repentance (pp. 74, 167, 181). This leads to continuous hints of universalism (pp. 21, 29, 31, 33, 37, 74, 223, 232) although he never directly claims to be a universalist.

✦ He is heavily soaked in pop-psychology which taints all he says: accepting self (pp. 49, 152, 229); self-intimacy (p. 49); loving ourselves (pp. 50, 168); inner child (p. 64); forgiving yourself (p. 115); self-image (pp. 147-148); self-worth (p. 148).

✦ He accepts a postmodern worldview and calls for us to be open-minded about truth, reality and Christ (p. 65).

✦ He consistently presents a lopsided view of God. God is loving and forgiving but never a judge, disciplinarian or punisher (p. 75), contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture.

✦ God is not man’s enemy, contrary to Romans 5 that says we are the enemy of God if we are not saved (p. 76).

✦ We are told that God does not test us or promote pain (p. 76).

✦ He believes that God speaks today outside of Scripture (pp. 94, 117, 186-187, 229) and that the presence of God is a felt experience that we should seek (pp. 45, 46, 94, 162, 229).

(READ MORE — empahis added)

This short critique (above) by a pastor should send up some warning flares and stir in us an apologetics bent to understand more how these associations can lead a weak Christian astray. For instance, let us “rabbit trail” some positions of this Catholic mystic. Manning recommends highly and even quotes the mystic/New Ager, Beatrice Bruteau in one of his books:

See:

In Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning says that Dr. Beatrice Bruteau is a”trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness.” Who is Beatrice Bruteau and what does she believe? She is the founder of The School for Contemplation, and she believes God is within every human being. She wrote the book, What We Can Learn from the East,

“We have realized ourselves as the Self that says only I AM, with no predicate following, not “I am a this” or “I have that quality.” Only unlimited, absolute I AM” [A Song That Goes On SingingInterview with B.B., one can read the entire section under “Human Choice” to understand just how New Age Beatrice is].

(Source)

“I AM,” of course, is one of the biblical names of God (EXODUS 3:14). Why would Manning recommend Bruteau with no warning if he does not agree with this blasphemy?

This isn’t “guilt by association” — so one knows the difference — it is “guilt by proxy.” A much more powerful legal term.

In The Signature of Jesus, Manning gives this quote from the mystic Catholic priest William Shannon and the Catholic Buddhist Thomas Merton:

“During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: ‘How can we best help people to attain union with God?’ His answer was very clear: WE MUST TELL THEM THAT THEY ARE ALREADY UNITED WITH GOD. CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER IS NOTHING OTHER THAN COMING INTO CONSCIOUSNESS OF WHAT IS ALREADY THERE” (p. 218).

Merton was a Trappist monk who promoted the integration of Zen Buddhism and Christianity. The titles of some of his books are “Zen and the Birds of the Appetite” and “Mystics and the Zen Masters.” He is of course famous for saying, “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity … I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.” I CRITIQUED MERTON because of an associate pastor at a local Bible centered church (in Castaic) saying he loved Merton. Mentioning that his professor at Biola was using a book in class that he didn’t find anything wrong with.Very sad and maddening at the same time. Simple care in learning our doctrines in fun ways (evangelism) can be a big help in leading us away from heresy. (Video in case it drops off YouTube: “Brennan Manning Explains His Emergent View of the Christian Faith”)

As with many such teachers who gain popularity by tickling ears, Manning overemphasizes the love and grace of God while ignoring His attributes of justice, righteousness and holiness. He teaches that Jesus has redeemed all of mankind. His “good news” is that everyone is already saved. Manning quotes David Steindl-Rast approvingly in his book, The Signature of Jesus (pp. 210, 213-214). Steindl-Rast, a contemplative Roman Catholic priest, said:

“Envision the great religious traditions arranged on the circumference of a circle. At their mystical core they all say the same thing, but with different emphasis”

(“Heroic Virtue,” Gnosis, Summer 1992).

Manning quotes Matthew Fox approvingly in two of his books, Lion and Lamb (p. 135) and A Stranger to Self Hatred (pp. 113, 124). Fox says:

“God is a great underground river, and there are many wells into that river. There’s a Taoist well, a Buddhist well, a Jewish well, a Muslim well, a Christian well, a Goddess well, the Native wells-many wells that humans have dug to get into that river, but friends, there’s only one river; the living waters of wisdom”

Quoted from John Caddock, “What Is Contemplative Spirituality,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 1997.

Even Manning’s approach to prayer is aberrant. In The Signature of Jesus Manning promotes the dangerous practice of centering prayer, which involves chanting “a sacred word” to empty the mind and allegedly enter into silent experiential communion with God within:

“[T]he first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer. … enter into the great silence of God. Alone in that silence, the noise within will subside and the Voice of Love will be heard. … Choose a single, sacred word repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, and often” (pp. 212, 215, 218).

This is a New Age/Eastern concept of prayer.

Not a Christian concept of it.

So where does this example leave us? It leaves us at a couple of places. Some of the critique I use above comes from a book that I would recommend to a friend/believer, but with a caveat. The author can be very legalistic and I would point out that some aspects of how the author applies their understanding of the Gospel is dealt with in Galatians (maybe mentioning Luther’s commentary on Galatians as a resource to better grasp this concept of the freedom we have in Christ). The book is Contemplative Mysticism: A Powerful Ecumenical Bond, by David Cloud.

Likewise, I am sure the believer who is well moored in the foundational beliefs and how they work themselves throughout our culture can read Beth Moore and glean from it helpful input into one’s faith. Should it be at the top of a recommend list for one God fearing woman to recommend to another, no. Can it be of benefit as a resource for a woman struggling with issues, of course, as long as the person doing the recommending adds a cautionary note. Like I did with my recommended resource.

Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license—which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master. (JUDE 3-4, The Message)

As one studies all the facets of apologetics, rabbit trails will appear, but in them all remember a key thing, harkening back to Dr. Ganssle when he mentioned that our sinful condition has even effected our reasoning skills. Building on that take note that even if we have thought through a matter, worked on it, got it to line up with orthodoxy and have sound reasoning… often times our intentions in presenting it as well as the delivery and how the other corrupted person hears it are all at play. Which is why we say the Holy Spirit must be the Prime Mover at the deepest levels for a person to be moved by a truth, by thee Truth. Quoting Dr. Ganssle again:

Each one of the three angles or themes concerning apologetics is legitimate and fruitful. Each is worthy of careful study. Despite this fact, there are two trends I wish to point out First, most of the thinking about apologetics has been on the academic themes. While this weight of attention is not in itself a bad thing, it may allow us to forget the other angles of apologetics. Second most of the criticisms of the usefulness of apologetics find there root in confusing the academic angle of apologetics with the entirety of the apologetic enterprise. Those of us who work in the academic angle bear much of the blame for this confusion. Sometimes we are overzealous about the strength of our arguments or how interesting they ought to be to nonbelievers. [This includes discussions with fellow Christians and topics.] Sometimes we neglect the large distinction between arguments that are technically strong and those that might be persuasive to a given person. Sometimes we neglect the missional themes in the apologetic task and thereby reinforce the notion that coming to believe that Christianity is factually true is the main task in our witness. By articulating the importance of the missional angle, as well as of the theological angle, we can defuse many criticisms of apologetics. (emphasis and addition in box quotes mine.)

I hope this short introduction to apologetics was and is helpful. There are three books I highly recommend as great starter points to both understanding the importance of apologetics as well as seeing the differing models of thinking in the world compared. These three resources are technical enough to invigorate the thinker as well as great introductions to the subject accessible to the layman.

  1. Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith;
  2. Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists;
  3. Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding Apologetics (Holman Quicksource Guides)

Photographing Auras In “The New Age”

Richard Feynman once said  that the “first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” In my lifetime I have encountered the truth of this “law” more than a few times. My deep dive into believing the conspiratorial view of history for many years and my eventual tri-fecta causing me to reevaluate the truth of what I previously held as truths.

  • What happened was (1) Y2K, (2) I started listening to and being challenged by Michael Medved’s “Conspiracy Show,” which lead me to try and (3) follow AND confirm the many references to historical positions made in these books, which failed miserably. (RPT)

So I come at this with sympathy for the gullibility of our human nature. Which leads me to a recent conversation with a gentleman I respect, but, is a bit young in his “critical skills.” A classic in debunking — though many years old – is of James Randi debunking an Aura Reader. But the purpose of this post is to deal with why Kirlian photography is explained completely by natural processes and has nothing to do with metaphysics and auras.

WHAT IS KIRLIAN PHOTOGRAPHY?

STALKING LIGHT explains the process for us:

Kirlian photography, although the study of which can be traced back to the late 1700s, was officially invented in 1939 by Semyon Davidovitch Kirlian.  The Kirlian photographic process reveals visible “auras” around the objects photographed.  These photographs have been the subject of much myth and controversy over the years.  Interestingly, much of which was initially put forth to explain the Kirlian photography phenomena was put forth by the inventor himself, along with his wife.

The process of taking a Kirlian photo is a fairly simple one and does not even require the use of a camera.  First, a sheet of photographic film is placed on top of a metal plate.  Then, the object that is to be photographed is placed on top of the film.  To create the initial exposure, high voltage current is applied to the metal plate.  The electrical coronal discharge between the object and the metal plate is captured on the film.  The Kirlian photograph, which shows a light, glowing silhouette around the photographed object, becomes visible as a result of developing the film.

NEW AGE “CONFIRMATIONS”

The technique became popular in the 70’s, with the influx of New Age and susceptibility to wanting to believe in something beyond “us” that is still driven and centers on the “inner divinity” — as part of the rejection of the Judeo-Christian tradition that the “counter-culture” was rejecting. Drugs also played a part in the susceptibility of a generation.  It is a human construct (history teaches us this) to worship ourselves in some way, and New Age religions offer this in spades:

(See for responses: Issues ETCPastor Dennis Ingolfsland | Probe Ministrties | Mama Bear Apologetics)

This always the outcome of the New Age movement, self divinity. It is the oldest lie in the Book.

  • When a Man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything. ~ G. K. Chesterton

The urge to believe in something and the ease we can fool ourselves at times combine to anesthetize our critical thinking.

TRICKS OF THE TRADE

And often times it is the simple practicing of simple psychological tricks and perception and planted words that help the aura reader do his “magic.” (The aura reader can slightly change the outcome of the aura as well, depending on the “vibe” he is getting from the client. More on this later.) This “reading” is similar to other New Age practices like crystal ball readings, tarot cards, and the like:

I must say that the practice of revealing the hidden by reading one’s palm still fools thousands of people who are unaware of the simple tricks used. The more personalized secrets the palm reader or crystal ball gazer is able to reveal, the more one is inclined to believe that palm reading is actually a skill rather than a trick. While some readings are done by collecting information on the client beforehand or use known principles of psychology that apply to nearly everyone. and is referred to as a hot reading, others are preformed by what is known as a cold reading. This is when the crystal ball or palm reader uses both his clever intuition or insight into a persons personality or character traits to give the reading. Sometimes he is also able to extract lots of information from his client by observing him very carefully and listening to his answers. (FRUMSCAMS)

So now we get into some hints that the claims of us having an aura are actually better explained by the processes used to “capture” it. For instance, the early “leaf” experiments were later challenged and when reproduced properly, did not repeat the effects:

CLAIMS TESTED

The same is true for the effect the Kirlian’s saw when they cut off part of a leaf and then placed the leaf back on the photographic film and took another photograph. They claimed that the leaves showed up whole, as though the missing part had never been cut away – and they pointed to this as evidence that Kirlian photography could photograph the “life force” or aura of living things.

This effect was likely due to the fact that the Kirlians did not change the glass plate used to photograph the leaf, so the residual moisture left from the part of the leaf that had been cut off still remained. This allowed the electronics corona discharge to still occur on that part of the leaf – because the electrons were still flowing through the moisture on the plate, even though that portion of the leaf had been cut off.

This scientific fact was later proved by researchers at Drexel University, who noticed that the “cut leaf” effect did not occur when they replaced the glass with a new one before photographing the freshly cut leaf. 

(TOP SECRET WRITERS [more from TSW below*] | CRYSTALINKS)

researchers at Drexel University have recreated the famous cut leaf experiment that the Kirlians stood by, and decided it was erroneously conducted, which led to false results.

The team photographed a whole leaf on a glass plate, then changed it before producing an image of the cut one. The leaf appeared as it was, namely halved, which demonstrated that the only reason why Semyon and Valentina made their discovery was due to a buildup of residual energy that caused inaccuracies in their tests.

Therefore, the metaphysical explanation is off the table. So, what causes the effect produced by Kirlian photography? The general consensus among scientists is that the images are created by a high voltage corona effect. The same process can be observed at the level of other sources of high voltage, SUCH AS TESLA COILS, OR THE VAN DE GRAAFF GENERATOR

(PIXSY)

Not only is this similar to the Tesla coil, but pictures of the various colors surrounding people is also easily explained:

  • Living thingsare moist. When the electricity enters the living object, it produces an area of gas ionization around the photographed object, assuming moisture is present on the object. This moisture is transferred from the subject to the emulsion surface of the photographic film and causes an alternation of the electric charge pattern on the film. (SKEPDIC)

CREATIVE PHOTO CONNECT explains more the above:

However, all these claims no longer stand, as science explains that the variations in color are produced by quantifiable factors. The glowing shapes appear due to the water content in the subject, which makes the air around the object become ionized when exposed to high-voltage current. If the surrounding air contains any moisture, the resulting picture will contain a colorful silhouette around the object, a phenomenon scientifically called corona plasma discharge.

Even if there is nothing supernatural, paranormal or psychic about the Kirlian photography, most photography enthusiasts will get a kick out of experimenting with this technique.

[….]

Kirlian photography is still fascinating for scientists and photographers, even after the myth of auras was debunked. Even if the surrounding New Age theories were proven wrong, this technique was not abandoned.

Many people do not realize that the subjects taking the photograph have their hands on an electrocharged plate:

The film merely picks up the ionized air and the moisture. Slight changes in voltage, moisture, film, and gullibility of the client combined with hints picked up by the reader in demeanor, reactions to discussion, and the likecan cause someone to put their faith in a neat photographic trick as more than just that. WIRED MAGAZINE notes the industry that cropped up around these natural forces. The cost of the AuraCam6000 at the date of the article was $10,000 new.

The New Age is not a new subject to me… (some examples)…

“WE” UNITE ALL THE ABOVE

But what unites all the above ~ the cults, the occult, world religions, and even my own faith and it’s aberrant ruminations (word faith, positive confession, televangelists, and the like — see my eulogy at my dads funeral for an example) ~ is the human need for controlling one’s circumstances and outcomes. Combined with ultimately, fooling ourselves. What helped me out of my aberrant view of history were common sense facts. So here are some quick refutations to show straight forward thinking to knock others out of their malaise.

AURAS IN EVERYTHING?

First, auras are in living things — supposedly. But Kirlian photography show them in non-living things:

Here one can see the set-up that causes what we are seeing:

BULLET POINTED REFUTATIONS

Obviously the above is easily explained… as are similar aspects of “aura photography.” Many paranormal enthusiasts still claim that the aura captured by Kirlian photography is some sort of “life force”. However, this is easily debunked (MEDIA COLLEGE):

  • Kirlian photographs can be taken of anything moist or conductive, including coins, paper clips, etc.
  • Kirlian photographs taken in a vacuum (where no ionized gas is present) show no aura.
  • Some people claim that a living object slowly loses its aura after it dies. This is more easily explained by the fact that it loses its moisture.

But not easily debunked to people who are vested in (emotionally and financially) such constructs.


TSW CONTINUED


*TOP SECRET continues with another “experiment” explained well by natural (moisture and temperature) changes:

“When a man was photographed before taking a drink of alcohol, his fingertip was black; after the drink, the tip was literally ‘lit up’.”

It is human nature to apply extraordinary explanations to such an event. The author would have you believe that the calming effects of alcohol enlivened the aura of the man, and led to his fingertip “lighting up” with the energies created by his intoxication. The truth, however, is far more mundane. In holding the cold glass of alcohol, likely with a fresh film of condensation on the outside of it, the man successfully dampened his dry finger and increased its conductivity, making it an ideal object for the flow of electrons during the coronal discharge.

It is a perfect example of how the lack of scientific understanding about an event can lead to all sorts of wild and erroneous conclusions, and how that can also lead to the start of an elaborate and fraudulent meme that lives on in society, long after the original inventors are gone.

UFOs or Demons (UPDATED)

(This post is tied to a similar discussion of Ghost)

Take note I do not endorse everything noted in this documentary or the articles, but the similarity between alien encounters, spiritism (like mediums), ghosts, the occult, and the like, is the important issue here ~ NOT “government conspiracies” or the like.

While this documentary is dated, the DVD for purchase (I did edit it a bit), and here.

Two decent articles on the issue of UFOs and the Christian worldview, are as follows:

And the best books on the subject are by William Alnor!

Another great book, and a quick read, is Ron Rhodes book,

A note from my Facebook about this and my other post:

I posted two older documentaries (they are from the 80’s, so expect the pat narrator and eerie music) and some links of my own thoughts on the matter.

These two posts give a theistic-Christian interpretation to UFOs, ghosts, spirit mediums, and the like. You can break the world’s 10,000 religious beliefs down to a handful of worldviews and each worldview has a distinct interpretation of the evidence. So if you are a Christian, you cannot believe a ghost is a departed love one or a soul lost and wandering the earth (Hebrews 9:27[note]).

So what is the explanation for these apparent metaphysical encounters?

Well, you will have to see and watch for yourself:

UFOs or Demons
Spiritism and Ghosts ~ The Christian View


[Note] Mind you, it seems clear that before their real conversion to the idea of who Jesus was (God Almighty), the Disciple also believed in ghosts (https://carm.org/did-the-disciples-of-Jesus-believe-in-ghosts).

So I am not saying the person who does believe in these things are retarded or dumb. All I am saying is in the Christian worldview these interpretations do not fit the evidence. I would challenge the believer to mature in their understanding of what their view says and how believing in ghosts being departed people, ETs that posses people, etc,…

…are borrowing from other worldviews and cutting-n-tapping it into the worldview of Christianity.

Do You Believe in Ghosts? The Christian View of the Paranormal

Excellent two part video series by God and Science:

– the author of these videos id Richard Deem


UPDATE


Here are two recent article about an OXFORD study using Drake’s Equation:

Drake’s work can be expressed thus: N = R ∗ fp ∗ ne∗ fl ∗ fi ∗ fc ∗ L

  • R* = How frequently are suns born whose light could conceivably sustain intelligent life?
  • fp = What fraction of those stars have planets?
  • ne = How many of those planets, per solar system, have environments suitable for life?
  • fl = What fraction of those planets actually host life?
  • fi = What fraction of those life-bearing planets have intelligent life?
  • fc = What fraction of those intelligent civilizations broadcast detectable signals into space?
  • L = How long do those civilizations broadcast detectable signals into space?

Here is the first article via Michael Guillen at FOX NEWS:

According to a team of researchers at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute, it’s because we’ve been using the wrong factors in the Drake Equation. We – including usually hard-nosed scientists – want so badly for there to be LGM, we’ve been grossly overestimating the values of Drake’s factors, resulting in a flagrant overestimation of the number of civilizations that should exist out there.

When the Oxford folks assign realistic numerical values to the seven factors – based on an honest evaluation of the uncertainties in our very best chemical, biological, physical, and astronomical knowledge – Frank’s famous equation predicts a much, much, much smaller number than 1,000 – 100,000,000 intelligent civilizations per galaxy. The median number plummets to something as low as 0.00000000000000000000000000000000008 (that’s an eight preceded by thirty-four zeroes).

In plain English, explain the authors in a paper submitted to the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, “we find a substantial probability that we are alone in our galaxy, and perhaps even in our observable universe.” If any LGM do exist out there somewhere, the researchers conclude, it is somewhere over the rainbow, so to speak – “quite possibly beyond the cosmological horizon and forever unreachable.”

So, next time you look up at the night sky and say to yourself, “There has to be someone out there!” think again. Even though it sounds like a possibility more fantastic than the Tooth Fairy, science itself is presently telling us we are very likely it – the only intelligent creatures inhabiting this immense and incredible universe.

The other is from COSMOS:

….Sandberg, Drexler and Ord use a different approach in their modelling, incorporating current scientific uncertainties that produce values for different parts of the equation ranging over tens and hundreds of orders of magnitude. Some of these concern critical questions regarding the emergence of life from non-living material – a process known as abiogenesis – and the subsequent likelihoods of early RNA-like life evolving into more adaptive DNA-like life.

Then there is the essential matter of that primitive DNA-like life undergoing the sort of evolutionary symbiotic development that occurred on Earth, when a relationship between two different types of simple organisms resulted in the complex “eukaryotic” cells that constitute every species on the planet more complicated than bacteria.

The results are depressing enough to send a thousand science-fiction writers into catatonic shock. The Fermi Paradox, they find, dissolves.

“When we take account of realistic uncertainty, replacing point estimates by probability distributions that reflect current scientific understanding, we find no reason to be highly confident that the galaxy (or observable universe) contains other civilizations,” they conclude.

“When we update this prior in light of the Fermi observation, we find a substantial probability that we are alone in our galaxy, and perhaps even in our observable universe.

“‘Where are they?’ — probably extremely far away, and quite possibly beyond the cosmological horizon and forever unreachable.”

Breatharianism

THE “AIR CULT” (Practice)

Here is a quick run-down of the cult via THE INDEPENDENT:

…Born in Australia as Ellen Greve, Jasmuheen has herself warned of the dangers of life with no or very food.

“If a person is unprepared and not listening to their inner voice there can be many problems with the 21-day process, from extreme weight loss to even loss of their life,” she wrote in one of her books.

Jasmuheen took part in a monitored fast for Australia’s 60 Minutes news programme in an attempt to prove her claims, but the show’s doctors cut short her attempt to last seven days after she became dehydrated, lost weight and her speech began to slow.

Nevertheless, Castello and Ricardo, who live between California and Ecuador, say they have forgotten what it feels like to be hungry.

They claim they survive on the “energy that exists in the universe and in themselves”.

“Humans can easily be without food, as long as they are the connected to the energy that exists in all things and through breathing,” Castello says. 

“For three years, Akahi and I didn’t eat anything at all and now we only eat occasionally like if we’re in a social situation or if I simply want to taste a fruit…

JASMUHEEN (Founder)

Of course… a cult based around a “diet.” Twenty-one days is also the time in the TV series, Naked and Afraid. Here is some information via APOLOGETICS INDEX:

Breatharianism is a concept which promotes living on light and almost entirely without food and liquids. Jasmuheen, its most prominent promoter, has been exposed as a fraud, but not before several followers of her philosophy died. 

Her book, “Living on Light,” is also titled “Pranic Nourishment,” referring to the Hindu concept of PRANA [see below] – Sanskrit for “breath” or “life-force.”

[….]

New Age guru Jasmuheen, 42, formerly Australian businesswoman Ellen Greve, claims to have 5,000 devotees to her “breatharian” programme. 

She stood by her diet regime yesterday despite the death of disciple Verity Linn.

[….]

“I can go for months and months without having anything at all other than a cup of tea,” she said. “My body runs on a different kind of nourishment.” She said that some people have gone for up to six years without eating or drinking.

[….]

Breatharians believe they are sustained by Pranic light, an ancient spiritual belief in the light of God which is found across the universe and inside everyone. But the organisation has been dogged by scandal. 

In 1983, most of the leadership of the cult in California resigned when Wiley Brooks, its 47-year-old leader, who claimed not to have eaten for 19 years, was caught sneaking into a hotel and ordering a chicken pie. 

The cult originated in China and the Far East. Last year a monk in Bangalore claimed to have fasted for a 365 days, drinking only one cup of hot water after sunrise and another before sunset. During this time he lost more than five stone. Western doctors who monitored his condition said it was astonishing.

(See also: CULT EDUCATION INSTITUTE; and, SNOPES)

PRANA

Sanskrit for “breath” or “life-force.” 


Prana is believed to be universal divine energy residing behind the material world (akasa). Prana is said to have five forms, and all energy is thought to be a manifestation of it. Swami Nikhilananada describes it in his Vivekananda – The Yogas and Other Works as “the infinite, omnipresent manifesting power of this universe” (979:592). Perfect control of prana makes one God. One can have “infinite knowledge, infinite power, now”

(APOLOGETICS INDEX)

A death in 1999 was this one recounted by THE INDEPENDENT:

  • The most recent death was that of Verity Linn, an Australian woman whose emaciated body was found on amountain in north-west Scotland in July. Among her possessions were a copy of Jasmuheen’s book, Living On Light, and a diary revealing that she was taking part in a 21-day fast. Jasmuheen’s books and Internet sites may also have contributed to the fatal fasts of a Melbourne woman, Lani Morris, last summer, and of a German kindergarten teacher, Timo Degen, in 1997.

HOLLYWOOD

There is — of course — a Hollywood connection:

Hollywood seems to be susceptible to the cults, at a higher rate than the general public. One cult that has less influence in Hollywood than say, Scientology, is “Breatharianism.” Michelle Pfeiffer shared recently that she was involved many years ago in the cult when she first came to Hollywood and was very impressionable (Breitbart). She talked about how her first husband, who worked on a movie about the Moonies, helped her see the cult like aspect of this group:

Ellen Greve (AKA, Jasmuheen)

Ellen Greve, the cults leader/”guru”, herself claims to have eaten nothing since 1993, surviving only on air and light.

[Editors note: Bul-l-l-l-shit]

“They worked with weights and put people on diets. Their thing was vegetarianism,” Pfeiffer said. “They were very controlling. I wasn’t living with them but I was there a lot and they were always telling me I needed to come more. I had to pay for all the time I was there, so it was financially very draining.”

“They believed that people in their highest state were breatharian,” the actress added.

According to Pfeiffer, she did not realize she was a member of a cult until she married former husband and fellow actor Peter Horton, who at the time was researching for a role in a movie about the Unification Church, founded by Sun Myung Moon. Members of the Unification Church have traditionally been referred to by the term ‘Moonies,’ though it is today regarded as a pejorative by the current leaders of the church.

“We were talking with an ex-Moonie and he was describing the psychological manipulation and I just clicked,” Pfeiffer told Stella magazine. “I was in one.”

(NEWSMAX)

I am glad she got out, but with many in Hollywood, the New Age is the biggest draw, then Scientology. The French have been vigilant in keeping an eye on the group:

French authorities have put a retreat organised by Australian self-styled guru Ellen Greve [pictured to the right] under surveillance, the Le Parisien newspaper reports.

The newspaper says the authorities are worried that it is a dangerous cult that has had a role in the deaths of three people around the world.

Jean-Michel Roulet, the head of the French Government’s anti-sect unit Miviludes, has told the newspaper that the prolonged fasting preached by Ms Greve is “aberrant”.

Mr Roulet says Ms Greve’s group has used “a veritable attack on an individual’s freedom by way of mental manipulation”.

A seminar in the south-eastern village of Devesset headed by Ms Greve, who calls herself ‘Jasmuheen’, is under “high surveillance”.

However, officials say those attending are all adults and that, barring a mishap during the gathering, there are no grounds for police to break it up.

Ms Greve, 48, teaches that people can live almost entirely without food or water under an approach she calls ‘breatharianism“.

(RELIGION NEWS BLOG)

“Teach by Contrast” | Walter Martin’s Last Time on TBN

This from MORIEL MINISTRIES (2011) explaining a bit about the above:

In light of another Calvary Chapel pastor making an appearance on TBN’s Praise-the-Lord program, I thought it apropos to share a tape in my collection of how a Bible believer should behave when invited onto TBN or any of the other errant “Christian” networks. What sort of message is communicated when a solid Bible teacher shares the platform with heretics and does not bring reproof? Certainly it gives the impression that the guest endorses the teaching of the hosts and /or founder of the Christian network.

Some argue that if they can’t go on TBN due to its corruption, then they couldn’t show up on ABC, NBC or CBS either. They don’t understand the distinction between being salt and light to the unsaved world and practicing biblical separation from so-called Christians who are spreading false teaching against Jesus Christ. To the unsaved, we can use their media to spread the Gospel, but to the errant brother we are to bring correction and divide if they do not stop their false teaching. For a proof-text consider 1 Corinthians 5:11:

“But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner””not even to eat with such a person.”

When Calvary Chapel Albuquerque’s pastor Skip Heitzig went on TBN last week acting like he and his host Phil Munsey were old friends, it was a shame to the spirit of that passage. Phil Munsey and his brother Steve Munsey are two of the most infamous extortioners in the field of Christian television. Munsey has used new age ideas of paradigm shifts and panentheism to spread his unbiblical dominionist views.

In contrast to the compromisers, the late Walter Martin tried to bring correction the last time he made an appearance on TBN. This video tape has never circulated and has not been available anywhere until now that I have posted it to YouTube.

Back in 1985 my younger sister was Martin’s secretary. She and my older sister and I all regularly attended his weekly Bible study. I used to share my research with him and also with my friend author Dave Hunt. Walter and Dave disagreed on many things regarding their styles of apologetics and discernment. Whenever there was a difference of opinion between the two of them, I usually agreed with Dave.

I had had some discussion with Dr. Martin over Dave’s book, The Seduction of Christianity. Walter had been critical about it on the radio having never read it but based his criticisms upon what his personal editor had told him.

One day my older sister was watching Praise-the-Lord when Hal Lindsey was a guest. He was her pastor at that time. Back then Hal used to challenge the teaching of other TBN regulars and Paul Crouch put up with it. However, that got old with the Crouches and when Hal wouldn’t stop criticizing the Kingdom Now doctrine, he was put on the shelf until he learned to kow-tow to them. When my sister heard Hal bring up Walter’s name in the show, Paul and Jan agreed that he was a brilliant man and Hal said you should have him on some time. They both responded – oh sure we will.

So she informed our little sister who told Walter and Walter told her to call TBN and arrange it which she did. However, the Crouches wouldn’t host him so they got prophecy teacher Doug Clark to do so. My younger sister called me on the day of the taping saying that Walter wanted me to go through Dave Hunt’s book, The Seduction of Christianity and highlight things he would be in agreement with. I was happy to do so for him. He used that information to challenge TBN’s blackballing of Dave Hunt and other whistle-blowers.

I stayed home to work the VCR I didn’t know how to program, while my two sisters attended, one in the green room and one in the audience we had stacked with many friends. Walter gave it to them with both barrels. Not only was the program not replayed at its regular slot, but the tapes were not available when people followed up to request one. Back in those days any Praise-the-Lord program could be bought on audio cassette for a small fee. And both Walter Martin and Doug Clark were never invited back. We had heard years later from Doug Clark that during the interview he kept receiving notes from the stage manager telling him to “shut that guy up” and other nasty notes….

Hillary Clinton’s Necromancy (Spirit Guides)

I remember this from an old documentary on the Clinton’s or an old documentary on spiritism. At any rate, here are some of the latest information on Hillary Clinton’s involvement in the occult as it get’s renewed in recent news cycles. I will start first with my most recent run-into the topic via POWERLINE:

This Washington Post story about a journalism dispute between Bob Woodward and ghost writer Barbara Feinman Todd is of little interest qua dispute. However, it pertains to a remarkable story about which I had forgotten — Hillary Clinton’s imaginary conversations, during her time as First Lady, with Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi.

As far as I can tell, the matter was not raised or noted by the mainstream media during the 2016 presidential campaign. I didn’t mention it either, but would have had I remembered it.

If there were evidence of Donald Trump communing with the dead, even if twenty years ago or more, the mainstream media very likely would have been aired the story. It would have been touted as evidence of Trump’s weirdness.

Clinton’s seance, which her defenders call a “psychological exercise,” is evidence of her weirdness. According to Woodward, Hillary’s ghost writer, the aforementioned Feinman Todd, told him she found the seance, which she witnessed, troubling….

The media is trying to say this was merely a physchological excersise (even SNOPES is on this band wagon), but Hillary’s ghost writer wouldn’t describe this as “troubling.” Here Bill Clinton mentions it in public:


“I know that because, as all of you famously learned when I served as president, my wife, now the secretary of State, was known to commune with Eleanor on a regular basis. And so she called me last night on her way home from Peru to remind me to say that. That Eleanor had talked to her and reminded her that I should say that.” 


A good commentary on the New Age guru that became Hillary’s confidant can be found at WOMEN OF GRACE (11-2010):

The talk all weekend was about Delaware GOP Senatorial candidate Christine O’Donnell’s confessed dabbling in witchcraft during her high school years, but where was the rage when then First-Lady Hillary Clinton was taking advice from New Age guru Jean Houston who taught her how to hold imaginary conversations with the dead?

[….]

Hillary Clinton had a long and serious relationship with New Age guru Jean Houston, the same woman who taught her how to use guided imagery to conduct imaginary conversations with Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Ghandi.

Houston is well-known and even revered in New Age circles. In her own brochures, she describes herself as a “leading pioneer in the exploration of human potentials and human consciousness.” 

According to the New Age Encyclopedia, Houston claims a first grade teacher in a Catholic school treated her so harshly she escaped into some kind of profound mystical experience that was described as “pantheistic” and “monistic.”  (I guess this means it was the Church’s fault.)

Houston later married Robert Masters, the psychotherapist and sexologist who co-authored the notorious Masters-Johnson report. The Encyclopedia states that she and her husband experimented with LSD and other hallucinogenic drugs, believing that drug-induced altered states of consciousness were the best way to convey “psychic truth” to people.

Although she claims to have earned a number of Ph.D.’s, records show that she received a doctorate in psychology in 1973 from Cincinnati Union Institute, “an alternative education program,” that did not become accredited until 1985.

Needless to say, Houston has a definite New Age occultic world-view whose books attempt to teach students how to make contact with an entity called “Group Spirit” which is supposedly the collective consciousness in which we can find the wisdom and creativity of us all.

The fact that someone like this was spending long hours in the White House counseling a First Lady was first reported by CNN in 1996 when famed Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward published a revealing behind-the-scenes look at the Clintons, entitled The Choice.

In it Woodward describes Houston as an influential advisor who urged Hillary to write her book, It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us, and in the process “virtually moved into the White House” for days at a time to help with revisions.

Naturally, the White House hoped to keep her relationship with Houston a secret….

One should note that maybe, yes, seances were not actually done… but in New Age occultism finding a spirit guide or communing with these “spirit guides” is a path to communication with the dead (in the Christian view, these are demonic forces).

A good book on encountering such things is The Beautiful Side of Evil, by Johanna Michaelsen (the foreword is by Hal Lindsey). Johanna takes you on a personal whirlwind tour of her encounters while trying to find meaning in her young life. (As a disclaimer, I do not endorse every premise presented in that book.)

Again, such seances are not required to allow communication with entities which are known as “familiars” that had attached to the individual in question, during their lifetime. Another good example of this “spirit guide” seeking in in the following documentary:

Here is a bit more info on Jean Houston and the non-seance/seance via GOD REPORTS:

….One was Jean Houston, co-director of the Foundation for Mind Research, which studies psychic experience and altered and expanded consciousness. “She was a believer in spirits, mythic and other connections to history and other worlds,” Woodward noted in his book.

Houston describes herself and her late husband, Robert Masters, as founders of the human potential movement. In the 1980s, Houston launched The Mystery School, where students embark on a year-long study of mythic stories which are meditated upon and enacted.

“Houston believed that her personal archetypal predecessor was Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. She conducted extensive dialogues with Athena on her computer that she called “docking with one’s angel. Houston wore an ancient Hellenistic coin of Athena set in a medallion around her neck all the time.”

[….]

Unusual sessions in the solarium

On her visit to the White House in early April 1995, Houston proposed that Hillary dig deeper for her connections to Mrs. Roosevelt. Houston and Bateson met with Hillary in the rooftop solarium, set atop the White House with windows on three sides.

It was afternoon and they all sat around a circular table with several members of the first lady’s staff. One was making a tape recording of the session. (One can only wonder if the tape still exists and if it formed the basis for the remarkable recounting of details by Woodward.)

“Houston asked Hillary to imagine she was having a conversation with Eleanor. In a strong and self-confident voice, Houston asked Hillary to shut her eyes in order to eliminate the room and her surroundings, and to focus her reflection by bringing in as many vivid internal sensory images as she could from her vast knowledge of Eleanor,” according to Woodward’s source.

Hillary sat back in her seat and closed her eyes. “You’re walking down a hall,” Houston said, “and there’s Mrs. Roosevelt. Now let’s describe her.”

Hillary proceeded to describe what she saw.

Houston instructed Mrs. Clinton to go to Eleanor and speak to her, according to Woodward’s book.

Hillary entered into a long discourse directed toward the former first lady. Houston asked the first lady to further open up herself to Mrs. Roosevelt, borrowing a technique “practiced by Machiavelli,” who used to talk to ancient men. “What might Eleanor say?”

Houston encouraged Hillary to respond as Mrs. Roosevelt. “I was misunderstood,” Hillary replied, her eyes still shut, speaking as Mrs. Roosevelt. “You have to do what you think is right. It was crucial to set a course and hold to it.”

Regarding the first lady’s controversial role in governing the country, Eleanor reportedly told Hillary, “You know, I thought that would have been solved by now. You’re going to have to just get out there and do it and don’t make any excuses about it.”….

(Read it all)

Um, occultism is occultism. For more on this topic, see my post HERE.

Biola University Continues It’s Slip Into Eastern Metaphysics (Updated)

(Originally Posted June 2013)

“Fr. Thomas Keating teaches on centering prayer who tells us contemplative prayer is a way of tuning into a fuller level of reality that is always present …”(Open mind, Open heart p.37). He explains “My acquaintance with eastern methods of meditation has convinced me that … there are ways of calming the mind in the spiritual disciplines of both the east and the west … Many serious seekers of truth study the eastern religions, …”What he is promoting is the concept of God permeating the air as prana.” (Lighthouse Trails)

Over the years I have noticed that Biola is going down a road that is based not in Christ, but in Eastern philosophy. For instance, my first encounter wit this came from an assistant pastor at a church in my town. When I was talking about how contemplative prayer came to our current faith (India, Alexandria, the Desert fathers, Thomas Merton, and then Keating/Nouwen/Foster, and the like), this pastor was shocked, and recommended a book he was studying in a class at Biola entitled, “A Seven Day Journey with Thomas Merton.” In it you have the christian faith laid into the matrix of Buddhist thought. Over the years since this jaw-dropping encounter with a pastor from a “Biblically conservative” church not seeing any problem with the book HE recommended to me, I have become more interested in where Biola was heading. And over the years they seem to put a stamp of approval on things un-Biblical. The most recent being a video presentation on Biola’s YouTube by Phileena Heuertz. She gave a presentation on, you guessed it, contemplative prayer.

In a question directed at Mrs. Heuertz elsewhere, Janice Kraus asks:

  • “I am trying to learn more about ‘Who I am’ and starting to use Mediation for purpose of changing my ways of thinking : Do you have any links for this and How can I find out who am I?”

Mrs. Heuertz responds:

  • dear janice, thanks for your honesty. i think we will all spend the rest of our life learning more about who we are. if you like to read, i recommend books by Henri Nouwen, Thomas Keating, Richard Rohr to support your journey. you can also check out my website at www.phileena.com for a list of recommended books and various blog posts that may assist you. ~be well. breath deep.

This response alone is telling. As is her recommended reading list from her site, it is a who’s who of New Age influence and Eastern metaphysics in the guise of Christianese. For instance, let’s deal JUST with Henri Nouwen whom she recommended above, and I wish to quote from my chapter on this topic, IN WHICH I quote from David Cloud’s book (pp. 317-321), Contemplative Mysticism: A Powerful Ecumenical Bond (Port Huron, MI: Way of Life Literature, 2008). It touches on a few other characters as well in Phileena’s reading list, like Sue Monk Kidd, but Nouwen’s alignment not with the Good News, but with Eastern metaphysics becomes clear:


QUOTE


Henri J.M. Nouwen (1932-1996) was a Roman Catholic priest who taught at Harvard, Yale, and the University of Notre Dame. Nouwen has had a vast influence within the emerging church and evangelicalism at large through his writings, and he has been an influential voice within the contemplative movement. A Christian Century magazine survey conducted in 2003 found that Nouwen’s writings were a first choice for Catholic and mainline Protestant clergy….

Nouwen did not instruct his readers that one must be born again through repentance and personal faith in Jesus Christ in order to commune with God. The book With Open Hands, for example, instructs readers to open themselves up to God and surrender to the flow of life, believing that God loves them unconditionally and is leading them. This is blind faith.

“When we pray, we are standing with our hands open to the world. We know that God will become known to us in the nature around us, in people we meet, and in situations we run into. We trust that the world holds God’s secret within and we expect that secret to be shown to us” (With Open Hands, 2006, p. 47).

Nouwen did not instruct his readers to beware of false spirits and to test everything by the Scriptures. He taught them, rather, to trust that God is leading in and through all things and that they should “test” things by their own “vision.” Nouwen claimed that contemplative meditation is necessary for an intimacy with God:

“I do not believe anyone can ever become a deep person without stillness and silence” (quoted by Chuck Swindoll, So You Want to Be Like Christ, p. 65).

He taught that the use of a mantra could take the practitioner into God’s  presence.

...Nouwen's Last Book

At the end of his life, in the last book he ever wrote (Sabbatical Journey), Henri Nouwen said the following:

  • 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.

Even though such a statement does not at all fit within biblical Christianity, and in essence denies the very foundation of Christ’s work on the Cross, Henri Nouwen is touted as a great spiritual figure by countless Christian leaders, pastors, seminary professors, etc.

(A response from the editor at Lighthouse Trails)

“The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart … This way of simple prayer … opens us to God’s active presence” (The Way of the Heart, p. 81).

He said that mysticism and contemplative prayer can create ecumenical unity because Christian leaders learn to hear “the voice of love”:

“Through the discipline of contemplative prayer, Christian leaders have to learn to listen to the voice of love. … For Christian leadership to be truly fruitful in the future, a movement from the moral to the mystical is required” (In the Name of Jesus, pp. 6, 31, 32).

In fact, if Christians are listening to the voice of the true and living God, they will learn that love is obedience to the Scriptures. “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).

Nouwen, like Thomas Merton and many other Catholic contemplatives, combined the teaching of eastern gurus with ancient Catholic practices. In his book Pray to Live Nouwen describes approvingly Merton’s heavy involvement with Hindu monks (pp. 19-28).

In his foreword to Thomas Ryan’s book Disciplines for Christian Living, Nouwen says:

“[T]he author shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Moslem religion. He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian and does not hesitate to bring that wisdom home” (Disciplines for Christian Living, p. 2).

Nouwen taught a form of universalism and panentheism (God is in all things).

  • “The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being” (Here and Now, p. 22).
  • “Prayer is ‘soul work’ because our souls are those sacred centers WHERE ALL IS ONE … It is in the heart of God that we can come to the full realization of THE UNITY OF ALL THAT IS” (Bread for the Journey, 1997, Jan. 15 and Nov. 16).

He claimed that every person who believes in a higher power and follows his or her vision of the future is of God and is building God’s kingdom:

  • “We can see the visionary in the guerilla fighter, in the youth with the demonstration sign, in the quiet dreamer in the corner of a cafe, in the soft-spoken monk, in the meek student, in the mother who lets her son go his own way, in the father who reads to his child from a strange book, in the smile of a girl, in the indignation of a worker, and in every person who in one way or another dreams life from a vision which is seen shining ahead and which surpasses everything ever heard or seen before” (With Open Hands, p. 113).
  • “Praying means breaking through the veil of existence and allowing yourself to be led by the vision which has become real to you. Whether we call that vision ‘the Unseen Reality,’ ‘the total Other,’ ‘the Spirit,’ or ‘the Father,’ we repeatedly assert that it is not we ourselves who possess the power to make the new creation come to pass. It is rather a spiritual power which has been given to us and which empowers us to be in the world without being of it” (p. 114).

The radical extent of Nouwen’s universalism is evident by the fact that the second edition of With Open Hands has a foreword by Sue Monk Kidd. She is a New Ager who promotes worship of the goddess! Her book The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine was published in 1996, a decade before she was asked to write the foreword to Nouwen’s book on contemplative prayer. Monk Kidd worships herself.

  • “Today I remember that event for the radiant mystery it was, how I felt myself embraced by Goddess, how I felt myself in touch with the deepest thing I am. It was the moment when, as playwright and poet Ntozake Shange put it, ‘I found god in myself/ and I loved her/ I loved her fiercely (The Dance of the Dissident Daughter, p. 136).
  • “Over the altar in my study I hung a lovely mirror sculpted in the shape of a crescent moon. It reminded me to honor the Divine Feminine presence in myself, the wisdom in my own soul” (p. 181).

Sue Monk Kidd’s journey from the traditional Baptist faith (as a Sunday School teacher in a Southern Baptist congregation) to goddess worship began when she started delving into Catholic contemplative spirituality, practicing centering prayer and attending Catholic retreats.

Nouwen taught that God is only love, unconditional love.

“Don’t  be afraid to offer your hate, bitterness, and disappointment to the One who is love and only love. … [Pray] `Dear God, … what you want to give me is love–unconditional, everlasting love”’ (With Open Hands, pp. 24, 27).

In fact, God’s love is not unconditional. It is unfathomable but not unconditional. Though God loves all men and Christ died to make it possible for all to be saved, there is a condition for receiving God’s love and that is acknowledging and repenting of one’s sinfulness and receiving Jesus Christ as one’s Lord and Saviour.

Further, God is not only love; He is also holy and just and light and truth. This is what makes the cross of Jesus Christ necessary. An acceptable atonement had to be made for God’s broken law.

In his last book Nouwen said:

“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” (Sabbatical Journey, New York: Crossroad, 1998, p. 51).


UNQUOTE


This radical rejection of the major tenants of the Christian Worldview, and acceptance of major tenants within Eastern metaphysics causes all sorts of interpretive problems for Phileena. Take for instance her understanding of the clear thesis/antithesis Jesus sets up in comparing His mission and how the world should understand the absolute worldview entwined in that mission. Here is a great Commentary on these words spoken of in Matthew 7:13:

Enter ye in at the strait gate,…. By the “strait gate” is meant Christ himself; who elsewhere calls himself “the door”, John 10:7 as he is into the church below, and into all the ordinances and privileges of it; as also to the Father, by whom we have access unto him, and are let into communion with him, and a participation of all the blessings of grace; yea, he is the gate of heaven, through which we have boldness to enter into the holiest of all by faith and hope now; as there will be hereafter an abundant entrance into the kingdom and glory of God, through his blood and righteousness. This is called “strait”; because faith in Christ, a profession of it, and a life and conversation agreeable to it, are attended with many afflictions, temptations, reproaches, and persecutions. “Entering” in at it is by faith, and making a profession of it: hence it follows, that faith is not the gate itself, but the grace, by which men enter in at the right door, and walk on in Christ, as they begin with him. (Source)

Here is how Phileena sees it, and it is more about her and her experience than about Jesus and the source for grace:

What makes this personalizing Jesus’ message all-the-more odd is that in reality Phileena believes in some form of universalism — and we know this by the authors and people whom she recommends as well as posting a video of Thomas Keating recently (a small portion of which is below, right) on her front-page of her blog. Making one wonder how universalism is now understood as the narrow way? For instance, let us now deal with Thomas Keating’s universalism:

A KUNDALINI BREAK

This short video sample is from Chapter 6 and Chapter 8 of our video, The Submerging Church. It goes into how the Emergent Church are bringing the Contemplative Prayer, Mysticism and New Age practices into the church.


QUOTE


…Keating combines contemplative practices with humanistic psychology, eastern religion, and New Age, and he has been deeply influenced by his pagan associations.

He believes that man has a “false self” built up through one’s life experiences and this false self is filled with guilt because of a false sense of sin and separation from God. The guilt supposedly is not real and the false self is “an illusion.” The objective of contemplative techniques is to reach beyond this false self to the true self that is sinless and guiltless and already in union with God.

This is a universalistic doctrine that denies the fall and salvation through faith in the substitutionary atonement of Christ.

Keating says:

“As we evolve toward self-identity and full self-consciousness, so grows the sense of responsibility, and hence guilt, and so grows the sense of alienation from the true self which has long ago been forgotten in the course of the early growth period. This whole process of growth normally takes place without the inner experience of the divine presence. That is the crucial source of the false self. … THERE’S NOTHING BASICALLY WRONG WITH YOU, it’s just that YOUR BASIC GOODNESS has been overlaid by emotional programs for happiness which are aimed at things other than the ultimate happiness which is your relationship with God” (Keating interview with Kate Olson, “Centering Prayer as Divine Therapy,” Trinity News, Trinity Church in the City, New York City, volume 42, issue 4, 1995).

Keating describes thoughtless meditative prayer in Hindu terms as being united with God in a mindless experience.

“Contemplative prayer is the opening of mind and heart, our whole being, to God, the Ultimate Mystery, BEYOND THOUGHTS, WORDS, AND EMOTIONS. It is a process of interior purification THAT LEADS, IF WE CONSENT, TO DIVINE UNION” (Keating interview with Kate Olson, “Centering Prayer as Divine Therapy,” Trinity News, Trinity Church in the City, New York City, volume 42, issue 4, 1995).

Keating describes centering prayer is “a journey into the unknown” (Open Mind, Open Heart, p. 72).

Keating wrote the foreword to Philip St. Romain’s strange and very dangerous book Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality (1990). Keating says, “Kundalini is an enormous energy for good,” but also admits that it can be harmful….

….He recommends that kundalini “be directed by the Holy Spirit.” He postulates that the meditative prayer practices of Catholic mystics such as Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross might have been associated with kundalini energy. Keating concludes by saying: “This book will initiate Christians on the spiritual journey into this important but long neglected dimension of the transforming power of grace.”

Kundalini is a Hindu concept that there is powerful form of psychic energy at the base of the spine that can be “awakened.” It is called the serpent, is purely occultic, and has resulted in many demonic manifestations.

[….]

Keating and the Snowmass Conference published eight “Guidelines for Interreligious Understanding,” including the following.

✦ The world religions bear witness to the experience of Ultimate reality to which they give various names: Brahman, Allah, Absolute, God, Great Spirit.

✦ Ultimate Reality cannot be limited to any name or concept.

✦ The potential for human wholeness–or in other frames of reference, enlightenment, salvation, transformation, blessedness, nirvana–is present in every human person.

✦ Prayer is communion with Ultimate Reality, whether it is regarded as personal, impersonal or beyond them both

This is blatant universalism, and it is fruit of contemplative spirituality and interfaith dialogue. 

Keating is past president of the Temple of Understanding, founded in 1960 by Juliet Hollister. The mission of this New Age organization is to “create a more just and peaceful world” by achieving “peaceful coexistence among individuals, communities, and societies.” The tools for reaching this objective are interfaith education, dialogue, mystical practices, fostering mutual appreciation and tolerance, and promotion of the contempt of global citizenship. ….


UNQUOTE


This goes a long way to show that Phileena parrots (see right) the universalist line that incorporates Eastern metaphysics into its ethos. And it should be yet ANOTHER wake up call to Biola… the question is, who is listening over there?

In another portion of a video presentation by Phileena, she mentions the types of prayers under contemplative practices, as well as giving a partial history or etymology of the practice. She forgot, however, to include that before the desert mothers and fathers the practice came first through/from India through Alexandria, to these early “mystics.”

Ray Yungen makes this point in his excellent article, “THE DESERT FATHERS – BORROWING FROM THE EAST


QUOTE


….In the early Middle Ages, there lived a group of hermits in the wilderness areas of the Middle East. They are known to history as the Desert Fathers. They dwelt in small isolated communities for the purpose of devoting their lives completely to God without distraction. The contemplative movement traces its roots back to these monks who promoted the mantra as a prayer tool. One meditation scholar made this connection when he said:

The meditation practices and rules for living of these earliest Christian monks bear strong similarity to those of their Hindu and Buddhist renunciate brethren several kingdoms to the East … the meditative techniques they adopted for finding their God suggest either a borrowing from the East or a spontaneous rediscovery.

Many of the Desert Fathers, in their zeal, were simply seeking God through trial and error. A leading contemplative prayer teacher candidly acknowledged the haphazard way the Desert Fathers acquired their practices:

...Seekers or Finders?

…Thomas Keating who teaches on centering prayer explains, “He is acquainted with eastern methods of meditation …and writes “many serious seekers of truth study the eastern religions,…”

But a Christian is no longer a seeker but a possessor of the truth – when he walks by the word of God and in the Spirit. A believer in Christ does not call himself a spiritual seeker (beginner or seasoned) they have found the truth in Jesus Christ. But this is what the emergent movement is about, they are restless not finding peace in Christ they continue their spiritual journey

(From Let Us Reason ministries)

They took him and brought him to the Areopagus, and said, “May we learn about this new teaching you’re speaking of? For what you say sounds strange to us, and we want to know what these ideas mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners residing there spent their time on nothing else but telling or hearing something new. Then Paul stood in the middle of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that you are extremely religious in every respect. For as I was passing through and observing the objects of your worship, I even found an altar on which was inscribed:

  • TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.

Therefore, what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.

(Acts 17:19-23)

It was a time of great experimentation with spiritual methods. Many different kinds of disciplines were tried, some of which are too harsh or extreme for people today. Many different methods of prayer were created and explored by them.

Attempting to reach God through occult mystical practices will guarantee disaster. The Desert Fathers of Egypt were located in a particularly dangerous locale at that time to be groping around for innovative approaches to God, because as one theologian pointed out:

[D]evelopment of Christian meditative disciplines should have begun in Egypt because much of the intellectual, philosophical, and theological basis of the practice of meditation in Christianity also comes out of the theology of Hellenic and Roman Egypt. This is significant because it was in Alexandria that Christian theology had the most contact with the various Gnostic speculations which, according to many scholars, have their roots in the East, possibly in India.

Consequently, the Desert Fathers believed as long as the desire for God was sincere–anything could be utilized to reach God. If a method worked for the Hindus to reach their gods, then Christian mantras could be used to reach Jesus. A current practitioner and promoter of the Desert Fathers’ mystical prayer still echoes the logical formulations of his mystical ancestors:

In the wider ecumenism of the Spirit being opened for us today, we need to humbly accept the learnings of particular Eastern religions … What makes a particular practice Christian is not its source, but its intent … this is important to remember in the face of those Christians who would try to impoverish our spiritual resources by too narrowly defining them. If we view the human family as one in God’s spirit, then this historical cross-fertilization is not surprising … selective attention to Eastern spiritual practices can be of great assistance to a fully embodied Christian life.

Do you catch the reasoning here? Non-Christian sources, as avenues to spiritual growth, are perfectly legitimate in the Christian life, and if Christians only practice their Christianity based on the Bible, they will actually impoverish their spirituality. This was the thinking of the Desert Fathers. So as a result, we now have contemplative prayer. Jesus addressed this when he warned His disciples: “And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions, as the heathen do.” (Matthew 6:7)

It should be apparent that mantra meditation or sacred word prayer qualifies as “vain repetition” and clearly fits an accurate description of the point Jesus was making. Yet in spite of this, trusted evangelical Christians have often pronounced that Christian mysticism is different from other forms of mysticism (such as Eastern or occult) because it is focused on Jesus Christ….


UNQUOTE


So again, to be clear, Biola is pushing a form of Eastern Metaphysics and universalism onto its student body.

How sad! Where is the adherence to the word and Jesus’ own warnings? Or does experience trump all else in Western Christianity?

The best resource in one-place on this topic is Lighthouse Trails. They have the most books, articles, and media on the matter. Apprising Ministries as well has a in-depth “category” section that helps narrow down topics and people in the movement (right hand column of their site). I recommend also my review of a book used at Biola, as well as my reasons for leaving a church after 12-years of investment (this post is a bit choppy, I apologize). Also, I recommend highly my chapter from my book on the matter as well, it is entitled “Emergen[t]Cy – Investigating Post Modernism In Evangelical Thought.”

UPDATES will appear below here and may include my thoughts to comments made about the above post from FaceBook or elsewhere (I may edit a bit my remarks to make understanding here easier):


UPDATES


M.S. mentioned the following:

  • I am a current student at Biola and have not currently nor ever experienced what this article suggests. That does not mean it does not happen, but I have not witnessed it.

I respond:

I imagine that like in most large universities there is a divide… Like in the apologetics program — I doubt this topic will come up at all, but in the Biblical counseling or psychology type classes I bet this is touched on. In fact, a pastor showed me a book he was using in the classroom there (offered to let me borrow it, I got a used copy instead). He couldn’t see anything wrong with it, so I wrote about all the “wrongs” in it for him: “A Seven Day Journey with Thomas Merton” (http://tinyurl.com/cfalael). The book wasn’t being taught — at Biola — with a critical eye or a discerning spirit… but as wholly acceptable.

Mind you, when I had this discussion I had recently left my church of twelve years for getting elbow deep into the emergent movement. I tried to hang in there for a year, had a few discussions with the pastor, whom I knew and respect still, but the last straw came when the men’s college class started using the book “Irresistible Revolution,” by Shane Claiborne, with a forward by Jim Wallace.

So while I am not on campus at Biola and am not intimate with the vibe… I can tell you that most practices of centering prayer and the like are not founded in solid Biblical practice but as Ken Kaisch (quoted by Ray Yungen — linked in my post) said:

It was a time of great experimentation with spiritual methods. Many different kinds of disciplines were tried, some of which are too harsh or extreme for people today. Many different methods of prayer were created and explored by them.

I went through to my Masters and only encountered it (this emergent influence) in my last semester of Biblical counseling. Until then it was all kosher! Even the mandatory books on the syllabus for the class were fine. But the books recommended at the bottom that were not mandatory but recommended, kicked off my four-year-long study of the issues at hand.

I am glad you haven’t encountered it as of yet ~ The Angels Smile.

But the chapel at Biola didn’t have Phileena in like they would a “Sam Harris” in or “Richard Dawkins,” someone they are clear about being un-Biblical in their view, but want to have a debate, a thesis/antithesis, or a “hey guys, we do not advocate this, but you should know about it”... type “warning.” No, this is pushed as mainstream.

QUESTION [for you] M.S. — I would be curious what your professors think about Richard Foster? Maybe over the next few months just bring him up in general conversation with folks on campus, get a vibe from them… and then message me and we will talk about it. I have noticed Foster is a good dividing line to show if people are really using the Word for doctrine and reproof, the testing of spirits (2 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 4:1). I would love to hear back from your sociological experiment.

An Updated Dallas Willard Tribute (Critique Expanded)

(JUMP TO Richard Foster’s crap!)

A fellow bibliophile passes (updated tribute).

….Because Dallas wrote on spiritual formation and taught philosophy at the University of Southern California, one might think he came from a background associated with richness of education and culture and resources. In fact, he grew up in very poor circumstances in rural Missouri. His mother died when he was two; her last words to her husband were: “Keep eternity before the children.”

Because of impoverished conditions, Dallas grew up in a circle of different families; electricity did not come until he was mostly grown up.

He read a book by Jack London once that contained a passage describing the world from an atheistic point of view. Dallas said that he’d never known books could contain such thoughts and ideas, and his mind was never quite the same after that awakening. He was nine years old at the time.

He became an insatiable reader. He attended Tennessee Temple and did graduate work at Baylor before receiving his Ph D in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and then teaching for nearly 50 years at USC, where for a time he was director of the philosophy department. His particular area of study was the philosophy of mind and logic, and he is regarded as a leading translator and authority on the work of the German phenomenologist Edmund Husserl. He was, along with scholars like William Alston and Alvin Plantinga, a significant influence in a renaissance of evangelical thinkers in contemporary academic philosophy.

His home, like his mind, was furnished mostly with books. He had a secondary library that occupied a second house; a tertiary library that filled his office at USC. After his diagnosis, a group of us packed up well over 100 boxes of books that only made it to his quaternary library in a nearby garage, books in multiple languages stretching from Homer to the present….

(Christianity Today)

Take note that while a solid believing Christian can glean some practical wisdom and life organizing skills from Dallas Willard… this same Christian should be wary of Dallas’ theological bent. Dallas was off in his theology…he was a UNIVERSALIST in the mold of other Emergent theologians:

The short video (above) gives a critical eye into some thoughts of Dr. Willard, as well as this article by Bob DeWaay. SOLA SISTERS has some good commentary to “garnish the above:

Dallas Willard and popular author John Ortberg have teamed together to create a new product being launched right now called Monvee.  What is Monvee? Monvee, which bills itself as “the future of spiritual formation,” is an online assessment tool that is used to “handcraft” a personalized plan for spiritual development for its participants.  That sounds great, except that there’s a problem.  And that problem, one of them anyway, is Dallas Willard.

Dallas Willard, for those who don’t know him, has been a darling of the evangelical world for years.  He has been a prolific writer in Christendom, churning out very popular books such as The Divine Conspiracy (Christianity Today‘s Book of the Year in 1998), The Spirit of the Disciplines, Hearing God, Renovation of the Heart, and, most recently, The Great Omission.  But Dallas Willard, though he is identified as an evangelical, is anything but orthodox in his views.  In a recent interview, Willard made these shocking statements:

“Now, I believe that everyone who deserves to be saved will be saved no matter where they are or what they do.” 

“(God) is open and in touch with everyone in the world, and for all who seek them with all of their heart—and that is defined in terms of coming to love Him, and not just have the right beliefs about Him—but coming to love Him, and loving their neighbor as themselves.”

And then on Dallas Willard’s own website, he makes this universalist statement:

“I am not going to stand in the way of anyone whom God wants to save. I am not going to say ‘he can’t save them.’ I am happy for God to save anyone he wants in any way he can.  It is possible for someone who does not know Jesus to be saved.”

In these statements, Dallas Willard – a professing Christian, might I remind you – is making the classic argument put forward by all skeptics who don’t want to believe Jesus when Jesus said these words: “I am the way, the truth and the life, no-one comes to the Father but by me.”  And that argument is this: what about the “good Buddhist” or the “good atheist?” I know that it feels good and more loving to think that God will save people, who to our eyes anyway, appear to be good, decent, moral people.  Our error comes when we view this problem with human eyes, and not with God’s eyes.  More importantly, we use our own standards for “good” to gauge a person’s “goodness” or “worthiness” rather than God’s holy standard.

[….]

So my final question is, if Dallas Willard is a Universalist, as it appears to me, where does that leave John Ortberg, his partner and co-creator of Monvee?  And what does that make Monvee…..a good thing or a bad thing?  We’ll look at that in more detail in an upcoming post.

The following [long] audios comes by way of Chris Rosbrough from PIRATE CHRISTIAN RADIO. They are — again — long, and allow the astute listener some insights into where the late Dr. Willard may have been missing the Gospel target.

But Dallas Willard is not the only person promoting some bad theology via New Age authors and books (like the below) and authors:

Dr. J.P. Moreland, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy for Biola, tells us in his 2007 book Kingdom Triangle that “spiritual formation should be studied…and insights gained should be implemented.” Then among the four books he would “invest” himself in “absorbing” is “Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline [which] has earned the title of a contemporary classic” (157).

Reformed theologian J.I. Packer says in the foreword of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, by Donald Whitney, said: “Ever since Richard Foster rang the bell with his Celebration of Discipline (1978), discussing the various disciplines has become a staple element of conservative Christian in-talk in North America. This is a happy thing” (9, emphasis mine).

(source)

I will explain why anyone recommending this work is either ignorant of it’s contents, or theologically soft on cults and the occult. Celebration of Discipline is a New Age book, here are some scans of a couple worrisome parts (CLICK TO ENLARGE IN ANOTHER TAB). Here are pages 27 through 28 from Richard Foster’s book:

And page 170 from the 1st printing (this was changed in later printings):

An Introduction to Apologetics w/ Small Critique of Beth Moore

This will be a very basic introduction to why many — like myself — believe apologetics to be very important in the believers life. A “WHY APOLOGETICS 101,” so-to-speak.

What is the word “apologetic” even mean? How do we defining the word, Biblically. Apologetics is explaining to the non-believing friends, co-workers, family, the soundness of the Christian collection of beliefs about life and the universe in easy to express ways that allows co-operation of our created will and intellect with the Holy Spirit in evangelizing those around us. We are not robots under God’s divine hand (automatons) but individuals whom God works through keeping our personality intact in sharing the Gospel effectively and showing how Christianity stands in stark contrast to competing beliefs around us. The non-believer is not expected to interpret the data of history, psychology, and morality (let alone theology and miracles), as does the Christian. However, he must be given such data as the Christian interprets it… Otherwise he is not being witnessed to by a Christian.

1 Peter 3:15 – “… and always be ready to give a defense [or answer in some translations] to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Defense/Answer: is the Greek apologia, from which we get our word “apologetics,” meaning the careful, logical defense of the Christian faith showing its validity as the true saving gospel of God, our Creator and Savior. In effect Peter is admonishing believers to be always prepared to give an apologetic for the faith, especially when confronted by those who deny it and would destroy it if they could.

Jude 3 – “although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” Contend: Should be “earnestly contend.” The Greek, epagonizomai, refers to athletes intensely agonizing in the grueling training for a coming contest. Thus Jude graphically stresses the urgency of defending the faith. The defense of the gospel is no indifferent matter to be left to a few specialists, but one to which all believers should be trained and committed.

Philippians 1:7 – “…whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.” Defending: A legal term referring to a formal defense as in a courtroom. Many modern evangelicals think the gospel does not need to be defended — just preached. Paul and Timothy are saying different here.

For instance, apologetics should stir ones knowledge base about their own faith and understanding towards positions Christianity naturally takes. Or, what are known as “truth statements,” i.e., “Jesus rose from the grave,” “God exists,” “God changed my life,” “Jesus is not like the Buddha,” “God is creator,” and the like. People often times will stop you at one of those points and ask you to elucidate. You should be prepared to.

“I suspect that most of the individuals who have religious faith are content with blind faith. They feel no obligation to understand what they believe. They may even wish not to have their beliefs disturbed by thought. But if God in whom they believe created them with intellectual and rational powers that impose upon them the duty to try to understand the creed of their religion. Not to do so is to verge on superstition”

Morimer J. Adler, “A Philosopher’s Religious Faith,” in, Kelly James Clark, ed., Philosophers Who Believe: The Spiritual Journeys of 11 Leading Thinkers (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 207.

Apologetics is one of the steps one takes (should take) in advancing their faith past milk by increases one’s “awareness” about the world in which they live and parts of it we should separate ourselves from. This includes as well aberrant thinking in our own camp.

“Instead of thinking of Christianity as a collection of theological bits and pieces to be believed or debated, we should approach our faith as a conceptual system, as a total world-and-life view…. Raising one’s self-consciousness [awareness] about worldviews is an essential part of intellectual maturity”

Ronald H. Nash, Worldviews in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992], 19, 9.

1) Apologetics helps with correct belief (truth) and in this regard is very important:

Believers may not fully comprehend or may have genuine misunderstandings or even limited exposure to and about Christian truth, but there are doctrinal parameters outside of which a person cannot cross without suffering apostasy and divine judgment. Embracing a false Christ and/or a false’ gospel leads to dire consequences. Paul’s warning to the Galatia church concerning a different gospel dramatically underscores the importance of sound (biblical) doctrine: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! (Galatians 1:8)

2) Christianity as a truth position, a worldview, necessitates an apologetic response:

Christian apologists must take the religions of the world seriously. The effective apologist will come to know other religions and their adherents with an insider’s mastery. Only then can he or she graciously expose a given religion’s flaws in light of essential Christian truth. Not an easy task for the apologist for sure, however, a well-done expose can have a powerful effect. This endeavor seems to be what Scripture calls for in terms of the apologetics enterprise. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

3) Apologetics offers People, deservedly, the proper respect:

As creatures of God, all people bear the imago Dei and therefore have inherent dignity and moral worth. Every person consequently deserves respectful treatment regardless of race, sex, social class, political, or religious belief. Christians are called by God to guard the individual right of others to believe what they choose, whether their particular beliefs are wrong, absurd, or contrary to Christian truth. This regard basically amounts to respecting human personhood, volition, and individual moral responsibility. Christians should even tolerate the practices (religious and otherwise) of others, so long as those practices are legal, moral, and prudential. However, respecting another person’s beliefs must not be misconstrued as approving those beliefs. Christians are responsible to use their powers of persuasion to convince others of truth, especially the ultimate truth of, Jesus Christ. While being socially tolerant, Christians must at the same time be intellectually intolerant of conflicting truth claims.

(#s 1-3 are from: Kenneth Richard Samples, Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2004], 178-180)

Ravi Zacharias tells a story that is worth repeating, it is called “The Bell Tower”:

There’s a story of a man who used to go to work at a factory and every day would stop outside a clockmaker’s store to synchronize his watch with the clock outside. Seeing this routine, the clockmaker finally asked the gentleman, “Excuse me, sir, I see that every day you stop and adjust your watch with my clock. What kind of work do you do?” The man replied, “I’m embarrassed to tell you this, but, I keep the time at the factory nearby, and I have to ring the bell at four o clock every afternoon when it is time for the people to go home. My watch doesn’t work very well, so I synchronize it with your clock.” The clockmaker sheepishly responded, “I’ve got bad news for you. My clock doesn’t work very well either, so I synchronize it with the bell that I hear from the factory at 4:00 every afternoon.” …. Even a clock that doesn’t work may show you the right time twice a day…but it’s not because it’s keeping time.

Adapted from Ravi Zacharias, “Address to the United Nations’ Prayer Breakfast.”

Apologetics is analogous to wearing a pair of glasses:

The right eyeglasses can put the world into clearer focus, and the correct worldview can function in much the same way. When someone looks at the world from the perspective of the wrong worldview, the world won’t make much sense to him. Or what he thinks makes sense will, in fact, be wrong in important respects. Putting on the right conceptual scheme, that is, viewing the world through the correct worldview, can have important repercussions for the rest of the person’s understanding of events and ideas.

Ronald H. Nash, Worldviews in Conflict: Choosing Christianity in a World of Ideas (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992), 17-18.

Below is a wonderful graphic of what the person seeking to use and learn apologetics properly should look like. It is from the first chapter in a book I am currently reading and it has helped me to understand the delineations  (or sub categories) to a healthy, well-balanced study of apologetics. Gregory Ganssle, in the before-mentioned book (Come Let us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics, by-the-by, this is not a good introductory book on apologetics… it is a bit technical), points out the areas of study one might find him or herself in the “theological theme” (tt) of the pyramid:

… This angle [tt] includes a variety of topics, such as the scope of common grace, the nature of general revelation, and the effects of our sinful condition on our reasoning.

Exploring these topics theologically helps us develop a realistic understanding of what we ought to expect in our encounters with those who are not yet believers. Theological themes, then, are relevant to our thinking well about apologetics.

UntitleTriangle Apologetics

As one enters into studies on topics like these, red flags may appear in your reading general books by Christian authors. Does this mean you shouldn’t read these books or get information from such people. Not necessarily. It really depends how far they twist major doctrines of the Gospel [Bible]. For instance, would I tell a person (like my wife for instance) not to read Beth Moore? Of course not. I would however, as the spiritual leader of my household, explain some of my “red-flags” I encountered in reading her stuff and mention that an author highly recommended by her is a person I WOULD  NOT read. (That being said, as I learn more about what is aberrant, I find my reading of these books has increased for my own personal apologetic studies, not as books that I incorporate into my walk.)

To better explain myself, here is the small portion that sent a red-flag up for me and is found near the end of Beth’s book, When Godly People Do Ungodly Things (p. 290):


BETH MOORE


So the question is, 1) who is BRENNAN MANNING that so influenced Beth Moore to have evoked her to [highly] recommend his book, RAGAMUFFIN GOSPEL? and 2) where does he fall on the major doctrines we hold so dear to? This is where a decent study of theology comes in and should make aberrant teaching smoother to spot. I wish to allow Dr. Norman Geisler to lead off a quick summation of some of the doctrines the postmodern movement Mr. Manning finds himself in the thralls of:

Pastor GARY GILLEY, after bullet pointing some of the problems in Manning’s book introduced to many people through Moore’s book, says this:

Add all of this up and we have a book that makes some good points, especially about God’s grace, but distorts so much about God and truth as to render it worse than useless—it is downright dangerous.

[…here are the bullet points that preceded the above…]

✦ The sources for his philosophy of life range from Catholic mystics to Paul Tillich to Norman Mailer to Carl Jung.

✦ His use of Scripture is scanty but when he attempts to support his views from the Bible he usually goes astray (e. g. pp. 37, 142, 166-7, 220).

✦ He confuses “loving sinners” with “accepting their sin” (p. 33) and believes that forgiveness precedes repentance (pp. 74, 167, 181). This leads to continuous hints of universalism (pp. 21, 29, 31, 33, 37, 74, 223, 232) although he never directly claims to be a universalist.

✦ He is heavily soaked in pop-psychology which taints all he says: accepting self (pp. 49, 152, 229); self-intimacy (p. 49); loving ourselves (pp. 50, 168); inner child (p. 64); forgiving yourself (p. 115); self-image (pp. 147-148); self-worth (p. 148).

✦ He accepts a postmodern worldview and calls for us to be open-minded about truth, reality and Christ (p. 65).

✦ He consistently presents a lopsided view of God. God is loving and forgiving but never a judge, disciplinarian or punisher (p. 75), contrary to the clear teaching of Scripture.

✦ God is not man’s enemy, contrary to Romans 5 that says we are the enemy of God if we are not saved (p. 76).

✦ We are told that God does not test us or promote pain (p. 76).

✦ He believes that God speaks today outside of Scripture (pp. 94, 117, 186-187, 229) and that the presence of God is a felt experience that we should seek (pp. 45, 46, 94, 162, 229).

(READ MORE — empahis added)

This short critique (above) by a pastor should send up some warning flares and stir in us an apologetics bent to understand more how these associations can lead a weak Christian astray. For instance, let us “rabbit trail” some positions of this Catholic mystic. Manning recommends highly and even quotes the mystic/New Ager, Beatrice Bruteau in one of his books:

See:

In Abba’s Child, Brennan Manning says that Dr. Beatrice Bruteau is a”trustworthy guide to contemplative consciousness.” Who is Beatrice Bruteau and what does she believe? She is the founder of The School for Contemplation, and she believes God is within every human being. She wrote the book, What We Can Learn from the East,

“We have realized ourselves as the Self that says only I AM, with no predicate following, not “I am a this” or “I have that quality.” Only unlimited, absolute I AM” [A Song That Goes On SingingInterview with B.B., one can read the entire section under “Human Choice” to understand just how New Age Beatrice is].

(Source)

“I AM,” of course, is one of the biblical names of God (EXODUS 3:14). Why would Manning recommend Bruteau with no warning if he does not agree with this blasphemy?

This isn’t “guilt by association” — so one knows the difference — it is “guilt by proxy.” A much more powerful legal term.

In The Signature of Jesus, Manning gives this quote from the mystic Catholic priest William Shannon and the Catholic Buddhist Thomas Merton:

“During a conference on contemplative prayer, the question was put to Thomas Merton: ‘How can we best help people to attain union with God?’ His answer was very clear: WE MUST TELL THEM THAT THEY ARE ALREADY UNITED WITH GOD. CONTEMPLATIVE PRAYER IS NOTHING OTHER THAN COMING INTO CONSCIOUSNESS OF WHAT IS ALREADY THERE” (p. 218).

Merton was a Trappist monk who promoted the integration of Zen Buddhism and Christianity. The titles of some of his books are “Zen and the Birds of the Appetite” and “Mystics and the Zen Masters.” He is of course famous for saying, “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity … I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.” I CRITIQUED MERTON because of an associate pastor at a local Bible centered church (in Castaic) saying he loved Merton. Mentioning that his professor at Biola was using a book in class that he didn’t find anything wrong with.Very sad and maddening at the same time. Simple care in learning our doctrines in fun ways (evangelism) can be a big help in leading us away from heresy. (Video in case it drops off YouTube: “Brennan Manning Explains His Emergent View of the Christian Faith”)

As with many such teachers who gain popularity by tickling ears, Manning overemphasizes the love and grace of God while ignoring His attributes of justice, righteousness and holiness. He teaches that Jesus has redeemed all of mankind. His “good news” is that everyone is already saved. Manning quotes David Steindl-Rast approvingly in his book, The Signature of Jesus (pp. 210, 213-214). Steindl-Rast, a contemplative Roman Catholic priest, said:

“Envision the great religious traditions arranged on the circumference of a circle. At their mystical core they all say the same thing, but with different emphasis”

(“Heroic Virtue,” Gnosis, Summer 1992).

Manning quotes Matthew Fox approvingly in two of his books, Lion and Lamb (p. 135) and A Stranger to Self Hatred (pp. 113, 124). Fox says:

“God is a great underground river, and there are many wells into that river. There’s a Taoist well, a Buddhist well, a Jewish well, a Muslim well, a Christian well, a Goddess well, the Native wells-many wells that humans have dug to get into that river, but friends, there’s only one river; the living waters of wisdom”

Quoted from John Caddock, “What Is Contemplative Spirituality,” Journal of the Grace Evangelical Society, Autumn 1997.

Even Manning’s approach to prayer is aberrant. In The Signature of Jesus Manning promotes the dangerous practice of centering prayer, which involves chanting “a sacred word” to empty the mind and allegedly enter into silent experiential communion with God within:

“[T]he first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer. … enter into the great silence of God. Alone in that silence, the noise within will subside and the Voice of Love will be heard. … Choose a single, sacred word repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly, and often” (pp. 212, 215, 218).

This is a New Age/Eastern concept of prayer.

Not a Christian concept of it.

So where does this example leave us? It leaves us at a couple of places. Some of the critique I use above comes from a book that I would recommend to a friend/believer, but with a caveat. The author can be very legalistic and I would point out that some aspects of how the author applies their understanding of the Gospel is dealt with in Galatians (maybe mentioning Luther’s commentary on Galatians as a resource to better grasp this concept of the freedom we have in Christ). The book is Contemplative Mysticism: A Powerful Ecumenical Bond, by David Cloud.

Likewise, I am sure the believer who is well moored in the foundational beliefs and how they work themselves throughout our culture can read Beth Moore and glean from it helpful input into one’s faith. Should it be at the top of a recommend list for one God fearing woman to recommend to another, no. Can it be of benefit as a resource for a woman struggling with issues, of course, as long as the person doing the recommending adds a cautionary note. Like I did with my recommended resource.

Dear friends, I’ve dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish. What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license—which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master. (JUDE 3-4, The Message)

As one studies all the facets of apologetics, rabbit trails will appear, but in them all remember a key thing, harkening back to Dr. Ganssle when he mentioned that our sinful condition has even effected our reasoning skills. Building on that take note that even if we have thought through a matter, worked on it, got it to line up with orthodoxy and have sound reasoning… often times our intentions in presenting it as well as the delivery and how the other corrupted person hears it are all at play. Which is why we say the Holy Spirit must be the Prime Mover at the deepest levels for a person to be moved by a truth, by thee Truth. Quoting Dr. Ganssle again:

Each one of the three angles or themes concerning apologetics is legitimate and fruitful. Each is worthy of careful study. Despite this fact, there are two trends I wish to point out First, most of the thinking about apologetics has been on the academic themes. While this weight of attention is not in itself a bad thing, it may allow us to forget the other angles of apologetics. Second most of the criticisms of the usefulness of apologetics find there root in confusing the academic angle of apologetics with the entirety of the apologetic enterprise. Those of us who work in the academic angle bear much of the blame for this confusion. Sometimes we are overzealous about the strength of our arguments or how interesting they ought to be to nonbelievers. [This includes discussions with fellow Christians and topics.] Sometimes we neglect the large distinction between arguments that are technically strong and those that might be persuasive to a given person. Sometimes we neglect the missional themes in the apologetic task and thereby reinforce the notion that coming to believe that Christianity is factually true is the main task in our witness. By articulating the importance of the missional angle, as well as of the theological angle, we can defuse many criticisms of apologetics. (emphasis and addition in box quotes mine.)

I hope this short introduction to apologetics was and is helpful. There are three books I highly recommend as great starter points to both understanding the importance of apologetics as well as seeing the differing models of thinking in the world compared. These three resources are technical enough to invigorate the thinker as well as great introductions to the subject accessible to the layman.

  1. Unshakable Foundations: Contemporary Answers to Crucial Questions about the Christian Faith;
  2. Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists;
  3. Holman QuickSource Guide to Understanding Apologetics (Holman Quicksource Guides)

Sweat Lodge Altered by New Age Equals Death

(Videos updated 2019)

An update on the cult associated somewhat with Oprah Winfrey (who is very much involved in the New Age) from Religion News Blog:

Jurors in the manslaughter trial of James Arthur Ray have heard the complete briefing the self-help author gave to dozens of people before they entered a northern Arizona sweat lodge ceremony he conducted, AP reports.

Prosecutors had earlier played snippets of the recording, but defense attorneys contended the snippets had been presented out of context.

CNN says:

In the recording, Ray told participant, who paid up to $10,000 each to attend the event, that as “true spiritual warriors” and their “altered state” they would endure heat so intense it would make it feel like their skins was coming off of their bodies.

“I will be right there with you,” he said.

“You will have to get to a point where you surrender to death,” Ray said. “When you are going into the lodge symbolically you are going back into the womb of mother earth.”

“It is such a great metaphor ” the author said. “My body dies but I never die.”

Prosecutors maintain Ray psychologically pressured participants to remain in the lodge even when they weren’t feeling well, contributing to their deaths.

Conversation Series: Cults from the 70’s

(Originally posted at my old blog July 26, 2007)

During conversation the other day with a customer at Whole Foods, it was revealed that this person was, is, enamored with a “hippie movement” from the late 60’s (some say 68′, others 69′) that was situated for many years in the Seattle Washington area. The group is commonly called Love Israel, named after its founder… who’s real name is Paul Erdman. But this “organization” has gone by a few names: Jordan Village Farms, Love Is Real Family Inc., Love Family, Church of Jesus Christ at Armageddon, Church of Armageddon.

Is It a Cult Though? (click to see)

Israel Love’s (Paul Erdman) followers renamed themselves in like fashion, for example: Patience Israel, Serious Israel, Charity Israel, Abishai Israel, Honesty Israel, on-and-on. With “love” being the central tenant, this New Age cult – like most others – quickly fell into drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, family’s torn apart, bankruptcy, mind-control tactics, and yes… even death. In fact, Erdman’s sexual activities were the subject of much scandal, not to mention the fact that he fathered a dozen or more children with many different women. One dispute after another involved the group in various legal battles, which included zoning and housing violations. All this combined with the many lawsuits from families of cult members led to a mass egression in the mid-eighties of most of its followers. (The lawsuits were mainly to get back savings accounts, property and possessions back after they ere “donated” to Paul Erdmann.)

Revelations

This movement got its start with revelation Paul Erdman received that indicated that he represented the authentic message of the New Testament. Thus, he and his followers felt they were the “true” Christians as well as the “true” Israelites. Old Testament dietary laws were incorporated into this group’s lifestyle while at the same time Old Testament restrictions on “altered states of consciousness” were ignored. Speaking of which, altered states of consciousness were reached by ritualized inhaling of the vapors from an industrial solvent called toluene. Paul Erdman taught that inhaling these vapors was a religious ritual that his members must follow. Follow, that is, until two members died from it in 1972; at which time this practice was “stopped.” I say “stopped” because the group continued to use hyperventilation, hallucinogens and marijuana as aids to altering consciousness. Reportedly all members of the group had visions, dreams, and revelations that explained their purpose on earth. Duh! You could include most of the “Orange Sunshine” consuming hippies in this “revelational” category. Cocaine, of course, later became the drug of choice for Paul Erdman. Shortly after the egression of about 350-or-so people in 1983, the Church of Armageddon was officially disbanded in 1985. While officially disbanded, a small core of people still follow the religious leader Love Israel. Recently Brotherhood Israel sold ecstasy to two undercover agents reconfirming the addiction to drugs this cult has.

Hollywood Connections

As with other cults of the day (Manson Family for instance), the Church of Armageddon had its own connection to Hollywood. The son of the father of talk television, Steve Allen, was part of this group for some time which prompted Steve Allen to write a book on the subject. The book is entitled Beloved Son: A Story of the Jesus Cults, and is currently out of print (I have a copy of course) and should be considered a dated read, however, it is still “chalked full of nuts,” literally!

The Communal 60’s and 70’s

The hippie movement of the sixties produced a mix of Marxian communal living arrangements with a dash of Christianity and New Age (Eastern) thinking thrown in for authority in edicts and lifestyles. Groups such as At Twin Oaks (Virginia), East Wind (Missouri), Ganas (New York), The Farm, and the like popped up all over the place.

Marriage

Similar to these groups the followers do not marry each other with the classical understanding of the monogamous relationship, but considered themselves married to each other in the universal marriage of Jesus Christ and are not bound by “worldly traditions” of matrimony. Love Israel and other leaders had the prerogative (still does, just with fewer people) of permitting couples temporary bonding for the purpose of having children. The humorous question is has thinking spread to the modern left of today? The Church of Armageddon got its name from Revelation 16:16 where Armageddon is mentioned as the gathering place of the end-time.

(1977 “Love” Passover)

Positive Aspects?

Of course. Nothing is purely negative. The group farmed and fished and they developed a free restaurant and a 24-hour inn where guests were housed and fed at no charge. Members distributed food from their farms and fishing boats to needy neighbors. But the good is outweighed by the bad theology, brainwashing, and fear tactics.

Bankrupt! (2003 article By Jennifer Langston)

No longer in the “Queen Ann” area of Seattle, likewise no longer in Arlington, the cult has had to move after declaring chapter 11 bankruptcy. Something ironic since the “Church” rejected worldly laws and governing bodies. The few members (about 30) have moved due to this bankruptcy, selling its spiritual center to a Jewish organization in late 2003. They then moved to the Canadian border and at last report had fewer than 50 members. The Love Israel Family has set up tents along 52 acres near China Bend, a scenic river bench about 10 miles south of the U.S.-Canadian border in Stevens County.

Interesting Factoid

Because of the growth of the many cults during this time, there were many kidnappings and deprogramming done. Family members would pay for the cult member to be kidnapped and then have cult-deprogrammers talk these people through what constitutes the movement as a cult and try to deprogram the influence of the movement on this individual. The first taken from the Love Family was Cathy Crampton. Cathy’s parents allowed CBS to film the kidnapping and deprogramming, which was ultimately unsuccessful. Exit counseling got its start in these times, and many great books and insights have come from the study of brainwashing since.

Modern Day Thinking

Of course, in our Politically Correct environment, all opinions and actions are considered equal in weight and judgment. What is true for you may not be for me! Who are you to say I am wrong in my choice? There are no absolute moral laws. Moral choices are decided by the individual or by society and are not subject to intervention by you… if you do you are considered intolerant. This type of thinking will create more cults and more people who will unite and I am sure in the future we will hear of it. We will hear of the punch being drunk to catch a ride on a comet or to leave this horrible life for a better one. The more the West steps away from the Judeo-Christian-Grecian culture, the less rational and logical thinking will be applied to peoples personal lives. Thus, relativism will “seize the day.”

The below is from STEVE HASSAN’S SITE:

Description:

Founded by Paul Erdman, aka “Love Israel” in 1968 in Seattle, Washington. Purports to be fulfilling the vision of Jesus Christ on Earth by working toward a vision of a community that is committed to “love” one another and forgive one another.

Reached zenith of membership in the mid-80’s with nearly 400 members. Dissolution of the majority of the group came about when families of members sued for return of property turned over to the family and allegations of monetary and property mis-management occurred.

The remaining members moved to a 290 acre ranch near Arlington, Washington. During the 90’s the leader and his lead “elder” Serious have formed multiple “corporations”, one of which is The Love Is Real Family, Inc., reportedly a non-profit corporation. Additionally, Serious is the registered agent for: The Jordan Village Corp., The Golden Triangle Development, Inc., The Bistro, Inc., and The Love Is Real Family, Inc. The Bistro is a restaurant concern in Arlington, Washington, reportedly owned and operated by the family. Also reported in the Seattle Times is a evening coffee club called the Compassion Cafe. Members confirm that this is a Family concern but at this point I’ve been unable to obtain documentation to confirm this connection.

I. Behaviors

Great cultural pressure to adhere to group’s norms of dress, styles, manner of talking.

Communal living idealism, so food is regulated by the core group. Key members of the group do not go without food or sufficient provisions. Out of favor members tend not to be taken care of as well or poorly.

Early morning meetings are de riguer and the lifestyle encourages late evenings as well, therefore, not much sleep occurs.

Members are encouraged to contribute all to the family upon joining. Households are reportedly self-sufficient, but must contribute (as of 10/00) 1/3 of their income to Love so that the payments on the property may be made.

Leisure activities of the members revolve around the family actitivies. Love Israel frequently takes trips around the world, particularly Europe. Lesser members never, if ever, travel.

Must always ask permission to make major decisions. Marriages must be “sanctioned” Otherwise, less formal couplings are neither discouraged nor encouraged, although couples are encouraged to experiment outside their union.

Morning “prayer” meetings are often used for getting to what people think/feel.

If you are in favor, you get more food, greater benefits, more freedom. Out of favor and you get job assignments that aren’t as welcome… punishments, group pressure, etc.

There are many rigid rules and regulations. Dependency is wrought first by financial dependency developing into emotional dependency and “learned helplessness.

Perhaps the only real autonomous people there are Love Israel and Serious Israel.

II. Information

Leaders decide who needs to know what. Likely only Love Israel, Serious and their most trusted companions know key areas of the business dealings of the two men.

III. Thought

Must internalize the group’s truth as truth

Loaded language techniques are rampant.

No critical questions about Love, his doctrine or his policies are legitimate. You are a traitor if you question him.

IV. Emotional

Excessive use of fear. Many of the people who have been there for 20 or so years have developed such an indoctrination to the culture that living outside the “family” has become extremely difficult.

(Wiki Source for Photo)

References and Sites Used For This Bio

Websites used:

Some books I used: