Emerging Church/New Spirituality: Part 5 (Mysticism)

The New spirituality, the Emerging Church and Mysticism

The dictionary says mysticism is related to experience – either an experience related to religious mysteries or occult practices.  By definition, mystical knowledge cannot be directly written down or spoken of, but must be experienced.  One dictionary describes it as an ‘immediate consciousness of the transcendent, or ultimate reality, or God.’  So a mystic is a person who has a mystical experience.  Essentially, it’s based in experience, not in a belief system.

We're not opposed to mysticism per se.  We want genuine mystical experiences initiated by God.  Examples of these can be found throughout the Bible.  Experiencing God’s presence as the indwelling Holy Spirit or in the act of worship or as his felt and tangible presence or when angels are present can be very rewarding and up-building.

However, what should cause us concern, we believe, are mystical experiences that are man-made and self-induced; those achieved through techniques borrowed from Eastern mysticism and the occult.  These have found their way into the practice of the New Spirituality, the liberal Emerging Church and even parts of mainstream evangelicalism.

This has come into the Church largely through what is known as Contemplative Prayer although so-called Christian yoga and holistic health, including Reiki healing, also feature.  These practices, borrowed from Eastern mysticism and the occult, are right up there with Postmodernism in terms of shaping and defining the New Spirituality and the liberal Emerging Church.

We would suggest that this practice and the fruit of it, is the doorway through which the liberal leading edge of the Emerging Church has walked and found acceptance within the fold of the New Spirituality.  It’s the chain that binds them as one.

Contemplative Prayer

The dictionary defines a contemplative as one who practices contemplation and to contemplate means to ponder or to meditate upon.  The scriptures encourage us to meditate on Jesus or on the word of God; so clearly there is nothing wrong with that.  So is there anything wrong with so-called Contemplative Prayer?  Brennan Manning in his book ‘The Signature of Jesus,’ provides an answer which suggests there is:

Grabbing a hold of God is the goal of contemplative prayer.  That is why the first step in faith is to stop thinking about God at the time of prayer.

He goes on to say:

Contemplative spirituality tends to emphasize the need for a change in consciousness… we must come to see reality differently…. Choose a single, sacred word… repeat the sacred word inwardly, slowly and often…. Enter into the great silence of God.  Alone in that silence, the noise within will subside and the Voice of Love will be heard.

This is an example of the liberal Emerging Church using the same words as we do, but they invest them with different meanings.

The Eastern mystics call the repeated word a ‘mantra.’  This word comes from Hinduism and means a sacred verbal formula repeated in prayer, meditation, or incantation, such as an invocation of a god, a magic spell, or a syllable or portion of scripture containing mystical potentialities.

The idea is to repeat the word until it becomes meaningless and your mind becomes empty and you enter the so-called silence.  Richard Foster in his book ‘Celebration of Discipline,’ says:

Christian meditation is an attempt to empty the mind in order to fill it.

Another practitioner, quoted by Ray Yungen in his book ‘A Time of Departing,’ puts it like this:

When one enters the deeper layers of contemplative prayer one sooner or later experiences the void, the emptiness, the nothingness . . . the profound mystical silence . . . an absence of thought.

Contemplative Prayer, then, induces an experience where there is a shift in one’s identity from one’s body, beliefs, thoughts, feelings and behaviour to a different level of awareness or consciousness.  Anthony de Mello in his book ‘Sadhana: A Way to God,’ says:

To silence the mind is an extremely difficult task.  How hard it is to keep the mind from thinking, thinking, thinking, forever thinking, forever producing thoughts in a never ending stream.  Our Hindu masters in India have a saying: one thorn is removed by another.

By this they mean that you will be wise to use one thought to rid yourself of all the other thoughts that crowd into your mind.  One thought, one image, one phrase or sentence or word that your mind can be made to fasten on.

This practice eventually leads to an altered state of consciousness - a brain state wherein one loses the sense of identity with one's body or with one's normal sense perceptions.  The mantra stops the free flow of thinking, holds back active thought and causes a shift in consciousness.

Instead of the mantra some people use breath prayers to the same effect.  The purpose of emptying the mind is not ultimately to have nothing there; rather it is to make room in the mind for something new, something unexpected to come in.

The goal of Contemplative Prayer therefore is to bind the mind with a word or phrase in order to induce a mystical trance-like state.  Mystics claim that their ability to enter this altered state of consciousness brings them enlightenment.  Colin Wilson in his book ‘Beyond the Occult,’ describes three different peoples’ experiences at this point:

The boundary between my physical self and my surroundings seemed to dissolve and my feeling of separation vanished . . . I felt as if I had suddenly come alive for the first time - as if I were awakening from a long deep sleep into the real world.

I saw that the universe is not composed of dead matter, but is, on the contrary, a living Presence; I became conscious in myself of eternal life.  It was not a conviction that I would have eternal life, but a consciousness that I possessed eternal life then; I saw that all men are immortal.

I seemed to comprehend the nature of things.  I understood that the scheme of the universe was good, not evil as our Western society had taught me as a child; all people were intrinsically good.  Neither time nor space existed on this plane.

The same experience incidentally can be produced through the use of hallucinatory drugs, such as LSD.  New Age mystics tell us that this practice puts them in touch with their spirit guides.  Eastern mystics tell us it puts them in touch with their own higher self – their own divinity.  Former occultist Matt Slick (Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry) says:

Before I became a Christian I was involved in the occult.  One of the practices I would undergo when trying to contact the spiritual realm and/or trying to receive some mystical experience would be to empty my mind, remain motionless, and completely open myself up to receive whatever would come.

Essentially, I was seeking an altered state of consciousness and contact with the spiritual world.  This is one of the hallmarks of occultic practices and it opens the person to demonic contact.

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, this is what he said:

And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words . . . This, then, is how you should pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matt 6:7-10 (part))

He urged us to engage both mind and will - not empty our minds.

The Emerging Church’s endorsement

Here is some evidence to back up the claim that the liberal edge of the Emerging Church are indeed pursuing mysticism, including Contemplative Prayer, yoga and various forms of healing.  Eddie Gibbs and Ryan Bolger in their foundational book, ‘Emerging Churches,’ say:

A move away from intellectual Christianity is essential.  We must move to the mystical.

Tony Jones, quoted by Ray Yungen on his website www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com says:

Propositional truth is out and mysticism is in.

Frank Viola in his book, ‘Will the Emerging Church Fully Emerge?’ says:

The emerging church phenomenon has re-ignited a healthy interest in the Christian mystics who emphasized spiritual encounter over against mere academic knowledge of God and the Bible.

Duane Cottrell, quoted by Ray Yungen on his website www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com says:

The fact is that contemplative spirituality will play a huge part in the Church of the future.

Dan Kimball in his book ‘Vintage Faith,’ says:

Meditative prayer like that we experienced in the labyrinth resonates with hearts of emerging generations.

Rob Bell, in a sermon on ‘Breathing,’ said:

(In Yoga) it's not how flexible you are . . . it's can you keep your breath consistent through whatever you are doing.  And the Yoga Masters say this is how it is when you follow Jesus and surrender to God.

Doug Pagitt, in an interview, said:

Yoga can be a positive thing in our lives.

Bruce Epperly (friend of Doug Pagitt and guest on his radio show) says on his website:

By training, I am a theologian, spiritual guide, minister, and Reiki master/teacher.  I want to support your journey through my books, Reiki teaching, and talks, retreats, and consultations.

Below is some evidence to show that this interest has either come from Eastern mysticism or an interest in the Desert Fathers and medieval or contemporary Catholic mystics.  Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, Henri Nouwen, Basil Pennington, Matthew Fox, Richard Foster, Brennan Manning, M Scott Peck, amongst others, follow in the steps of pre and post-Reformation Catholic mystics (Julian of Norwich, John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, etc) and find inspiration in the lives and practices of the Desert Fathers - hermits, ascetics, monks and nuns who lived mainly in the deserts of Egypt beginning around the third century AD (Anthony, Paul of Thebes, Pachomius, John Chrysostom, John Cassian, etc) and practise technique-driven meditation and contemplative prayer.

When we think about meditation and contemplation we need to understand that these mystics are talking about achieving altered states of consciousness, something very different to what we would mean by these terms.

The Desert Fathers were considered to be devout men and women and yet they brought mysticism into the church.  It would appear that some of them adopted techniques from Hinduism in an effort to have a deeper spiritual experience.  They blurred the lines between Eastern spirituality and Christianity in their desire for deeper interaction with God.  They repeated mantras (repeated words or sounds) to help them empty their minds in order to achieve an altered state of consciousness where they could get in touch with a supernatural force or power – variously referred to as ‘God,’ ‘spirit guide,’ ‘the divine within,’ or ‘the higher self.’

Ken Kaisch, in his book ‘Finding God,’ says:

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.

Modern-day mystics have been encouraging mainstream Christianity to embrace technique driven meditation and contemplative prayer for the past half century and today those practicing these techniques can be found in every Christian stream and denomination.  Sadly, as we shall show, they too are drinking from the same Eastern well.

Spencer Burke (The Ooze) following a three day silent retreat with mystic, universalist Brennan Manning, says:

Shortly afterward, I stopped reading from the approved evangelical reading list and began to distance myself from the evangelical agenda.  I discovered new authors and new voices at the bookstore - Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen and St. Teresa of Avila.  The more I read, the more intrigued I became.

Contemplative spirituality seemed to open up a whole new way for me to understand and experience God.  I was deeply moved by works like The Cloud of Unknowing, The Dark Night of the Soul and the Early Writings of the Desert Fathers.

Brian McLaren, in his book, ‘A Generous Orthodoxy,’ says:

I discovered other Roman Catholic writers – twentieth-century writers such as Flannery O’Connor, Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen . . . as well as the medieval mystics and others.

Rob Bell, in his book ‘Velvet Elvis’ in the ‘Endnotes’ section, recommends Ken Wilber:

For a mind-blowing introduction to emergence theory and divine creativity, set aside three months and read Ken Wilber’s ‘A Brief History of Everything.

That is a noteworthy endorsement.  Yet he’s talking about a man who was raised in a conservative Christian church, but had lost his faith to become a Buddhist mystic and a leading light in the New Age movement.

On his website Wilber discusses in a positive vein several activities he suggests one can practise: Zen, Centering Prayer, Kabala (Jewish mysticism), Transcendental Meditation, Tantric (Hindu based sexuality) and Kundalini Yoga (accessing serpent power).

Leonard Sweet also endorses Wilber and calls him a ‘New Light’ teacher.  In his book ‘Quantum Spirituality,’ he says this about mysticism:

Mysticism, once cast to the sidelines of the Christian tradition, is now situated in postmodernist culture near the centre.... In the words of one of the greatest theologians of the twentieth century, Jesuit philosopher of religion/dogmatist Karl Rahner, ‘The Christian of tomorrow will be a mystic, one who has experienced something, or he will be nothing.

Tony Jones, the National Coordinator of Emergent-US, in his book, ‘The Sacred Way: Spiritual Practices for Everyday Life’, advocates Centering Prayer.  This type of ‘prayer’ was developed by three Catholic monks in the 1970's, Thomas Keating, William Meninger, and Basil Pennington.  It was adapted, in part, from techniques described in the 14th century mystical book, ‘The Cloud of Unknowing.’

Daniel Goleman, in his book ‘The Meditative Mind,’ says about the Desert Fathers:

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 suggests either a borrowing from the East or a spontaneous discovery.

The Desert Fathers seemed to believe that as long as the desire for God was sincere, any method could be used to reach him.  We suggest that many within the liberal leading edge of the Emerging Church think along these lines.  Whilst not everything that springs from the Desert Fathers or the later Catholic mystics, who undoubtedly learned from them, is wrong per se, we need to stop looking at them in a nostalgic way through rose-coloured glasses.

The fact is that many of them had an unhealthy view of suffering and the practice of flagellation (flogging) is clearly both harmful and unbiblical.  Many of the medieval Catholics claimed to have had an apparition of Mary and undoubtedly some were pantheistic (God is in everything).

We need to be wise and avoid defending the indefensible.  An appearance of humility, spirituality and self denial doesn’t always equate to Godliness.

The pathway

How has unbiblical mysticism become part of the practice of the liberal Emerging Church and of other mainstream evangelicals?  We’ll look at some notable individuals and also consider the fruit in their lives, since this will tell us a great deal about the merits or otherwise of this practice.  As the Bible says, ‘By their fruit you will know them (Matt 7:16).’

Below are some of the key players who have promoted mysticism within mainstream Christianity, with the liberal edge of the Emerging Church now taking on the baton.  We’ve already mentioned Brennan Manning and the fruit of his involvement is Universalism.

Thomas Merton

Mystical prayer has been practised for centuries but there is general agreement that Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk from Kentucky, took it out of its monastic setting and made it available to the church generally during the middle of the last century.

He has influenced the Christian mystical movement probably more than any other person.  His involvement in mysticism however, led him to explore Eastern mysticism which in turn led him into deception - see ‘Merton and Sufism’ by Rob Baker and Gray Henry and ‘Silent Lamp’ by William Shannon:

Asia, Zen, Islam, etc, all these things come together in my life . . . I believe that by openness to Buddhism and to Hinduism and to the great Asian mystical traditions, we stand a wonderful chance of understanding the potentiality of our own Christian traditions . . . I am deeply impregnated with Sufism.

Merton came to believe that the realm reached during Contemplative Prayer is the same no matter what religion you follow.  Of the Islamic Sufist Shaikh Ahmad al-Alawi - see www.scribd.com/.../Thomas-Merton-s-Encounter-With-Sufism-Sork - Merton says:

One of the greatest religious figures of this century . . . He was so perfectly right in his spirituality . . . Certainly a great saint and a man full of the Holy Spirit . . . With Shaikh Ahmad I speak the same language.

Spencer Burke and Brian McLaren both recommend Merton’s teachings.

Richard Foster

Richard Foster, another Emergent, wrote ‘Celebration of Discipline’, which is highly regarded by evangelicals.  His principles are being adopted by Bible colleges the world over as a kind of training manual in spiritual disciplines and formation.  Foster believes that Merton’s contribution to modern day spirituality may surpass anyone else’s and remarks that even Zen masters from Asia saw him as an authority on meditative prayer.  Foster, in his book ‘Devotional Classics,’ says this about Merton:

I am constantly pleased at how applicable Merton’s writings are to the non-monastic world in which most of us live.  The guidance he gives on meditative prayer is practical and bite-sized.

In his book ‘Celebration of Discipline,’ he says:

We should all without shame enrol as apprentices in the school of contemplative prayer.

In his book ‘Spiritual Classics,’ Foster endorses another monk, John Main, who practised mantra meditation:

(Main) understood well the value of both silence and solitude . . . rediscovered meditation from the far East . . . believing that silence is a pathway into the reality of the universe.

The silence he refers to is that experienced when you’ve emptied the mind and achieved an altered state of consciousness.

Henri Nouwen

Henri Nouwen was a Dutch Catholic mystic and theologian.  Burke and McLaren both endorse him.  Some say he was even more influential than Richard Foster in bringing contemplative spirituality to mainstream Christianity during the second half of the last century.  This widely read author used mantra prayer to achieve an altered state of consciousness.   In his book ‘The Way of the Heart,’ he says:

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.

In his book ‘In the Name of Jesus,’ he says that leaders of the future:

. . . must move from the moral to the mystical.

Sadly, Nouwen’s ministry led him into deception.  In his book ‘Sabbatical Journey,’ he 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.

In the foreword to Thomas Ryan’s book ‘Disciples for Christian Living,’ Nouwen says:

Ryan the author shows a wonderful openness to the gifts of Buddhism, Hinduism and Muslim religion.  He discovers their great wisdom for the spiritual life of the Christian . . . Ryan went to India to learn from spiritual traditions other than his own.  He brought home many treasures and offers them to us in the book.

Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington

Keating and Pennington, two Catholic monks, blended Eastern mysticism with Christianity and introduced a contemplative method known as Centring Prayer during the 20th century.  In their book ‘Finding Grace at the Centre,’ they give the following advice:

We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and ‘capture’ it for Christ.  Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible.  Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices . .

Keating invited a Zen master to lead retreats at his abbey.  In his book ‘Centered Living,’ Pennington says:

It is my sense, from having meditated with persons from many different (non-Christian) traditions, that in the silence we experience a deep unity.  When we go beyond the portals of the rational mind into the experience, there is only one God to be experienced.

Once more, mystical practice led to deception.

M Scott Peck

M Scott Peck was an American psychiatrist and best-selling author.  In an interview with New Age magazine, he revealed that his book ‘The Road Less Travelled,’ was dropped on him from God and that there are an enormous number of people who have a passion for God, but who have rejected Fundamentalist Christianity.

The interview also divulged that Peck had moved from Eastern mystical religions toward Christian mysticism and Contemplative Prayer of which he says In his book ‘A World Waiting to be Born’:

This process of emptying the mind is of such importance it will continue to be a significant theme . . .

His mysticism led him into deception - see his book ‘Further Along The Road Less Travelled’:

Zen Buddhism should be taught in every fifth grade class in America . . . Christianity’s greatest sin is to think that other religions are not saved.

Matthew Fox

Peck endorses Matthew Fox’s book ‘The Coming of the Cosmic Christ,’ by suggesting that in it Fox is offering:

. . .values and practice required for planetary salvation.

This is an interesting comment when one considers that this New Age leader and Episcopal priest believes that mysticism should become the practice around which all the worlds religions can unite – something he calls ‘Deep Ecumenism.’  Contemplative Prayer binds the New Spirituality together.

Matthew Fox is particularly significant, because some believe that the Emerging Church began in the UK in 1986 with the Nine O’clock Service at St Thomas’ Anglican Church in Sheffield, following a John Wimber conference.

A group of Christian musicians and artists created a youth-orientated alternative Christian worship service.  From around 30 people initially, the congregation grew to almost 600.  The service, and the group associated with it, grew to national prominence, but shut down in 1995 following abuse by one of the leaders.

Matthew Fox was a consultant to the leaders of the Nine O’clock Service and greatly influenced their practice.  He was an early and influential exponent of a movement known as Creation Spirituality, which draws inspiration from the mystical philosophies of such medieval Catholics as Thomas Aquinas, St Francis of Assisi, Julian of Norwich and Meister Eckhart.

Fox advocates a shift away from the historical Jesus to the Cosmic Christ.  In his book ‘The Coming of the Cosmic Christ,’ Fox claims that Jesus is not the only Christ but like many others, including Ghandi and Buddha, he had a ‘Christ-consciousness.’

Why concentrate on mysticism?

Why, you might ask, am I concentrating on mysticism when there are so many beliefs and practices in the liberal Emerging Church to be concerned about.  For example:

*    Their denial of hell and judgement
*    The belief by some, including McLaren, that Satan’s not a real person
*    Their belief that theology must change
*    Their low view of the Bible, which they believe has no authority
*    Their acceptance of practices like homosexuality
*    Their intolerance toward orthodox evangelicals
*    Their desire to save the planet whilst downplaying personal salvation
*    Their accommodation to pluralism, syncretism and Universalism
*    Their rejection of the concept of idolatry
*    Their rejection of penal substitution and their claim that the cross represents a case of cosmic child abuse
*    Their denial of the uniqueness of Christ; their claim that Jesus is not the only Christ or the only way to the Father
*    Their desire to reinvent Christianity to appeal to Post-moderns

We could spend profitable time unpacking any of the above issues, however we believe it was right to prioritise this issue of mysticism.  We give seven reasons:

   Contemplative Prayer, along with an accommodation to Postmodernism and the denial that truth can be known, provides the doorway for the liberal Emerging Church into the New Spirituality.


ii   Bible colleges are now beginning to teach Contemplative Prayer, so future church leaders will bring this practice into their churches.  Indeed, many are already doing so.

iii  Contemplative Prayer, as it is practiced in the church, is the same as employed by New Agers, witches, occultists and pagans.  We must not be deceived because it’s couched in spiritual and Christian language.  Why would both New Agers and Christians claim Contemplative Prayer as their own?  New Age therapist Jacquelyn Small cites contemplative prayer as a gateway to the spirituality to which she belongs.  In her book ‘Awakening The Time,’ she says:

A form of Christian meditation, its practitioners are trained to focus on an inner symbol that quiets the mind . . . when practitioners become skilled at this method of meditation, they undergo a deep trance state similar to auto-hypnosis.

Christians converted from the New Age movement say that the methods are identical.  Practising Contemplative Prayer as New Agers put them in touch with their spirit guides or energy source.  Writing on ‘Astrology and the Age of Aquarius,’ Marcia Montenegro says:

Trends in society toward Eastern styles of inward meditation and contemplation fit hand in glove with astrological beliefs about the Aquarius concept of turning to the ‘inner teacher.’  Postmodern rejection of absolute truth harmonises perfectly with the Aquarian concept that there are many truths.

In his book ‘Disciplines, Mystics and the Contemplative life,’ Mike Perschon, a freelance writer for Youth Specialties, an Emergent organisation, describing his own experience in meditation, says:

I built myself a prayer room - a tiny sanctuary in a basement closet filled with books on spiritual disciplines, contemplative prayer, and Christian mysticism.  In that space I lit candles, burned incense, hung rosaries and listened to tapes of Benedictine monks.  I meditated for hours on words, images, and sounds.  I reached the point of being able to achieve alpha brain patterns, the state in which dreams occur, while still awake and meditating.

This is concerning when you consider what Laurie Cabot in her book ‘Power of the Witch,’ says:

The science of Witchcraft is based on our ability to enter an altered state of consciousness we call ‘alpha.’

iv   Mystical practices are now widely embraced and taught in secular society.  Academic promoters have introduced them into the fields of medicine, business and law while countless secular magazines, seminars and retreats are teaching lay people how to incorporate them into their daily lives.  Promoters promise physical, mental and spiritual benefits desiring to bring about positive social change.  They are also promised (see Montreal Gazette, March 24, 1975):

. . . increased creativity and flexibility, increased productivity, improved job satisfaction, improved relations with supervisors and co-workers.

In a US World News Report it said:

Corporate America may be in the midst of a Damascus road conversion.  In the past decade, more than 300 titles have been published on workplace spirituality . . 2000 global power-brokers gathered from the elite World Economic Forum . . . the agenda included confabs on spiritual anchors for . . . the future of meditation.

Yungen says:

It would appear that the world is being conditioned through books, meditation in business, mystical health-care practices and Chakra energies to embrace lying signs and wonders (miracles originating through demonic influences).

Celebrities like Shirley MacLaine, Oprah Winfrey and Madonna encourage us to embrace mysticism of one type or another.  Oprah's most significant role has become that of spiritual leader.  To her audience of more than 22 million (mostly female viewers) she has become a postmodern priestess - an icon of church-free spirituality.  Secular bookstores are full of books on ancient forms of spirituality and neo-paganism.  The practice of witchcraft, Eastern meditation, Yoga and Reiki is flourishing.

Melinder Ribner says:

Judaism is undergoing an exciting renaissance today . . . Religious organisations are slowly responding to the pressure put upon them to bring forth mystical teachings.  I have seen several orthodox Jewish organisations begin to offer classes in Kabbalah when only last year they spoke out vehemently against the study of Kabbalah.

Kabbalah reflects Talmudic, Hasidic Judaism as opposed to Mosaic Judaism and in our view represents a significant departure from biblical orthodoxy.

Fred Klett writing on ‘Kabbalah’ says:

Kabbalah as a metaphysical system has greatly influenced ‘Gentile’ occultism.  Higher states of consciousness are reached through meditation on the Hebrew alphabet.

The Masonic mystic Albert Pike wrote:

All truly dogmatic religions have issued from the Kabbalah and return to it: everything scientific and grand in the religious dreams of all the Illuminati, Jacob Boehme, Swedenborg, Saint-Martin, and others, is borrowed from the Kabbalah; all the Masonic associations owe to it their Secrets and their Symbols.

v    It opens up individuals to deception and to the influence of evil spirits.  Practitioners have no idea who or what they are hearing in the so-called silence.  During Hindu meditation, an adept yogi will usually experience many visions, wild bright lights, strange etheric sounds, and encounters with spirit-beings that many people have described after ingesting LSD.  An ex-Hindu Brahmin priest explains (see Mark Spaulding in his book 'The Heartbeat of the Dragon: The Occult Roots of Rock & Roll’):

Often while in deep meditation the gods became visible and talked with me.  At times I seemed to be transported by astral projection to distant planets or to worlds in other dimensions.  It would be years before I would learn that such experiences were being duplicated in laboratories under watchful eyes of parapsychologists through the use of hypnosis and LSD

Many people have unwittingly become New Agers by simply seeking to improve their physical and mental health through meditation.  Yungen says:

It would not surprise me if the majority of people in America have a family member or close friend who does mantra meditation, practices yoga, has either encountered Reiki or Therapeutic Touch or is an avid fan of the Oprah Winfrey show.

Reiki healing draws on ‘universal life energy.’  In Japanese, Reiki means ‘occult or ghost energy.’  Like yoga and witchcraft it is based on the Chakra system.  In Raymond Buckland’s book ‘Complete Book of Witchcraft,’ he says:

In meditation the mysterious psychic energy can be sent up through these centres.  This very potent force is called Kundalini or Serpent Power.  As this mighty force begins to flow within you, these vital psychic centres – the Chakras – begin to open in successive order.

This, it is said, opens up the channel to your ‘Higher Self.’

vi   Young post-moderns who place a high value on experience are particularly vulnerable to mysticism.  Many will discover altered states of consciousness induced through drug taking and may, like the Beatles before them, then go on to discover their ‘high’ by means of the techniques used in Contemplative Prayer.  With a genuine desire to find a deeper walk with God many Christians are willing to experiment with these dangerous practices.

vii   And finally, we want there to be no confusion between the demonic stuff and what we experience and endorse such as soaking prayer and ministry, where we call for 'the presence of the Lord.'

Sadly, and in our view erroneously, most commentators who are aware of the dangers of Contemplative Prayer, have simply thrown out the baby with the bathwater and attack every aspect of mystical experience.

We have found no proof to suggest in any way that what we practice leads to Panentheism and Pantheism (God and the world are one; God is all and in all); Syncretism (Reconciling contrary beliefs and mixing religions) and Universalism (Everybody will eventually find salvation in the grace of God).

By contrast the fruit of our practise is a deeper love for the Lord, for his word and for his purposes.  We see greater bridal passion, holiness and intimacy amongst his people.  We also see a release of prophetic ministry, supernatural encounters and increased spiritual discernment.  Above all, we see a deep gratitude for the work of the cross.

Long may it continue!

More to come . . .

The dictionary says mysticism is related to experience – either an experience related to religious mysteries or occult practices.  By definition, mystical knowledge cannot be directly written down or spoken of, but must be experienced

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