Mysticism is Uniting Charismatics with Catholics
From its inception in the 1960s, the charismatic movement’s mysticism has brought it into close association with Roman Catholicism.
I have documented this extensively in The Pentecostal-Charismatic Movements: The History and the Doctrine, which is available from Way of Life Literature.
This was illustrated at the New Orleans ’87 conference that I attended with press credentials. The 35,000 attendees represented some 40 denominations, and one-half were Roman Catholic. Of the two main leaders of the conference, one was Pentecostal and the other Roman Catholic. Many of the speakers were Roman Catholic, and a Roman Catholic priest headquartered in Rome delivered the closing message the final evening of the conference. The bookstore area featured titles about Mary visitations, papal authority, and salvation through the sacraments. There were books exalting Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa. There were crucifixes and Madonnas and pictures of the saints for sell. Each morning there was a Roman Catholic mass, and the Pentecostal leader even urged everyone to attend mass the following Sunday.
What created this amazing unity? Mysticism. The crowd was not united in doctrine and not even in the gospel. The things that united them were spirit “baptism,” tongues, prophecies, spirit slaying, and above all, the powerful contemporary praise music that dominated the conference.
Mysticism is Uniting Evangelicals with Catholics
Evangelicals have been drawn into association with Roman Catholicism in a myriad of ways over the past 50 years.
It has happened through the ecumenical evangelism that was pioneered by Billy Graham. (See “The Sad Disobedience of Billy Graham” at the Way of Life web site.)
It has happened through parachurch organizations such as Campus Crusade, Youth for Christ, and Youth With A Mission. (See “New Evangelicalism: Its History, Characteristics, and Fruit.”)
It has happened through the rapidly growing charismatic influence within evangelicalism.
It has happened through the wholesale adoption of mystical Contemporary Christian Music, which is radically ecumenical by nature and which has a strong Roman Catholic associational element.
And it is happening through the rapid spread of contemplative prayer.
Everywhere we look, evangelicals are turning to Roman Catholic styles of contemplative spirituality, such as rote prayers, chanting, silence, centering prayer, the use of prayer beads, the Stations of the Cross, lectio divina, labyrinths, and “the daily office.”
The cover story for the February 2008 issue of Christianity Today was “The Future Lies in the Past,” and it describes the “lost secrets of the ancient church” that are being rediscovered by evangelicals. The ancient church in question happens to be the Roman Catholic, beginning with the so-called “church fathers” of the early centuries.
The article observes that many young evangelicals dislike “traditional” Christianity. It is too focused on “being right,” too much into “Bible studies” and “apologetics materials.” Instead, the young evangelicals are lusting after “a renewed encounter with a God” that goes beyond “doctrinal definitions.”
This, of course, is a perfect definition of mysticism. It refers to experiencing God sensually beyond the boundaries of Scripture.
Christianity Today recommends that evangelicals “stop debating” and just “embody Christianity.” Toward this end they should “embrace symbols and sacraments” and dialogue with “Catholicism and Orthodoxy”; they should “break out the candles and incense” and pray the “lectio divina” and learn the Catholic” ascetic disciplines” from “practicing monks and nuns.”
Christianity Today says that this “search for historic roots” will lead “to a deepening ecumenical conversation, and a recognition by evangelicals that the Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox are fellow Christians with much to teach us.”
This is a no holds barred invitation to Catholic mysticism, and it will not lead to light but to the same darkness that has characterized Rome throughout its history, and it will lead beyond Rome to the paganism from which Rome originally borrowed its “contemplative practices” and with which Rome is ever more closely affiliated today.
The mystical movement is strongly influenced by Taizé (pronounced teh-zay). This is a religious community that was formed in southeastern France during World War II. While the Taizé community itself is small, the Taizé philosophy has influenced churches throughout the world. Tens of thousands of congregations in the U.S. and elsewhere hold Taizé prayer services and sing Taizé songs.
Taizé is a major force for ecumenism. Each year tens of thousands of people make a pilgrimage to Taizé. These include Protestants, Baptists, Catholics, Jews, Buddhists, and others. The Roman Catholic connection is very strong. Taizé founder Roger Schutz participated in the Second Vatican Council, and Pope John Paul II visited Taizé in October 1986. In 2006, at John Paul II’s funeral, Schutz was given Eucharistic communion at the hands of Joseph Ratzinger, who a few days later became Pope Benedict XVI. Since Schutz’s death (he was stabbed to death by a deranged woman during a Taizé service), the community has been led by a Roman Catholic priest named Alois Loeser.
The Taizé services are non-dogmatic and non-authoritative. There is no preaching. “It does not dictate what people must believe. No confessions of faith are required. No sermons are given. No emotional, evangelical-style salvation testimonials are expected.” Schutz described the philosophy of Taizé as, “Searching together--not wanting to become spiritual masters who impose; God never imposes. We want to love and listen, we want simplicity” (“Taizé,” Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, Sept. 20, 2002).
This is blind mysticism loosed from the authority of Scripture. It is not building the true church of Christ; it is building the Mystery Babylon.
Taizé’s non-doctrinal ecumenical Christianity is fueled by mystical practices. A “shadowy medieval” atmosphere is created with the use of such things as candles, icons, and incense (Vancouver Sun, April 14, 2000). The goal is to bring the “worshipper” into a meditative state, “to a place beyond words, a place of just being.” There is a lot of repetition, with “one-line Taizé harmonies repeated up to 15 times each.”
Schutz taught that truth is found through mysticism. In 1995 he told a group of 100,000 young people in Paris, “We have come here to search, or to go on searching through silence and prayer, to get in touch with our inner life” (“Brother Roger, 90, Dies,” New York Times, Aug. 18, 2005).
Taizé is heavily involved in the same social-justice issues that are popular with youth today in the emerging church and in secular society (e.g., environmentalism, AIDS, African poverty, anti-nuclear proliferation, military disarmament).
The Taizé philosophy is spreading quickly throughout evangelicalism.
More than any other individual, Richard Foster has spread Roman Catholic and Pagan mysticism throughout Protestant and Baptist churches.
Foster’s book Celebration of Discipline, which has sold more than two and a half million copies, was selected by Christianity Today as one of the top ten books of the 20th century.
He grew up among the Quakers (the Religious Society of Friends), was trained at George Fox College, has pastored Quaker churches, and has taught theology at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas, and at George Fox College.
The Quaker connection is important, because one of their doctrines is direct revelation via an “inner light.” This is defined in a variety of ways, since Quakerism is very individualistic and non-creedal, but it refers to a divine presence and guidance in every man. There is an emphasis on being still and silent and passive in order to receive guidance from the inner light.
Quaker founder George Fox claimed that he received the doctrine of the inner light without help from the Scriptures (The Journal of George Fox, revised by John Nickalls, 1952, pp. 33-35).
This is an unbiblical and very dangerous idea that opens the door for every sort of heresy. The Scripture is able to make the man of God perfect; obviously, then, nothing more is needed (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
It is easy to see how the Quaker philosophy paved the way for Foster to accept Catholic mysticism. It did this by its emphasis on an “inner light” and its tendency not to judge things in an exacting manner by Scripture.
Other Quakers have followed the same path, and some, like Mary Conrow Coelho, have followed it all the way to the New Age. Conrow believes in evolution, the oneness of the universe, and the unity of man with God, and she traces her New Age mysticism to deep third generation Quaker roots and its inner light teaching:
“The adults in our Quaker community spoke often of the Inner Light, the seed of God, the indwelling Christ. [Thomas Kelly] said, ‘It is a Light within, a dynamic center, a creative Life that presses to birth within us’” (“Of Leadings and the Inner Light: Quakerism and the New Cosmology,” http://www.thegreatstory.org/QuakerMetarelig.html).
(Richard Foster quotes Thomas Kelly favorably and frequently in his books, and the Renovaré Spiritual Formation Bible quotes Kelly as saying: “Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center.”)
Foster advocates Roman Catholic mysticism with absolutely no qualms, building his contemplative practices unequivocally upon this heretical foundation.
He recommends Ignatius of Loyola, Francis of Assisi, Benedict of Nursia, Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Genoa, Julian of Norwich, Brother Lawrence, Dominic, Catherine of Siena, John of the Cross, the anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing, Madame Guyon, Thomas à Kempis, Catherine Doherty, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Aquinas, Hildegard of Bingen, Francis de Sales, Alphonsus de Liguori, Bernard of Clairvaux, John Henry Newman, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, G.K. Chesterton, André Louf, Henri Nouwen, Dorothy Day, Karl Rahner, John Main, Mother Teresa, Thomas Merton, Brennan Manning, John Michael Talbot, and many others.
Foster’s recommendation of these Catholic mystics is not half-hearted. In the introduction to the 1998 edition of Celebration of Discipline, he says that they taught him spiritual depth and substance (pp. xiii, xiv), and he calls them “Devotional Masters of the Christian faith.” Of the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, Foster says, “... it is a school of prayer for all of us” (Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, p. 59).
There is no warning of the fact that these mystics trusted in a works gospel, venerated Mary, worshipped Christ as a piece of consecrated bread, believed in purgatory, honored the pope as the head of all churches, and held scores of other heresies. (For extensive documentation of this see our book Contemplative Mysticism, chapters “A Description of Catholic Monastic Asceticism” and “A Biographical Catalog of Contemplative Mystics.”)
Foster promotes centering prayer, visualization, guided imagery, mantras, silence, walking the labyrinth, Carl Jung’s interpretation of dreams, channelling the light of Christ, healing of memories, direct experiential communion with God, even out-of-body experiences. (See “Richard Foster: Evangelicalism’s Mystical Sparkplug” at the Way of Life web site.)
In 1988 Foster founded RENOVARÉ (pronounced ren-o-var-ay), which has a radical ecumenical thrust. Its objective is “to work for the renewal of the Church of Jesus Christ in all her multifaceted expressions.” Its slogan is “Christian in commitment, international in scope, ecumenical in breadth.” Renovaré’s ministry team represents men and women “from Mennonite to Methodist, Roman Catholic to Church of God in Christ, Assembly of God to American Baptist.”
Foster describes the breadth of his ecumenical vision in these words:
“God is gathering his people once again, creating of them an all-inclusive community of loving persons with Jesus Christ as the community’s prime sustainer and most glorious inhabitant. This community is breaking forth in multiplied ways and varied forms. ... I SEE A CATHOLIC MONK FROM THE HILLS OF KENTUCKY STANDING ALONGSIDE A BAPTIST EVANGELIST FROM THE STREETS OF LOS ANGELES and together offering up a sacrifice of praise” (Streams of Living Water, 2001, p. 274).
At the October 1991 Renovaré meeting in Pasadena, California, Foster praised Pope John Paul II and called for unity in the Body of Christ” (CIB Bulletin, December 1991).
Richard Foster believes he is promoting a true spiritual revival within Christianity, but he is the blind leading the blind. His mysticism has brought him into contact with demons masquerading as angels of light and ministers of righteousness. His writings are an exceedingly dangerous mixture of truth and error. Pastors and teachers need to warn their people to stay away from him, for “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9).
Mysticism is Uniting Catholics with Pagans
At the same time that mysticism is bringing evangelicals and charismatics into ever-closer and ever-non-critical association with Roman Catholicism, it is bringing Roman Catholicism into ever-closer association with Pagan religions and New Age.
Catholic priest Tilden Edwards observes that “the mystical stream is the western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality” (Spiritual Friend, 1980, pp. 18, 19).
Since Eastern “spirituality” is idol worship and the worship of self and thus is communion with devils, what Edwards is unwittingly saying is that contemplative practices are a bridge to demonic realms.
Tony Campolo says that the growing unity between Catholics and Buddhists is found in mystical experiences such as contemplative silence.
“I got to meet the head of the Franciscan order. I met him in Washington. He said let me tell you an interesting story. He told me about one of their gatherings, where they bring the brothers of the Franciscan order together for a time of fellowship. About eight years ago they held it in Thailand and out of courtesy, they really felt they needed to show some graciousness to the Buddhists, because they were in a Buddhist country. So they got Buddhist theologians together and Franciscan theologians together and sent them off for three days to talk and see if they could find common ground. They also took Buddhist and Franciscan monastics and sent them off together to pray with each other. On the fourth day they all reassembled. The theologians were fighting with each other, arguing with each other, contending there was no common ground between them. The monastics that had gone off praying together, came back hugging each other. IN A MYSTICAL RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD, THERE IS A COMING TOGETHER OF PEOPLE WHERE THEOLOGY IS LEFT BEHIND AND IN THIS SPIRITUALITY THEY FOUND A COMMONALITY” (“On Evangelicals and Interfaith Cooperation,” Cross Currents, Spring 2005).
Jesuit priest Thomas Clarke admits that the Catholic contemplative movement has “BEEN INFLUENCED BY ZEN BUDDHISM, TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION, OR OTHER CURRENTS OF EASTERN SPIRITUALITY” (Finding Grace at the Center, pp. 79, 80).
Shambhala Publications, a publisher that specializes in Occultic, Jungian, New Age, Buddhist, and Hindu writings, also publishes the writings of Catholic mystics, including The Wisdom of the Desert by Thomas Merton, The Writings of Hildegard of Bingen, and The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.
Thomas Merton (1915-1969) is a prime example of the close association between Catholic contemplatives and Pagan/New Agers. Merton is highly recommended by “evangelical” contemplative promoter Richard Foster.
Merton was a Trappist monk who worshiped Mary and practiced contemplative meditation in the silence of an ascetic monastery where talking is usually prohibited.
Merton defined mysticism as an experience beyond words. In a speech to monks of eastern religions in Calcutta in October 1968 he said: “... the deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. IT IS WORDLESS. IT IS BEYOND WORDS, and it is BEYOND SPEECH, and it is BEYOND CONCEPT” (The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, 1975 edition, p. 308).
In the mystical silence Merton found unity with Zen Buddhism, Hinduism, Sufism, and New Age. Merton was a student of Zen master D.T. Suzuki and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. In fact, he claimed to be both a Buddhist and a Christian. The titles of Merton’s books include Zen and the Birds of the Appetite and Mystics and the Zen Masters. Merton said: “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can” (David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West,” Monastic Studies, 7:10, 1969, http://www.gratefulness.org/readings/dsr_merton_recol2.htm). When Merton visited ancient Buddha statues on the coast of Sri Lanka he had a dramatic mystical experience that he attributed to God. He wrote, “I don’t know when in my life I have ever had such a sense of beauty and spiritual validity running together in one illumination” (The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, 1975 edition, p. 235). The Yoga Journal observed: “MERTON WAS ABLE TO UNCOVER THE STREAM WHERE THE WISDOM OF EAST AND WEST MERGE AND FLOW TOGETHER, BEYOND DOGMA, IN THE DEPTHS OF INNER EXPERIENCE” (Yoga Journal, Jan.-Feb. 1999).
Merton came to believe that within every man is a pure spark of divine illumination and that men can know God through a variety of paths:
“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God. It is like a pure diamond blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody. I have no program for saying this. It is only given, but the gate of heaven is everywhere” (Soul Searching: The Journey of Thomas Merton, 2007, DVD).
New Ager Caroline Myss (pronounced mace) has written a book based on Teresa of Avila’s visions. It is entitled Entering the Castle: Finding the Inner Path to God and Your Soul’s Purpose. Myss says, “For me, the spirit is the vessel of divinity” (“Caroline Myss’ Journey,” Conscious Choice, September 2003).
Mary Coelho, a third generation Quaker, pursued contemplative mysticism from the Quaker inner light through Catholic contemplative practices all the way to the New Age. Today she believes that man is a product of billions of years of evolution, a process that is reaching a new stage in our day. She denies the Bible’s teaching on creation, the fall of man, and salvation only through faith in the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ.
Catholic priest Anthony de Mello’s contemplative prayer has taught him to commune with inanimate objects.
“Choose some object that you use frequently: a pen, a cup ... Now gently place the object in front of you and speak to it. Begin by asking it questions about itself, its life, its origins, its future. And listen while it unfolds to you the secret of its being and of its destiny. Your object has some hidden wisdom to reveal to you about yourself. Ask for this and listen to what it has to say” (De Mello, Sadhana: A Way to God, p. 55).
Catholic priest Tilden Edwards learned through contemplative prayer that Buddha and Jesus are friends.
“For many years, I have kept in my office an ink drawing of two smiling figures with their arms around each other: Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha, with the caption: ‘JESUS AND BUDDHA MUST BE VERY GOOD FRIENDS.’ They are not the same, but they are friends, not enemies, and they are not indifferent to one another” (Edwards, “Jesus and Buddha Good Friends,” Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation newsletter, winter 2000, http://www.shalem.org/resources/publication/newsletter/archives/2000/2000_winter/article_05).
Many Catholics are affiliating with New Ager Ken Wilber, who believes in the divinity of man and a panentheistic god.
Wilber was invited to write the foreword to The Common Heart, a book that describes the interfaith dialogues conducted at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, under the direction of Thomas Keating.
Wilber also conducted a Mystic Heart seminar series with Catholic contemplative monk Wayne Teasdale. In the first seminar in this series Teasdale said, “You are God; I am God; they are God; it is God” (“The Mystic Heart: The Supreme Identity,” http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7652038071112490301&q=ken+Wilber).
In Up from Eden: A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution (1981, 2004), Wilber calls the Garden of Eden a fable” and the biblical view of history “amusing” (pp. xix, 3). He describes his “perennial philosophy” as follows:
“... it is true that there is some sort of Infinite, some type of Absolute Godhead, but it cannot properly be conceived as a colossal Being, a great Daddy, or a big Creator set apart from its creations, from things and events and human beings themselves. Rather, it is best conceived (metaphorically) as the ground or suchness or condition of all things and events. It is not a Big Thing set apart from finite things, but rather the reality or suchness or ground of all things. ... the perennial philosophy declares that the absolute is One, Whole, and Undivided” (p. 6).
Wilber says that this perennial philosophy “forms the esoteric core of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Sufism, AND CHRISTIAN MYSTICISM” (p. 5).
Thus, this New Ager recognizes that Roman Catholic mysticism, which spawned the contemplative movement within Protestantism, has the same esoteric core faith as pagan idolatry! And there is no doubt that this is true. It is a blind leap into the dark.
Catholic priest Thomas Keating is involved in the Living Spiritual Teachers Project, a group that associates together Christians of various stripes, Zen Buddhist monks and nuns, universalists, occultists, and New Agers. Members include the Dalai Lama, who claims to be the reincarnation of an advanced spiritual entity; Marianne Williamson, promoter of the occultic A Course in Miracles; Marcus Borg, who believes that Jesus was not virgin born and did not rise from the grave; Catholic nun Joan Chittister, who says we must become “in tune with the cosmic voice of God”; Andrew Harvey, who says that men need to “claim their divine humanity”; Matthew Fox, who believes there are many paths to God; Alan Jones, who calls the gospel of the cross a vile doctrine and says there is no absolute authority; and Desmond Tutu, who says, “... because everybody is a God-carrier, all are brothers and sisters.”
These are just a few examples of how that contemplative mysticism is uniting Roman Catholics with Pagan religionists and New Agers. They are finding and worshiping the same false god.
Mysticism is Uniting Emergents with New Agers
Mysticism is also uniting emerging church people with New Agers.
On April 15, 2008, emerging church leaders and contemplatives Rob Bell and Doug Pagitt joined the Dalai Lama for the New Agey Seeds of Compassion InterSpiritual Event in Seattle. It brought together Episcopalians, Roman Catholics, Buddhists, Sikhs, Muslims, and others. The event featured a dialogue on “the themes common to all spiritual traditions.” The Dalai Lama said, “I think everyone, ultimately, deep inside [has] some kind of goodness” (“Emergent Church Leaders’ InterSpirituality,” Christian Post, April 17, 2008).
Rob Bell’s god is more akin to New Age panentheism than the God of the Bible. He describes God as “a force, an energy, a being calling out to us in many languages, using a variety of methods and events” (Love Wins, 2011, Kindle location 1710-1724).
“There is an energy in the world, a spark, an electricity that everything is plugged into. The Greeks called it zoe, the mystics call it ‘Spirit,’ and Obi-Wan called it ‘the Force’” (Love Wins, location 1749-1762).
Bell also worships a New Age christ. His Jesus is “supracultural ... present within all cultures ... refuses to be co-opted or owned by any one culture ... He doesn’t even state that those coming to the Father through him will even know that they are coming exclusively through him ... there is only one mountain, but many paths. ... People come to Jesus in all sorts of ways ... Sometimes people use his name; other times they don’t” (Love Wins, location 1827-1840, 1865-1878, 1918-1933).
It is not surprising, then, that Bell recommends that his readers sit at New Ager Ken Wilber’s feet for three months.
“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” (Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis, p. 192).
As we have seen, Wilber believes the Bible is a fable and holds to the pantheistic god of Hinduism.
Rick Warren has yoked up with mystic Ken Blanchard on various occasions even though Blanchard is intimately associated with New Age paganism. Blanchard visited Saddleback in 2003 and Warren told the church that he had “signed on to help with the P.E.A.C.E. Plan, and he’s going to be helping train us in leadership and in how to train others to be leaders all around the world” (Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, pp. 162, 163). Warren teamed up with Blanchard in the Lead Like Jesus conferences and audio series. Warren used Blanchard’s materials in a Preaching and Purpose Driven Life Training Workshop for Chaplains at Saddleback in 2004 (A Time of Departing, p. 167). Warren also endorsed Blanchard’s book Lead Like Jesus.
Blanchard, in turn, has strong New Age associations. He wrote the foreword to the 2007 edition of Ballard’s book Little Wave and Old Swell, which is inspired by Hindu guru Paramahansa Yogananda. This book is designed to teach children that God is all and man is one with God. In the foreword Blanchard makes the following amazing statement: “Yogananda loved Jesus, and Jesus would have loved Yogananda.” I was a disciple of Yogananda before I was saved, and there is no doubt that he did NOT love the Jesus of the Bible!
Blanchard’s recommendation appears on the back cover of Deepak Chopra’s The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. He wrote the foreword to Ellen Ladd’s book Death and Letting God, which promotes clairvoyance. He endorsed the 2005 book Zen of Business Administration, which is subtitled “How Zen practice can transform your work and your life.”
Blanchard joined members of the New Age occultic project The Secret in January 2008 for a one-day seminar entitled “Your Best Year Ever” (“Ken Blanchard Joins ‘The Secret’ Team,” Lighthouse Trails, Jan. 14, 2008). Rhonda Byrne, the author of The Secret, thanked “Esther Hicks and the teachings of Abraham.” Abraham refers to a group of spirit guides that Hicks channels. The Secret teaches the New Age doctrines that man is god. “You are God in a physical body ... You are all power ... You are all intelligence ... You are the creator” (p. 164).
Lighthouse Trails wisely observes:
“Did Rick Warren know of Blanchard’s sympathies when he brought him in to help at Saddleback? Of course he did. And do you think that Rick Warren and Ken Blanchard are going to train their ‘billion’ soldiers for Christ how to practice New Age mysticism and learn how to go into altered states of consciousness? You bet. And that is definitely something to be concerned about” (“Rick Warren Teams up with New Age Guru,” Lighthouse Trails, April 19, 2005).
Warren is also closely associated with New Age mystic Leonard Sweet. He teamed up with Sweet in 1994 to produce the Tides of Change audio set published by Zondervan. A photo of Warren and Sweet are pictured on the cover. Warren endorsed Sweet’s book Soul Tsunami. Warren invited Sweet to speak at the 2008 Saddleback Small Groups Conference called Wired.
Sweet promotes a New Age spirituality that he calls New Light and “the Christ consciousness.” He describes it in terms of “the union of the human with the divine” which is the “center feature of all the world’s religions” (Quantum Spirituality, p. 235). He says it was experienced by Mohammed, Moses, and Krishna. He says that some of the “New Light leaders” that have led him into this thinking are New Agers Matthew Fox, M. Scott Peck, Willis Harman, and Ken Wilber, plus the Catholic-Buddhist Thomas Merton. In his book Quantum Spirituality Sweet defines the New Light as “a structure of human becoming, a channeling of Christ energies through mindbody experience” ( p. 70). He says humanity needs to learn the truth of the words of Thomas Merton, “We are already one” (p. 13).
In 2011, Rick Warren yoked together with three men whose thinking is permeated with New Age principles in an alternative health care program for Saddleback Church. Called the “Daniel Plan,” the program was written by Mehmet Oz, Daniel Amen, and Mark Hyman. Oz is a follower of Emanuel Swedenborg, who entertained spirit guides and was deeply involved with Eastern mysticism (“Special Report,” Lighthouse Trails, Jan. 11, 2011). Amen, a professor of psychiatry and founder of Amen Clinics, teaches Eastern meditation and deals in pop psychology and self-help. Both Oz and Amen promote Reiki, which is an occultic practice that allegedly channels “universal healing energy.” Amen told Warren that he intends to help Saddleback church members to have good “brain health.” What is this? Amen has written several books on this subject. The Brain in Love promotes Hindu Tantra, which is the pagan concept of combining yogic meditation with sexual activity. Making a Good Brain Great promotes Hindu-style meditation through the vain repetition of the alleged primal sounds saa, taa, naa, maa, aa. We wonder if Amen will be teaching Hindu tantric yoga at Saddleback. This would go right along with the current emphasis on good [sexual education] programs in emerging churches (and some fundamental Baptist ones, as well). Even if these actual demonic practices are not part of the Saddleback health program, Rick Warren has brought his people into potential contact with such things by his unhesitating recommendation of these men. Mark Hyman also promotes meditation based on Buddhist principles. He claims that “diseases don’t exist; their symptoms are related to effects” (“Rick Warren’s Celebrity Health Plan Draws Thousands,” The Orange County Register, Jan. 16, 2011). To say that disease doesn’t exist apart from human causes is New Age nonsense. While it is true that diet and exercise can affect one’s health, all diseases are not the result of lifestyle. We are fallen sinners who live in a sin-cursed world, and disease and death are realities that affect every individual regardless of what type of “healthy lifestyle” he pursues. In the book The New Age Tower of Babel, we warn that the alternative health care field is permeated with New Age thought. A friend observed that health food stores are New Age chapels. Beware, friends. Though we know that health is important, the Bible itself doesn’t have much to say about it. What the Bible does have a lot to say about is spiritual health in general and not associating with paganism in particular! “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils” (1 Corinthians 10:21).
Observe, then, how close are the ties between evangelicals, emergents, and the New Age! And contemplative prayer practices are the bridge.
Mysticism is uniting Christian rockers with Secular rockers
Ever since we first began warning about Christian rock decades ago, we have observed that there is no separation between Christian rock and secular rock. Contemporary Christian musicians make no attempt to hide this fact and they have no shame for it. When asked in interviews about their musical influences and their favorite music, invariably they list a number of raunchy secular rock musicians.
The following examples could be multiplied endlessly:
FOURTH WATCH cites groups like U2, the Police, Genesis, Pete Townshend, and the Alarm as major influences. “MEMBERS LISTEN TO A GREAT DEAL OF MAINSTREAM MUSIC, MAKING NO APOLOGIES FOR IT, and they express a desire to play clubs and other non-church settings” (CCM Magazine, April 1987, p. 19).
RANDY STONEHILL “listens to all kinds of music,” including hard secular rock (Devlin Donaldson, “Rockin’ Randy,” CCM Magazine, August 1983).
PHIL KEAGGY performs an unholy combination of secular rock and Christian rock/folk, and those who listen to his music are drawn toward worldly rock & roll. On his 1993 Crimson and Blue album, for example, he pays “homage to the Beatles” by covering several of their songs.
When ASHLEY CLEVELAND was asked what music was on her stereo, she replied, “Living With Ghosts, Patty Griffin; What’s The Story Morning Glory, Oasis; Exile On Main Street, the Rolling Stones” (http://www.ashleycleveland.com/acfacts.htm). In her concerts, Ashley performs a very gritty rendition of the Rolling Stones hit “Gimme Shelter.”
CAEDMON’S CALL said their greatest love in music is secular rock. They mentioned Indigo Girls, Shawn Colvin, David Wilcox, The Police, Fishbone, 10,000 Maniacs (Lighthouse Electronic Magazine). The group often performs Beatles music. Cliff Young said one of his favorites is the foul-mouthed Alanis Morrisette. He mocked a preacher who warns that Christian musicians should not listen to secular rock and said that he listens to secular rock & rollers because “they are being honest [about] struggles that they go through.”
AUDIO ADRENALINE’S Bloom album includes the song “Free Ride” from the Edgar Winter Group’s They Only Come out at Night album. Rock star Edgar Winter was featured on the cover of this wicked album dressed as a homosexual “drag queen.” The lyrics to “Free Ride” claim that “all of the answers come from within.” This is rank heresy, because we know that the answers do not come from within man’s fallen heart, but from God’s revelation in the Bible.
STEVE CAMP says, “I’ll have a Foreigner 4 album going in my car.” He also says: “I am dedicated to good music whether it’s pop, Christian, gospel, R&B, blues, jazz, classical, rock or whatever. I just love good music” (Steve Camp, MusicLine magazine, Feb. 1986, p. 22).
JARS OF CLAY names Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles as their inspiration (Dann Denny, “Christian Rock,” Sunday Herald Times, Bloomington, Ind., Feb. 8, 1998). The lead guitarist for Jars of Clay is said to be a “Beatles fanatic” (Christian News, Dec. 8, 1997). When asked by Christianity Today to list their musical influences, Jars of Clay members “listed no Christian artists” (Christianity Today, Nov. 15, 1999). Jars of Clay performs Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” during their concerts. Osbourne is the filthy-mouthed former lead singer for the occultic rock group Black Sabbath.
Dana Key (of DEGARMO & KEY) says that he has been influenced most by B.B. King, Jimi Hendrix, and Billy Gibbons (of ZZ Top) (CCM Magazine, January 1989, p. 30).
POINT OF GRACE, on their Life, Love and Other Mysteries album, recorded “Sing a Song” by the occultic, antichrist rock group Earth, Wind and Fire.
The worldliness of DELIRIOUS is evident in their choice of “musical heroes,” which include “Radiohead, Blur and other big British modern rockers” (CCM magazine, July 1999, p. 39).
The group DELIVERANCE performs songs by secular rock groups. Their What a Joke album has the song “After Forever” by the vile, blasphemous, pagan rock group Black Sabbath.
When asked what is currently in her CD player, CRYSTAL LEWIS replied: “Michael Jackson, Thriller; Billy Holliday; Led Zeppelin; Radiohead, Ok Computer; Radiohead, Kid A; and Sting, Nothing Like the Sun (“Ten Questions with Chrystal Lewis,” CCM Magazine, March 2002).
The popular group THIRD DAY also loves secular rock. Michael Herman of Christianity Today asked the members of Third Day to “name a musician you’d pay to see in concert.” All five members of the band named secular rockers. Tai named U2; Brad, the Cars; David, Phil Collins; Mac, Tom Petty; and Mark, George Harrison (“Guy Talk” interview posted at Christianity Today web site, Feb. 26, 2002). Anyone familiar with the music and atmosphere at secular rock concerts should know that a Bible believer has no business there. “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Eph. 5:11).
In the video for the Rock & Worship Roadshow Tour (2011), MERCYME covers the Beatles song “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.”
Why is it that contemporary Christian musicians can be so comfortable with secular rock? I believe it is because so many CCM artists worship a false god.
As a new Christian in 1973, one of the first things that God dealt with me about was my music. I could see from my daily Bible reading that rock music is wrong. It is the very definition of the “world” that we are not to love as described in 1 John 2:15-17.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”
Rock music is clearly characterized by “the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life.” A better definition has never been written.
James warned that it is spiritual adultery to love the world and God, too.
“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
Therefore, I knew that I had a clear choice. I could love rock or I could love God, but I could not love both, and if I held on to my love for filthy secular rock I would be committing spiritual adultery against the thrice holy God who saved me.
I loved rock & roll, but I loved the Lord more. Furthermore, I had already drunk deeply of the cup of rock & roll and I yearned for a new path in life. I wanted a new song. I wanted to be set free from the old way, so I gave up rock & roll. I have been tempted to go back on that decision from time to time, but by God’s grace I have never done so and I have never regretted it. The older I get in the Lord, the clearer it becomes to me that rock & roll is of the world, the flesh, and the devil, and it has no part whatsoever in the life of a born again child of God.
One reason why contemporary Christian music lovers do not separate from rock & roll is that they worship the same god as secular rockers.
It is the god that is experienced through sensual passions.
As we have seen, rock & rollers can be religiously passionate about their music and they often speak of it in terms of a spiritual experience.
The Doors wanted their audience “to undergo a religious experience.”
Bob Marley’s concerns were “like church ... a spiritual high.”
Grateful Dead concerts are “a place to worship” and “bear uncanny resemblance to religious festivals.”
Muddy Waters said that “blues was his religion.”
Judas Priest said that rock music isn’t just music; it’s “a philosophy and a way of life.”
Michael Jackson said, “When I am dancing, I have felt touched by something sacred.”
George Harrison said, “Music is very involved with the spiritual.”
Brian Eno described his discovery of rock & roll as “a spiritual experience.”
Obviously, these rockers are not talking about having communion with the God of the Bible. They worship a different god. He is non-judgmental, sensual, even sexual, and puts no obligations on people, letting them “follow their hearts.”
This is exactly the god worshiped by many CCM artists.
Consider the popularity of The Shack. It has been directly endorsed by Michael W. Smith and other CCM artists and has been well received in prominent CCM circles such as Calvary Chapels, Vineyard churches, and Hillsong. It was promoted at the 2009 National Pastor’s Convention in San Diego, which was sponsored by Zondervan and InterVarsity Fellowship. Young was one of the speakers and a survey found that 57% had read the novel. Young was enthusiastically received, and in an interview with Andy Crouch, a senior editor of Christianity Today, there was not a hint of condemnation for his false god. Crouch is a CCM musician in his own right and led one of the praise and worship sessions in San Diego.
The Shack is all about redefining God. It is about a man who becomes bitter at God after his daughter is murdered and has a life-changing experience in the very shack where the murder occurred; but the God he encounters is most definitely not the God of the Bible.
Young says the book is for those with “a longing that God is as kind and loving as we wish he was” (interview with Sherman Hu, Dec. 4, 2007). What he is referring to is the desire on the part of the natural man for a God who loves “unconditionally” and does not require obedience, does not require repentance, does not judge sin, and does not make men feel guilty for what they do.
In that same interview, Young said that a woman wrote to him and said that her 22-year-old daughter came to her after reading the book and asked, “IS IT ALRIGHT IF I DIVORCE THE OLD GOD AND MARRY THE NEW ONE?”
This is precisely what a very large portion of the Contemporary Christian Music crowd is doing.
Young admits that the God of “The Shack” is different from the traditional God of Bible-believing Christianity and blasphemously says that the God who “watches from a distance and judges sin” is “a Christianized version of Zeus.”
This reminds me of the modernist G. Bromley Oxnam, who called the God of the Old Testament “a dirty bully” in his 1944 book Preaching in a Revolutionary Age.
Young depicts the triune God as a young Asian woman named “Sarayu” * (supposedly the Holy Spirit), an oriental carpenter who loves to have a good time (supposedly Jesus), and an older black woman named “Elousia” (supposedly God the Father). (* The name “Sarayu” is from the Hindu scriptures and represents a mythical river in India on the shores of which the Hindu god Rama was born.)
Young’s god is the god of the emerging church. He is cool, loves rock & roll, is non-judgmental, does not exercise wrath toward sin, does not send unbelievers to an eternal fiery hell, does not require repentance and the new birth, and puts no obligations on people. (See “The Shack’s Cool God” at the Way of Life web site, www.wayoflife.org.)
The false CCM non-judgmental, universalistic god is represented by emerging church leaders such as Brian McLaren and Rob Bell, both of whom are very popular with CCM artists. One Christian rocker told us that these writings “resonate” with him.
McLaren calls the God who punished Jesus on the cross for man’s sin “a God who is incapable of forgiving, unless he kicks somebody else” (McLaren, http://www.understandthetimes.org/mclarentrans.shtml and http://str.typepad.com/weblog/2006/01/brian_mclaren_p.html ). He presents the traditional God of the Bible as a tyrant who “gets his way through coercion and violence and intimidation and domination. McLaren says that the “power of the blood” gospel “raises some questions about the goodness of God.”
Rob Bell, author of the influential book Velvet Elvis, claims that the God who would allow multitudes to go to eternal hell is not great or mighty (Love Wins, Kindle location 1189-1229). He says that such God is not loving and calls the preaching of eternal hell “misguided and toxic.” He says there is something wrong with this God and calls Him “terrifying and traumatizing and unbearable” (Love Wins, location 47-60, 1273-1287, 2098-2113). He even says that if an earthly father acted like the God who sends people to hell “we could contact child protection services immediately” (Love Wins, location 2085-2098).
One of Bell’s supporters, Chad Hotlz, a Methodist pastor, calls the God who sends unbelievers to hell “the monster God” (“Who’s in Hell?” FoxNews, March 24, 2011).
It is obvious that Bell and company worship a different God than the One we worship in “traditional” Baptist churches.
The “old-fashioned” Bible believer says with the writer of Hebrews, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). The emerging church says, “Our God is not a consuming fire.”
Bell’s God is more akin to New Age panentheism than the God of the Bible. He describes God as “a force, an energy, a being calling out to us in many languages, using a variety of methods and events” (Love Wins, location 1710-1724).
“There is an energy in the world, a spark, an electricity that everything is plugged into. The Greeks called it zoe, the mystics call it ‘Spirit,’ and Obi-Wan called it ‘the Force’” (Love Wins, location 1749-1762).
Many of the CCM artists worship A REBEL CHRIST, which is certainly a false christ. Mark Stuart of Audio Adrenaline says, “Jesus Christ is the biggest rebel to ever walk the face of the earth” (Pensacola News Journal, Pensacola, Fla., March 1, 1998, pp. 1, 6E). Sonny of P.O.D. says, “We believe that Jesus was the first rebel; the first punk rocker” (http://www.shoutweb.com/interviews/pod0700.phtml). This is absolute blasphemy. The Bible says rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (1 Sam. 15:23). A rebel is a lawbreaker, but Christ was the lawgiver who He came to earth to fulfill the requirements of His own law (Mat. 5:17-19). Christ was not crucified for rebellion; He was crucified for testifying that He is God (John 10:33).
Many of the CCM artists worship A ROCK & ROLL PARTY CHRIST. In his Live ... Radically Saved video Carman says, “Jesus is always cool; He’s got his thing together.” In Resurrection Rap Carman portrays Jesus as a street hippie; in The Standard he calls Jesus “J.C.”; and in Addicted to Jesus he speaks of “Jammin’ with the Lamb.” Petra claims that “God gave rock and roll to you/ Put it in the soul of every one.” In “Party in Heaven” the Daniel Band sang, “The Lamb and I are drinkin’ new wine.” Phil Driscoll says, “God is the King of Soul; He’s the King of all rhythm” (quoted by Tim Fisher, Battle for Christian Music, p. 82). Messiah Prophet Band says, “Jesus is the Master of Metal,” and Barren Cross says, “Better than pot, Jesus rocks.” John Fischer described God as puffing on a cigar and swaying to rock music (CCM Magazine, July 1984, p. 20), while J. Lee Grady says Jesus enjoys dancing with the angels and “grooving to the sound of Christian R&B pumped out of a boom box” (Charisma, July 2000).
The fact that the CCM crowd typically worships a different kind of God than the “old-fashioned” Biblicist, is why they are perfectly comfortable using music that has been identified as sexy by the secular world.
“... that is what rock is all about--[sexual activity] with a 100-megaton bomb, the beat” (Gene Simmons of KISS, Entertainment Tonight, ABC, Dec. 10, 1987).
Note that Simmons was not referring to the words of rock music; he was referring to the music itself and particularly to its backbeat rhythm.
Music researchers Daniel and Bernadette Skubik, in their study on the neurophysiology of rock music, warned:
“Whether the words are evil, innocuous, or based in Holy Scripture, the overall neurophysiological effects generated by rock music remain the same. There is simply no such thing as Christian rock that is substantively different in its impact” (“The Neurophysiology of Rock,” an Appendix to Ken Blanchard’s Pop Goes the Gospel, pp. 187ff).
The reason this statement doesn’t bother a CCM defender is because he sees Jesus as a non-judgmental rock & roll party Dude who loves a good time.
“Those who envision God as a special friend, a kind of lover, with whom they can have fun, see no problem in worshipping him by means of physically stimulating music. On the other hand, those who perceive God as a majestic, holy, and almighty Being to be approached with awe and reverence will only use the music that elevates them spiritually” (Samuele Bacchiocchi, The Christian and Rock Music).
They are worshiping a different god.
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