Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The devil's in the details

Here's an alarmist screed from our good friends at Christian Worldview Network:

It's called "contemplative" or "centering" prayer and if you haven't heard about it yet, chances are unfortunately good that you will soon. It's invading churches like a virus in which submicroscopic pathogens contaminate the body many hours or days before the victim is aware of its presence.
That's pretty frightening, isn't it. It's like AIDS, or herpes, or the flu. What the hell is it?

Contemplative prayer is one of a number of ancient mystical practices or spiritual disciplines, as their proponents refer to them, which are being encouraged at an alarming rate by evangelical churches. It is all part of something called Spiritual Formation and the Emergent Church, a movement that as John MacArthur states in his book, The Truth War, is subtly changing the beliefs and doctrines of the evangelical church as we know it.

In its pure form, contemplative prayer is practiced by sitting still, quieting, and concentrating on your breathing and repeating a word of choice (maybe the name Jesus, for instance) over and over again. You're to concentrate on that word and your breathing, and work to eliminate all thoughts from your mind. Over a period of maybe 20 minutes -- and with practice -- you can enter into "the silence." Your mind is blank. You have, in fact, hypnotized yourself. And it is in "the silence" where "God" allegedly speaks to you.
The horror! I don't understand how an ancient practice of sitting still and getting your shit together contravenes the teachings of an ancient book. I expect she'll tell us, though.

According to the testimony of one former, now-redeemed New Ager I recently read this is the exact method used by New Agers and Eastern mystics to enter an altered state of consciousness that opens a person up to demonic influence...

And don't forget, this is based on the testimony of one reformed new-ager. And we know it isn't "god" talking to you how? If you're hearing voices, it's not god or a demon. You need to seek professional, medical help, before the leprechaun starts telling you to burn things.

Here's the thing: The introduction of these practices isn't direct. It's an insidious offensive by those the Bible would identify as false teachers. As MacArthur notes, "Rarely are their assaults on the truth open and head-on attacks. Instead, they prefer to work underground, drilling little holes in the foundations of truth itself."

Remember Jesus' warning? "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves" (Matt. 7:15).

MacArthur says, "You can't necessarily tell a false teacher by the way he or she appears. Every false religious leader is, after all, 'religious' by definition. Looking saintly is practically part of the job description."

So you may, for instance, be in a wonderful church with fellow Christians who are your fast friends. Everything is going hunky-dory--excellent Bible studies, messages that challenge you, friends you trust -- when all of a sudden there's a new Sunday school teacher or a new pastor on staff. Or maybe it's the same pastor who has taken a class or been to a conference that "changed his life" or "opened his eyes." Slowly, imperceptibly perhaps, change begins to happen.
The pastor starts telling you to sit still and listen to the voices. It'd be a warning sign for me, too.

Oddly enough, the rest of the article has NOTHING to do with contemplative prayer or meditation.

Whoa, Heidi! I thought we were talking contemplative prayer here. Did you change horses midstream?


Yes, you did.

...This is where it starts. It's been tough to figure out how to explain to you the way to identify the beginnings of the Spiritual Formation and the Emergent Church movement when it tiptoes into the church, because it's more the absence of what should be present than it is a stark, head-on attack.
Christians beware. The demons are infiltrating your church. Somehow. And there's meditation involved. And something about changing family structure. The church can do that, you see. And beware of reformation. Because the protestant church has always been the one true church, and never changed doctrine. Ever.

I like these people.

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