“Be still, and know that I am God:” (Psalm 46:10)
I recently finished one of the most important Christian books I’ve ever read.
It’s called, A Time of Departing, by Ray Yungen. You can find this book on the LighthouseTrails.com website. Check out that site for a host of research on important Christian topics.
Mr. Yungen’s book deals with the Contemplative Prayer movement. If you are not familiar with this growing practice, you should be. We all should be.
In the next few posts I’ll deal with some extremely valuable aspects of this book that I hope will help you to make sense of this new movement. Since we all, as Christians, are strangers and pilgrims in this world. This very strange world.
In a nutshell, he makes a very solid case regarding the dangers of a practice that is spreading like wildfire throughout the religious world — including within Evangelical circles. This practice is being promoted by some very well-know leaders not normally associated with unbiblical practices. In the book you’ll discover the chilling details.
Contemplative Prayer is a spiritual technique that is, for all practical purposes, an Eastern mystical discipline re-packaged for the undiscerning Christian. It is wrapped in all the language and lingo that would attract the seeker of a deeper relationship with God. But it is nothing more than New Age and Eastern occultism masquerading as Christian meditation.
Searching for Paradise Lost
The great yearning of our hearts is for peace. For quiet stillness in our souls.
Men have always sought this. Since the beginning of the world, when Adam and Eve were cast out of the garden, our souls have been troubled. It was there that a separation occurred between God and man.
For thousands of years men have sought to restore that fellowship lost.
Each religion of the world offers its own techniques to restore that fellowship. The most common of these techniques is through meditation; which involves finding a secluded place and looking inward to fix the problems of the soul.
In the depths of their souls, men are looking for a firm foundation — a core or solid ground on which to stand. A still, unshakeable place.
Most ancient religions of the world have used mystical techniques to find this place. Some repeat words or phrases over and over — mantras, as some call them. They believe that the repetition of a sacred word or phrase will focus the mind and spirit toward its goal.
In this way, men believe they can cut through the fog and mists that obscure the inner path. And that the mantra will act as a kind of spiritual light guiding one through the darkness.
The Path Down
The first step that the mystics employ is to empty the mind. This is part of seeking stillness. It is an ancient method to escape from thought.
Surprisingly, there are many profound and consistent results that people have realized by this technique. Millions of people have discovered amazing, life-changing things by using these techniques.
Whether we are speaking of Buddhist, Hindu, Sufi, or a myriad of other Eastern religious traditions, the techniques are very similar. They direct a man to seek help from within his own being. And to embark on a path of self-improvement leading deep into the spiritual world.
Although, this is not always the case, visual and physical manifestations are not uncommon for those that delve deeply into this realm. Many claim to encounter spirits or other entities that often become their teachers and guides. Many claim to have close personal contact with a powerful presence when in a deeply meditative or altered state.
The experiences of those that seek solace with meditation techniques vary. But there is an undeniable power and apparent benefit that results from such practices.
It is undeniable that meditation has become commonplace in our culture. It has become a widely accepted form of stress-relief for businessmen, corporate executives, hospitals, and even religious groups.
In fact, it has reached such widespread acceptance that even well-known Christian leaders are recommending deeper exploration into the practice of Contemplative Prayer; a practice that is virtually identical to the mystical techniques practiced by Hindus, Buddhists and New Agers.
Promoted as Spiritual Disciplines or under the banner of Spiritual Formation, much of the push for this practice has come from leaders within Catholicism. From there it has spread into the Mainline Protestant groups seeking a deeper experience of God than their theology could supply.
One can also see how the growing search for ecstatic experiences and physical manifestations within the Charismatic movement has made them vulnerable to the introduction of these ancient mystical experiences.
Kind of an out-of-the-frying-pan-and-into-the-fire experience is what they have really found.
But we will speak more of the spread of this theology later on.
What the Bible Says
For now, it is important to note that meditation is mentioned in the scriptures. It is a biblical thing to do. Throughout the Old Testament especially, we are told to dwell on the scriptures. The same goes for the New Testament
However, the goal of Christian meditation is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He is to be the focus of our mind and His words are to direct our thoughts.
All that we will ever know of God and of Christ will be guided by His word. We do not encounter Christ by some alternative route. We cannot make an end run around the Lord and still expect to find Him.
Nor can we bring our mind into some special state that is still before God.
We can, however, submit ourselves to the Lord, to look unto Him, and to allow Him to bring us to that place of stillness and rest.
What the meditation and contemplative-prayer movement is teaching is something else altogether; even though the popular literature and contemplative courses are bathed in biblically-sounding lingo.
There is no place that we can go to achieve a stillness apart from Christ Himself. He is our Rock. He is our hiding place. We must go directly to the Person of Christ.
What Will One Find in the Dark?
Contemplative Prayer, just like the ancient mystical practices it is founded upon, does not lead one to Christ.
At least not the Christ of the Bible.
There is much talk by the mystics of the cosmic Christ and achieving a Christ consciousness. Or becoming one with God.
But what does all that mean?
It means that something is happening which is life transforming to those who practice this technique.
The question is, “What exactly is happening?”
As these contemplatives descend into their inner selves seeking guidance, they have opened themselves up to a personal encounter. Wittingly or unwittingly, they have opened a gateway to an encounter with other beings. What many mystics call, beings of light.
What they are encountering is not the Lord Jesus Christ of the scriptures. Nor is it the Holy Spirit of God. Nor are these angels of God.
So then, just whom are these contemplatives meeting deep down in the dark reaches of the soul?
To Be Continued . . .