Friday, May 3, 2013

A New Age in the Church

   It never ceases to amaze me how subtle Satan can be with his deceptions....and yet so blatant. Know what I mean? It creeps in through words, phrases, and ideologies in movies we watch, in books we read, and now even from Church leaders that claim to follow Jesus Christ. It happens slowly over time and in such a way that we become desensitized to the words or ideas being introduced to us and we don't even realize it. I believe this is the way that Satan has been able to seduce Christians into accepting New Age ideas and philosophies without them ever being aware of what was happening. It is so subtle. And yet, once we know what to look for, we see it everywhere. And all of a's so blatant. Because of a massive movement of deception throughout the Church, so many Christians are embracing things heavily influenced or derived from the New Age religion, such as contemplative prayer and mysticism, The Message Bible, and yoga. 
   Many well known leaders in the Church today have begun teaching and promoting contemplative prayer, which is nothing short of a practice of meditation. However, it has been very cleverly packaged in it's presentation, so that it could appear innocent to the unsuspecting. Isn't that how it works though? It's been said that the greatest deception is 99% truth with 1% lie. Isn't that how Satan has worked since the very beginning? All he needs is for the door to be cracked open. It is SO important to check EVERYthing against what the Bible says about it - we should be like the Bereans.

"Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so." Acts 17:10-11
This short video clip is a segment taken from the documentary The Submerging Church, which was put out by Good Fight Ministries. I would recommend watching the entire movie if you ever get a chance.
   Another way that the New Age movement has crept into the Church is through the reading of Eugene Peterson's The Message "Bible" version. Though, arguably, it is not a legitimate Bible version, and is in fact quite frightening once some things are understood about it. Through the use of paraphrase, Peterson has crafted The Message to present the doctrines of mysticism to the Christian church in order to seduce believers into the occult and the New Age Movement. This should not be surprising, coming from the man that also wrote The Contemplative Pastor. The title alone should send up a red flag, since we know that the contemplative movement is heavily "New Agey." But if further convincing is necessary, lets take a quick look at his own words, found in Chapter 2 of The Contemplative Pastor: 

"I want to cultivate my relationship with God. I want all of life to be intimate—sometimes consciously, sometimes unconsciously—with the God who made, directs, and loves me. And I want to waken others to the nature and centrality of prayer. [...] I know it takes time to develop a life of prayer: set-aside, disciplined, deliberate time. Usually, for that to happen there must be a deliberate withdrawal from the noise of the day, a disciplined detachment from the insatiable self." 

   Is it just me, or are more red flags going up in regards to what we know about contemplative prayer? So, now back to The Message. Is it any wonder that Peterson's paraphrase would include some subtle and not so subtle New Age tones? The well known verses in Matthew, The Lord's Prayer, contain probably the most blatant reference to the New Age Movement. Here are the verses in the New King James Version, and then The Message.

Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name. 

Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread. 
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors. 

And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

......The Message:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
    as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
    Yes. Yes. Yes.
   Now. Aside from the fact that these are not the words Jesus spoke, notice the inclusion of the phrase "as above, so below." That is a very common New Age phrase, that is well known and understood within that movement. The book by Warren Smith, Deceived on Purpose, sheds light on this phraseology. He quotes the chief editor/author (Ronald S. Miller) of the New Age book titled As Above, So Below, in which Miller goes into detail about the phrase: 

Thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, the great master alchemist Hermes Trismegistus, believed to be a contemporary of the Hebrew prophet Abraham, proclaimed this fundamental truth about the universe: “As above, so below; as below, so above.” This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one. Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, the invisible and the visible worlds form a unity to which we are intimately linked.   

Miller continues describing the meaning of “as above, so below” by quoting Sufi scholar Reshad  Field:
“‘As above, so below’ means that the two worlds are instantaneously seen to be one when we realize our essential unity with God. . . . The One and the many, time and eternity, are all One.” (ellipsis in original)
In 2004 when I searched “as above, so below” on the Internet, the first entry listed further defined this “key” New Age term:
This phrase comes from the beginning of The Emerald Tablet and embraces the entire system of traditional and modern magic which was inscribed upon the tablet in cryptic wording by Hermes Trismegistus. The significance of this phrase is that it is believed to hold the key to all mysteries. All systems of magic are claimed to function by this formula. “‘That which is above is the same as that which is below’ . . . The universe is the same as God, God is the same as man.”
   I do not think there is any justification for why Peterson would have felt the need to insert such an obvious and well known New Age invocation into the Bible, much less portray it as coming out of the mouth of the Great I Am. (Here is an article further analyzing The Message.) Not to mention the obvious question as to whether a paraphrase of the Holy Word of God is acceptable in the eyes of the Lord. I do not think so. There is no way to paraphrase what He has said without changing, adding, or taking away from it, which is clearly forbidden in Scripture. 

"But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed." Galatians 1:8-9
"Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him. Do not add to His words, lest He rebuke you, and you be found a liar." Proverbs 30:5-6

    The last topic for today is yoga. A widely accepted practice among Christians today, who unfortunately I believe toy with fire in the "innocent" participation of it. I am not saying that every Christian who does or has done yoga is possessed by spirits, however, I think that it is dangerous in that it can open doors that a person is not even aware have been opened. It also aids in the desensitization process. We are told in Scripture to have nothing to do with darkness, and to flee from it. Why then do we think that it is not a problem participate in a New Age practice? 

"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. " 2 Cor. 14-16

   This woman had some very insightful thoughts into the subject, and while reading her article I came across a startling connection. Having never participated in any form of yoga, it was news to me that "Namaste" was a word common to yoga, usually said at the end of a class, or session, as the teacher and students bow to each other. From this website we get a full definition of the word:

"The gesture Namaste represents the belief that there is a Divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. The gesture is an acknowledgment of the soul in one by the soul in another. Nama means bow, as means I, and tenamaste literally means "bow me you" or "I bow to you." To perform Namaste, we place the hands together at the heart charka, close the eyes, and bow the head. It can also be done by placing the hands together in front of the third eye, bowing the head, and then bringing the hands down to the heart. [...] We bring the hands together at the heart chakra to increase the flow of Divine love. Bowing the head and closing the eyes helps the mind surrender to the Divine in the heart. One can do Namaste to oneself as a meditation technique to go deeper inside the heart chakra; when done with someone else, it is also a beautiful, albeit quick, meditation."  

   Does the phrase "divine spark" sound familiar? Max Lucado uses it in his book Cure for the Common Life. He shares how there is a divine spark within everyone. He says that "You have one unique gifting. A divine spark. An uncommon call to an uncommon life...." Does this seem coincidental? A little further inspection demonstrates that this was not unintentional. In an end note corresponding to the divine spark reference, Lucado quotes Martin Buber. Buber believes in Hasidic Judaism, which promotes mysticism, and that God permeates all matter with a “divine spark” which may be redeemed to perfection. This is the quote Lucado uses in his end note. 

…Jewish theologian Martin Buber writes: “The world is an irradiation of God, but as it is endowed with an independence of existence and striving, it is apt, always and everywhere, to form a crust around itself.  Thus, a divine spark lives in every thing and being, but each such spark is enclosed by an isolating shell.  Only man can liberate it in a holy manner, that is, so that his intention in doing so remains directed towards God’s transcendence.  Thus the divine immanence emerges from the exile of the ‘shells.’” [42] [emphasis in original]
   Why would Lucado not only use a phrase that is so blatantly mystical, but then go so far as to quote (and thus promote) a man who's teaching is so vastly heretical? To me, that clearly indicates that Lucado agrees with Buber, and thus has embraced false doctrine.
   There is so much more that could be discussed, so I will most likely be doing more posts relating to this topic in the future. But I hope in the meantime that you will be encouraged to be as the Bereans were and test ALL things according to the Word of God. Beware of the deception, it is so pervasive. Don't take my word for any of this, or anyone else's,  do the research yourself. I have several links on my home page to websites that have a lot of information to share on this subject and many more, and I am always adding links to that list. Hopefully those are helpful to you!

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world." 1 John 4:1-3


1 comment:

  1. Wow! Great post, Ally! I can't believe the Message "bible" saying the term--"as above, so below." That's also a big freemason and illuminati symbol and phrase! It goes with the whole "marriage of opposites" found in paganism: the yin/yang, the male/female, sons of God/daughters of men, good/evil, darkness/light . . .. As you said in your post the Bible is clear about this intentional fusing of opposites--what many New Agers call "balance;" "What fellowship has light with darkness?" (2 Cor. 6:14)
    I also agree that it is discouraging that yoga has such a stronghold within the church! A dear family member of mine is a pastor, and his wife teaches yoga. I wrote the following to them:

    " Dear ______, I read that you are now a certified yoga instructor. As I understand it,"yoga" is from the Hindu god Yogashara (also called Shiva the Destroyer). Yogashara means "master of Yoga." The Hindu god Krishna was the first yogi--the first master instructor. The word "yoga" means to yoke--to unite. But it doesn't mean to take Christ's yoke upon yourself; it means to yoke yourself to the Brahman god, the divine within, the whole universe. Yoga was never designed as a physical fitness program--it was designed to bring the yogini--the sacred feminine force incarnate--into an altered state of consciousness that would facilitate a spiritual empowerment by Brahman. There is no way to Christianize this! "What fellowship does light have with darkness?"

    "We are living in the last days and Satan would love to deceive "even the elect, if that were possible." We all have to be on our guard. A lady at our church started attending yoga classes and I mentioned to her that she was participating in eastern mysticism--a sort of self-actualization that is the diametrical opposite of " for me to live is Christ and to die is gain." I believe that after she looked into it, she realized that it was a deception. We women have to be especially careful, since we are like Eve, who was deceived, and ate. And Adam, who was there with her, never told her, "NO."

    "Guard your hearts in Christ Jesus. Guard the gate into your home! There are a ton of Christians out there who practice and endorse yoga--but they are not the standard by which we live! The bottom line for any activity must never be if other fallible humans are engaging in it--but "What does the infallible Word of God have to say on this subject?" Sola Scriptura! It is our only standard in this upside-down world!"

    ---She wrote back that she loves Jesus with all of her heart. And that was it. I can imagine that many of today's false teachers would respond the same way. It's as if you can't point out error if they say they love Jesus. But Jesus said, "if you love Me, keep my commandments!"

    Ally, thanks for holding out the Word of Truth! If the watchman stands on the wall and gives warning, he has done his job. It's up to the people who hear the warning to give heed. And in these last days, we should not be surprised that not many people WANT to give heed--not when they can go elsewhere and get their ears tickled! So, be encouraged, Ally--keep fighting the good fight!