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Archive of ‘Mysticism/New Age/Occult’ category

A note of absence and some resources

For a couple of decades, I’ve been dealing with chronic pain in my hands and arms. Since this mess of tendon, muscle, and such have gotten themselves into trouble again, I will have to take some time away to recover. However, I want to leave you with some great resources as a few of you have had questions about the New Age Movement and the occult in general. Johanna Michaelsen, Caryl Matrisciana, Warren Smith, and Ray Yungen are excellent researchers, authors, and speakers, who shed light on occult practices that have entered the church. I pray that their passion for the truth of the gospel edifies you and encourages you to help others who may be under deception. If you have little knowledge about the occult, keep in mind that it is just another lie perpetrated by our enemy. While the practices and experiences may seem ghastly and foreign, the end result for those who are deceived is the same as that for agnostics, atheists, hedonists, humanists, etc.—eternal damnation. Please have mercy on those who are lost and remember that our God is a God of salvation! (Psalm 68:20a)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soli deo gloria,

Pamela

6 Comments

I can do all things through me, myself, and I who strengthen me

 

How New Thought and the Human Potential Movement are wrongly supported by Christians through inspirational quotes.

 

Philippians 4:13 (I can do all things through Him who strengthens me) is used ad nauseam to invoke everything from winning a football game to dealing with crowds of shoppers on Black Friday to baking the perfectly risen soufflé. While God permits us to do every good work (because all good things come from God), this verse is not about being empowered to accomplish what we desire. This verse encourages us to be content in all things despite the circumstances―for example, being shipwrecked, beaten with rods and stones, or thrown into jail for the sake of the Gospel.

To add to the confusion, this verse is often followed by a self-empowered and self-glorifying ‘inspirational’ message such as the ones below:

:

strengthenme3

 

strengthenme2

 

strengthenme4

 

While there are many ideologies that give rise to this manner of unbiblical thinking, two stand out as having affected the modern church concerning positive thinking and attitude―New Thought and the Human Potential Movement. I will only give a brief overview of each; however, I will include links below the article for further research.

New Thought and Positive Thinking

New Thought has a long history; however, it picked up momentum in the 1800s. This ideology promotes an ‘Infinite Intelligence’ and a divine thought force that can be used for healing. This view claims our mental states manifest our daily living. New Thought can be found in books and the teachings of Chicken Soup for the SoulThe Secret, Oprah Winfrey, Creative Visualization (and Vision Boards), Napoleon Hill, Charles Capps, Kenneth Hagin, Paul Yonggi Cho, Kenneth Copeland, and Joyce Meyer.

Got Questions gives a brief history of New Thought and the Word of Faith Movement:

The Word of Faith movement grew out of the Pentecostal movement in the late 20th century. Its founder was E. W. Kenyon, who studied the metaphysical New Thought teachings of Phineas Quimby. Mind science (where “name it and claim it” originated) was combined with Pentecostalism, resulting in a peculiar mix of orthodox Christianity and mysticism. Kenneth Hagin, in turn, studied under E. W. Kenyon and made the Word of Faith movement what it is today. Although individual teachings range from completely heretical to completely ridiculous, what follows is the basic theology most Word of Faith teachers align themselves with.”

Examples of New Thought in the Word of Faith Movement are Joyce Meyer, who says, “You cannot have a positive, exciting life and a negative mind”, and Joel Osteen, who says, “Start believing today that things are going to change for the better. Your best days are still out in front of you.”

Also popular in Christian circles is author Norman Vincent Peale. His most successful book is The Power of Positive Thinking, which stayed on The New York Times’ list of bestsellers for 186 consecutive weeks and sold 5 million copies, making it one of the best-selling ‘religious’ books of all time. This book is a blend of Christian Science, biblical twists, and psychology that teaches that you can have peace of mind, improved health, and that your life can be full of joy and satisfaction through the power of positive thinking.

This is a telling conversation with Peale, as reported by author Walter Martin:

I will never forget my teacher, Dr. Donald Gray Barnhouse, told me of a luncheon he had with Norman Vincent Peale, who was then riding the crest of the wave on the power of positive thinking. Dr. Barnhouse chatted with him for a few minutes, and Dr. Peale said, “I would like a candid answer, Dr. Barnhouse. I know you will give me one. What do you really think of what I’ve written on the power of positive thought?”

Dr. Barnhouse said, “Well, I can only tell you what a great many clergy-men have said to me.”

“And what is that?” asked Dr. Peale.

Barnhouse replied, “Paul is appealing, but Peale is appalling.”

Dr. Peale just stopped in the middle of his soup and asked, “What?”

“You have forgotten the most important thing,” Barnhouse continued, “Before anyone can think positively, they must think negatively.”

“What do you mean?” asked Peale.

“Look”, said Barnhouse, “I am a sinner–negative or positive?”

“Negative,” said Peale.

“I am a lost sinner–negative or positive?”

“Negative.”

“I am going to eternal judgement–negative or positive?”

“Negative,” Peale repeated for the third time.

Barnhouse said, “Here are three negative propositions without which you cannot think positively. ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved’ (Acts 16:31). But if you do not think the first three, you will never get to the fourth.”

“I never thought of it that way before,” Peale replied.

Dr. Barnhouse said, “You must write a new book: The Power of Negative Thinking!

“I couldn’t do that–it would ruin me!” said Peale.

“Get out the truth,” replied Dr. Barnhouse, “and the Lord will take care of it.”

Peale never wrote the book, but he was told what he should do. The truth of the matter is this: whatever the cost, tell the truth. Speak the truth in love, but for the sake of Christ, we must speak it.”*

Shocking and sad―not just for Peale, but for the millions he has deceived.

The Human Potential Movement

This philosophy arose in the 1960s and teaches that we have unlimited potential for happiness, creativity, and fulfillment. Proponents include Brian Klemmer, Forum (Landmark), Stephen Covey, and Anthony Robbins. Popular in Christian circles is author, speaker, and former pastor John C. Maxwell who often misuses Scripture and endorses New Age teachings despite his vast amount of seminary training. His quotes include:

“The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up.”

“As a leader, the first person I need to lead is me. The first person that I should try to change is me.”

Terri Savelle Foy is another teacher who promotes human potential disguised in biblical language and misused scriptures. Her purpose is to “teach people how to make their dreams bigger than their memories and fulfill God’s assignment on their lives”. Her quotes include:

“You have to become your own best cheerleader & remember: the secret of your future is hidden in your daily ROUTINE.”

“Do not die with your potential untapped because of something that happened in the past.”

“If you’ll change what you’re SAYING ~ you’ll change what you’re SEEING! (James 3:9)”

She also promotes the use of a vision board to manifest dreams and desires.

Sadly, many women asked Foy about using vision boards, hoping to learn the magical formula to creating the ideal life.

Speculations and Lofty Opinions

2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and to take every thought captive to obey Christ. We must do that with these teachings from men, which elevate man and make him sovereign and providential instead of God. At best, these teachings promote faith in one’s ability, and at worst, they practice occult teachings. Everything we need to know has been revealed in Scripture; we should not seek out these secret things taught by men. Secrecy is not part of the Christian faith, as Jesus taught in the open (John 18:20).

We are not commanded to ‘fulfill our potential’, we are called to be holy (1 Peter 1:16). Besides, how would we know what our potential is? Are we the Alpha and Omega who sees all things from beginning to end and Who is able to bring everything together for His purposes? Those are large, sovereign shoes to fill! Is suffering (which is beneficial) or persecution (part of the Christian life) on our vision boards? If we were in charge of our potential, I doubt if the spreading of the Gospel or the glory of God would benefit at all!

Assuming that our wicked and deceitful hearts knew what was best for us, we would not need vision boards, positive thinking, or other methodologies to bring about successful living. It is God alone who fulfills our ‘potential’ (Philippians 1:6). As Proverbs 16:9 states, “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” God doesn’t need our help to make anything happenTragically, many have forgotten that God alone has complete control, authority, and power:

  • Who has spoken and it came to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? (Lamentations 3:37)
  • Our God is in the heavens; He does all that he pleases. (Psalm 115:3)
  • The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord. (Proverbs 16:33)
  • Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. (Proverbs 19:21)

Biblical Striving

While I do see value in setting and achieving goals, I sometimes wonder whose goals are being sought. Are we striving for what the world or the flesh tells us to desire? I have a sense that these vision boards would rival Dream Barbie’s lifestyle as opposed to that of Jesus Christ’s.

 

Instead of striving for worldly success:

Creflo-Dollar-Book-Prosperity-Gospel-Apostasy

 

Strive for obedience and righteousness:

overcoming-sin-john-owen

 

Friends, search the Scriptures to see if what I say is true. I pray that you will place your faith in your Creator and the Sustainer of life and stay clear of vision boards and the ‘power’ of positive thinking. I would like to leave you with a teaching on biblical thinking in hopes that we might loosen the hold of the world and the teachings of men. May it help us to strive for what is biblical and righteous, such as remaining faithful to biblical convictions, rendering love to others, and cherishing the effects of adversity, all for the glory of God alone.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

* Walter Martin, The Kingdom of the Occult (Nashville,TN: Jill Martin Rische, 2008), 665-666

Further Resources:

New Thought–A Warning for Christians

The Human Potential Movement and Motivational Seminars

The Pagan Mind Techniques of Paul Yonggi Cho

Norman Vincent Peale

John Maxwell

 

 

4 Comments

If it Heals Like a Snake and Prophesies Like a Snake, It’s Satan Masquerading as an Angel of Light

Do healings and prophecies in the modern church have more in common with the occult than the Bible?

I have been hearing about the power of the Spirit in regards to prophecy and healing frequently, and not only from professing Charismatics and Pentecostals. Is this healing and prophesying done in the power of God, or is this Satan masquerading as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14)? While Scripture is our first and highest authority, I’ve noticed that the healing and prophesying being performed in the modern church have more in common with the occult than it does with the Bible. I will discuss healing and prophesying as done in the occult, the apostate church, and the Bible.

Although I am questioning the methods and practices of man, I do believe that God still heals today.

 

When Moses prayed for the people, God instructed him to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole so the people could be healed (<a href=

When Moses prayed for the people, God instructed him to make a bronze serpent and put it on a pole so the people could be healed (Numbers 21:5-7). However, the serpent became an object of worship (2 Kings 18:4). source.

Healing in the Occult

 

May the Force Be With You

In the occult, energy and vibrations are manipulated for emotional, physical, and spiritual ‘healing’. Those in occult circles claim that this energy is an impersonal force that is in all creation. It is referred to as consciousness, energy, vibrations, spirit, or force. The goal of occult ‘energy work’ is to ‘enlighten’ the individual and to raise one’s frequency to attain a higher consciousness. In The Kingdom of the Occult, Walter Martin writes,

Energy can be defined in countless ways: creative life forces, moving power, or ley lines (energy lines said to crisscross the earth). Reiki (the energy associated with Reiki massage), Prana, polarity, chi – there are many names for occult energy–but generally it refers to the creative life forces within human beings and/or outside of them. This energy is the power that can be controlled by human beings through various means –crystals, cards, ceremonies, meditation, the correct diet, and yoga. This is the power source worshipped by the kingdom of the occult. God has revealed that this power source does not originate with Him, and that leaves only one other source: the prince of darkness–the devil (p. 324).”

Initiations and Spiritual Teachers

The occult world offers many different techniques and training in spiritual healing. Sometimes, there is an initiation or ceremony which involves a ‘transfer’ of the power or an activation of the supposed ability. Spiritual healers are channelers of energy and they impart this energy to the initiate.

Experiencing the Supernatural

A spiritual healer reports the following regarding the experiences of his client:

I have had people tell me they have experienced temperature changes, heat and coolness, tingling feelings, a feeling of weightlessness, sometimes a feeling of heaviness, feelings of their bodies moving even though they are on their back, sharp pains for a short time, which then disappear, feelings of some kind of manipulation, and have seen emotional releases (crying).”

That was also my experience as a former Reiki practitioner. During my involvement in that occult practice, there was a strong presence of energy coursing through me and my clients; there were also vibrations, heat, and emotional releases. Counterfeit feelings of ‘love and peace’ were also present. There is a definite psychic component to this type of healing, which is not surprising since holistic healing encompasses mind, body, and soul. Please not that there is also a strong connection between prophesying and healing in many apostate church ministries.

Healing in the Apostate Church

Please read the following and ask yourself if it appears biblical:

Throughout the history of the Church, Christians have been listening to the call of the Spirit, being anointed by God, and providing healing and life-saving prophetic information for others. In the church, a man or woman may be called to the gift of healing by God Himself. This call may come through a dream, or while in the wilderness, a vision. Sometimes, a serious illness may be used by God and lead to this anointing. When the call is answered and the person begins receiving impartations with an elder, the illness is often healed altogether. There are three big stages in the initiatory process: suffering, death, and resurrection.

As a discerning Christian, you’re most likely feeling uncomfortable about what you’ve just read–as you should. That statement is from a website* which promotes the occult practice of shamanism; all I did was edit the words so it appears biblical. Here is the original text (note that I did not alter the last sentence!):

“Since time immemorial, shamans have been listening to the calling of the spirits, being initiated by them and bringing back healing and life-saving oracular information for others. In indigenous cultures, a man or woman may be called to the path of the shaman by the spirits themselves. This call may come through a dream, or while in the wilderness, a vision. Sometimes, a serious illness may foreshadow the path toward shamanism. When the call is answered and the person begins training with an older shaman, the illness is often healed altogether. There are three big stages in the initiatory process: suffering, death, and resurrection.”

This exercise shows how easily the undiscerning Christian can be deceived when statements appear biblically sound. Many movements take advantage of this weakness, and they also redefine words such as ‘faith’ and ‘power’.

God is an Electric Force

In the Word of Faith movement, faith is a ‘force’ to be manipulated. This movement’s false teachers claim you have a ‘miracle in your mouth’ because words have power, and through these words, you are able to create your destiny. Likewise, faith healers speak of the anointing power that is required for healing. This power causes people to fall backwards, stumble, and/or shake uncontrollably. The faith healers claim you are ‘slain in the Spirit‘ because the power of the Spirit has come upon you.

About 40 years ago, Benny Hinn says he met this counterfeit ‘power’ at a healing crusade of the late faith healer Kathryn Kuhlman. He recalls:

As I stood in line, I suddenly began to shake. Nothing like that had ever happened before. It didn’t stop. I was too embarrassed to tell Jim or anyone around me. Even when we got to our seats on the third row of the auditorium, the shaking continued. The longer it continued, the more beautiful it became.”

After Kuhlman talks about what she perceives to be the Holy Spirit, Benny Hinn says,

At that moment, I cried and said, “I’ve got to have this!”

Then, within moments, the service was over. I was shaken to the core. God had used that service and His mighty evangelist to reveal His power that day.

All the way back to Toronto, I kept thinking, “What did she mean? What was she saying when she talked about the Holy Spirit?”

I was totally exhausted when I arrived home, but I could not sleep. As I lay on my bed, I felt as if someone were pulling me off the mattress and onto my knees. It was a strange sensation, but I didn’t resist.

I had never spoken to the Holy Spirit before. I didn’t know He could be addressed that way.

Finally, I prayed, “Holy Spirit, Kathryn Kuhlman says You are her Friend. I don’t think I know You. Before today, I thought I did. But after that meeting, I realize I really don’t. I don’t think I know You.”

Then, like a child with my hands raised, I asked, “Can I meet You? Can I really meet You?”

A few brief moments passed, then like a jolt of electricity my body began to vibrate all over again, exactly like at the church in Pittsburgh.

I was afraid to open my eyes. I felt like a warm blanket of God’s power was wrapped all over me. That continued until I finally dropped off to sleep that night. Even then, I still didn’t realize all that had happened to me.”

This interaction with the ‘Holy Spirit’ is not biblical, but it’s interesting that Benny Hinn says, “I’ve got to have this!” What is this? It sounds more like the impersonal force of the occult than the personal being of the Holy Spirit. Benny Hinn should be seeking a who, which is Jesus; not a what.

Todd Bentley is another faith healer who speaks about this force: “When people visited me at my home, they’d get zapped by an invisible electric force field in whatever room I was in, and then they’d bounce back.” Extra-biblical healing practices have a strong appeal to the senses and may cause tingling, heat, and seeing light.

Teachers and Initiations (Impartations)

As with the occult, the so-called ‘Christian’ community also has many leaders who impart power and who teach how to perform healings. This is from Bethel’s Healing School website:

At the Bethel Healing School, you will be inspired, trained, and activated in a lifestyle of healing & miracles. The school is more than just a seminar of teaching. It is a quick immersion into a culture of joy, freedom, and understanding of everything that Jesus paid for! During the school, you will increase in understanding how to carry the anointing as well as learn ways to cultivate and maintain an atmosphere conducive to healing in your churches and ministries.”

There is much nonsense in that paragraph; for instance, how is power from God ‘activated’ and where in the Bible does it teach us how to ‘carry the anointing’? Additionally, does it make sense that the Holy Spirit would give us this gift (1 Corinthians 12:11) but then require man to activate it?

Another alarming occult practice is grave sucking – the transferring of supposed energy from the dead. Many professing Christians do this bizarre ritual. Benny Hinn admits to frequenting the tomb of Kathryn Kuhlman to receive anointing from her dead and decomposed body. Well, this is nothing but necromancy. Todd Bentley claims to have received his anointing from false teacher William Branham, even though Branham had died nine years before the birth of Bentley.

Putting aside anointings from the dead, consider what this article from LetUsReason.org says about anointings in general:

Many today are taught to get an impartation from the anointed preacher. There is no need when Scripture states we all have the same standing before God; all believers have the same Holy Spirit and Christ as our mediator. We can all receive from Jesus, who is the one we should all be seeking. Going to a certain person or meeting to seek an anointing by impartation is unbiblical. No other person is to be our mediator to receive the Holy Spirit. Whenever men become mediators, Christ’s teachings diminish and men’s teachings increase. We are then giving them, not the Lord control over our lives.

Laying hands on the sick to pray is not the same as imparting the spirit and watching them buckle.

A ‘transferable anointing’ is not seen nor practiced anywhere in Scripture. We also find that the Apostles did not rush around laying hands on people to impart an experience of ‘fire’ or power. They did not chant words over and over and expect a immediate response. The impartations done today that come through certain men are not the true anointing, who is the Spirit of God. Only God can give the Spirit; Jesus is the baptizer of the Holy Spirit, not man. Man cannot control God- there is no teaching on how to obtain or release the anointing to another.”

John MacArthur also warns, “Dear ones, Jesus is the only mediator between God and man, right? Demons are mediators between hell and man. They make captives out of man”.

Supernatural Experiences

As explained above, the healings of the apostate church provide sensations of electricity, shaking, and vibrating. When I was still spiritually immature and lost, I experienced similar sensations with two different faith healers, and these abnormal feelings were uncannily similar to the electric sensations I had experienced  as a Reiki practitioner.

Healing itself is not proof that it came from God; also, it’s worth knowing that falling to the ground (or lying prostrate, e.g.) in repentance and grief over one’s sin is very different to falling backwards and shaking uncontrollably.

 

Healing In the New Testament

We are commanded to test all things (1Thessalonians 5:21), including the spirits (1John4:1), and when we examine the healings in the New Testament, we see that they were instantaneous and permanent. Since they were obvious and public, they went unchallenged. The apostles were given authority to heal every disease and every affliction–unlike what we see at healing crusades, where those in wheelchairs are pushed to the sidelines.

Do healings and prophecies in the modern church have more in common with the occult than the Bible?

The Pythia, commonly known as the Oracle of Delphi, was the name of any priestess throughout the history of Temple of Apollo. The Pythia was widely credited for her prophecies inspired by Apollo. source

Prophecy (fortune-telling) in the Occult

Merriam-Webster defines a fortune-teller as “a person who claims to use special powers to tell what will happen to someone in the future.”** Fortune-tellers work with energy as well and claim to be sensitive to vibrations from the spirit world. Since Satan and demons are not omnipresent or omniscient, fortune-tellers’ predictions are often wrong. However, they know that if they get some things right or are able to manipulate circumstances in favor of their predictions, that their victims will be held captive. Divination practices such as astrology, palmistry, and tarot reading are never entirely accurate; however, millions of people are in bondage to these enchantments. God forbids fortune-telling (Deuteronomy 18:10-13).

Prophecy In the Apostate Church

If we believe that the office of prophet is still active today, then we have a duty to test and investigate the practices and prophecies being made against Scripture.

GotQuestions.org says,

Prophecy – The Greek word translated “prophesying” or “prophecy” in both passages properly means to “speak forth” or declare the divine will, to interpret the purposes of God, or to make known in any way the truth of God which is designed to influence people. The idea of telling the future was added sometime in the Middle Ages and is in direct contradiction to other scriptural passages that condemn such fortune-telling or predicting the future (Acts 16:16-18).”

The kind of prophesying we see in the apostate church is one of fortune-telling. God has already revealed in Scripture all that He desires us to know. As Jude says, we have the faith once delivered (Jude 1:3). However, many people are dissatisfied and seek personal revelations, despite the command not to go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6). Not only are the vast predictions of modern-day prophets incorrect, but their collective theology is among the worst in the church. If the Holy Spirit, who is truth (John 16:13), is actually the one giving these revelations to these fraudsters, why would He not first correct their doctrine?

Prophecy In the Bible

In the New Testament era, the early believers did not have the completed Bible, so prophets (or apostles) proclaimed messages from the Lord. Prophets were foundational to the church (Ephesians 2:20), and they were 100% accurate.

Furthermore, GotQuestions.org says:

Note the transition from prophet to teacher in 2 Peter 2:1: “There were false prophets among the people, even as there shall  be false teachers among you” (emphasis added). Peter indicates that the Old Testament age had prophets, whereas the church will have teachers. The spiritual gift of prophecy, in the sense of receiving new revelations from God to be proclaimed to others, ceased with the completion of the Bible. During the time that prophecy was a revelatory gift, it was to be used for the edification, exhortation, and comfort of men (1 Corinthians 14:3). The modern gift of prophecy, which is really more akin to teaching, still declares the truth of God. What has changed is that the truth of God today has already been fully revealed in His Word, while, in the early church, it had not yet been fully revealed.”

Examining the Fruit

Mysticism and the occult seduce the flesh because they provide subjective experiences and promise to reveal secret knowledge. This is the opposite of how Christians are commanded to live. We walk by faith in God, trusting that He will direct our steps (Proverbs 16:9). Much of what is occurring in the apostate church is divination and speaking to spirits – forms of sorcery that mark the lives of unbelievers (Galatians 5:19-21). Sorcerers are given power by Satan to lead people away from God (Matthew 24:242 Thessalonians 2:9) and since there will always be sorcerers, even in the end times (Revelation 18:23), we must always be vigilant (1Peter 5:8).

One of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:23), not falling down and shaking uncontrollably or speaking false prophecies – these practices are the work of Satan. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit does not allow Himself to be the focus; He does not seek the spotlight.This is in direct contrast to the blasphemous way that these unbiblical ministries so falsely portray the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit glorifies Jesus, not Himself (John 16:14); the Holy Spirit also testifies about Jesus (John 15:26), not about Himself.

Our enemy always promises something that we think will benefit us, and it’s important to remember that our minds can be corrupted (2 Corinthians 11:3). To think that we cannot be deceived simply because we are Christians is contrary to the many New Testament warnings about deceptions. To assume we can dabble in the occult because of a response to an altar call is as much a lie as the belief that the occultists can surround themselves with ‘white light’ to protect themselves from evil spirits. If we claim to follow Jesus, then we should truly follow Him. We should have nothing to do with pagan and occult practices. Do not be deceived – God performs miracles; Satan performs magic.

Friends, do not subject yourself to anything that ‘awakens’ you, that encourages you to open your heart, or that manipulates energy. Do not seek ‘fresh fire’, new revelations, or impartations. If God desires for you to be healed, trust that He will providentially provide for the healing. Do not believe everything you hear, but test the spirits (1 John 4:1). Let’s leave signs and wonders alone; instead, let’s strive to be holy and righteous, and living a life that’s pleasing to God.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

* http://www.shamanicuniverse.com/shamanic-initiation.html

** “Fortune-teller.” Merriam-Webster.com, n.d Web.24 May. 2015. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fortune-teller

Additional Resources:

A Call For Discernment Part 1, 2, 3

Kundalini Warning Part 1, 2, 3

Is the anointing tangible and transferable; can we impart it?

The Lord Told Me – I Think!

 

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“Psst … Lectio Divina … your mysticism is showing.”

Beware! Lectio Divina is a mystical practice

 

One thing I appreciate about the clothing of Jesus’ day is that there were no zippers or grommets to contribute to a possible wardrobe malfunction. People from that time also didn’t have to worry about removing of an overkill of stickers and price tags from clothing. And who is not grateful when told a dryer sheet is stuck to a sweater? Oh, but are we grateful when someone points out our theological loose threads? Just as we would inspect and remove an offending item from clothing, are we just as quick to inspect and remove faulty doctrine from our lives? Are we as teachable with our theology as we are with our outward appearances?

Recently, I was privy to a conversation regarding the promotion of the mystical practice of lectio divina. Thankfully, there were many discerning women warning of it; however, there were many who could not see the error of this practice. Lectio divina has gathered momentum in evangelical circles and, like most deceptive practices, there is much ignorance regarding its origin and intent. I do appreciate the desire to be closer to God; however, we walk by faith, not by experience and feelings.

 

Beware of Lectio Divinia

 

What Is Lectio Divina?

Pronounced “lex-ee-o di-veen-a”, it is Latin for “divine reading” and “is undertaken not with the intention of gaining information but of using the texts as an aid to contact the living God.”* It is popular among Catholics and Gnostics and has gained wide acceptance within the emerging church. In general, lectio divina is being promoted as a form of Bible study and is found within the unbiblical practice of spiritual formation. Sadly, this practice has found its way into the evangelical/protestant church too, and many teachers and preachers are openly promoting and endorsing this unbiblical practice. Note that other faiths practice lectio divina too; so it does not matter whether one is reading from the Koran or the Bible, all one has to do is ‘adopt’ this practice for Christianity – you know, as the visible church has done with yoga.

The practice is described as follows, courtesy of Lighthouse Trails Research:

Reading (lectio)—Slowly begin reading a biblical passage as if it were a long-awaited love letter addressed to you. Approach it reverentially and expectantly, in a way that savors each word and phrase. Read the passage until you hear a word or phrase that touches you, resonates, attracts, or even disturbs you.

Reflecting (meditatio)—Ponder this word or phrase for a few minutes. Let it sink in slowly and deeply until you are resting in it. Listen for what the word or phrase is saying to you at this moment in your life, what it may be offering to you, what it may be demanding of you.

Expressing (oratio)—If you are a praying person, when you are ready, openly and honestly express to God the prayers that arise spontaneously within you from your experience of this word or phrase. These may be prayers of thanksgiving, petition, intercession, lament, or praise. If prayer is not part of your journey, you could write down the thoughts that have come your way.

Resting (contemplatio)—Allow yourself to simply rest silently for a time in the stillness of your heart, remaining open to the quiet fullness of God’s love and peace. This is like the silence of communion between the mother holding her sleeping infant child, or between lovers whose communication with each other passes beyond words.”

Where are these steps in Scripture? Surely, if we needed to repeat words many times over, it would be in the Bible. In fact, in Matthew 6:7 Jesus instructs us to do the opposite: “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again (NLT).”

Common Misperceptions about Lectio Divina

1. “It’s been practiced throughout the history of the Church”

First, lectio divina was started around the year 220 by contemplative monks, but the four steps date back only to the 12th century**. Second, which “church” are we talking about? The roots of this practice lie in Catholicism and has no ties to the true church of which Jesus Christ is the only cornerstone and head (Colossians 1:18). Catholics who are knowledgeable of and practice lectio divina, boldly declare it as mysticism, and they do not claim that it is found in Scripture. Additionally, as many have pointed out, if this practice is vital to ‘experiencing God’, then what did the church do before the year 220? Truly, the Body of Christ – the true Church – has nothing to do with this heretical and unbiblical practice.

2. “The Bible says we are to meditate and pray”

Yes, we should; however, the proponents of lectio divina have redefined meditation and prayer. These people do not mean biblical prayer – they mean contemplative prayer, which seeks to empty one’s mind to hear the ‘still small voice’ of God. Consider this description of meditation (courtesy of Southern View Chapel):

Meditatio: the next step is meditation but not meditation as we normally would understand it. Boa describes meditation as “a spiritual work of holy desire and an interior invitation for the Spirit to pray and speak within us (Romans 8:26-27).” [28]  Two brief thoughts before we move on.  First, note the misinterpretation of Romans 8:26-27, which is virtually universal in mystical literature.  The text does not promise that the Holy Spirit will speak to us in prayer but that He will intercede with the Father for us as we pray. This is an important and often overlooked point.”

and

‘Christian’ mystic Madame Guyon writes, “[In lectio you are not reading the Scriptures to gain some understanding but to] turn your mind from outward things to the deep parts of your being. You are not there to learn to read, but…to experience the presence of your Lord!”

Since our Lord is the Word (John 1:1), to what ‘lord’ is Madame Guyon referring (2 Corinthians 11:4)?

Part of the misunderstanding is the belief that lectio divina is merely prayerful reading. However, according to mystics, “it is the focusing on and repeating a word or small phrase to facilitate going into the ‘silence'”. Indeed, and that is the real danger. As this article in Lighthouse Trails Research points out, “There is certainly nothing wrong with reading Scripture carefully and thoughtfully. Thoughtfully, we say. In eastern-style meditation (and in contemplative prayer) thoughts are the enemy.”

In lectio divina, Scripture is merely a tool to bring about a mystical experience. A word or phrase becomes a mantra where it is repeated over and over, and the words become what the practitioner’s imagination or other influences – be they internal or external – come up with. The words do not hold the meaning that the original authors intended. In effect, what the adherents of this practice are saying is that Scripture isn’t sufficient and that extra-biblical revelation is needed – additional, personal revelation gleaned through man-made works. We are warned about being taken captive by human tradition (Colossians 2:8).

3. “It has affected me for good”

Why hasn’t Scripture done this? The Word of God thoroughly equips us (2 Timothy 3:15-17) and is perfect (Psalm 19:7). What is being gained through a mystical experience that trumps the Word of God? Nowhere in Scripture are experiences heralded; in fact, we have the more sure Word (2 Peter 1:19), which outranks experiences. Additionally, the Word of God, through the Holy Spirit, convicts us of sin (Hebrews 4:12). It is good to be convicted and led to repentance, so we can become holy (1 Peter 1:16), as God expects us to be.

The different forms of contemplative prayer that I used to practice soothed and pacified me; I was courted for pride and destruction. My sin and wretchedness never came to mind during my devotional time because my wicked and deceitful heart always deceived me (Jeremiah 17:9). During this contemplative period, I was never affected for good because I needed a truth that was outside of me – the objective and authoritative Word of God.

4. “I belong to Christ; this has nothing to do with Satan”

Practicing man-made techniques and basing our approval on them through subjective evaluation and misinterpreted Scripture are dangerous. We are to renew our minds through the Word of God (Romans 12:2), not empty them; and we are commanded to guard our wicked hearts, not open them (Proverbs 4:23).

It’s erroneous to think one can be a Christian and practice whatever ‘spiritual’ ritual or fad one wants. Whenever the Israelites were about to enter a foreign land, God would warn them to stay clear of the pagans’ “abominable practices” (Deuteronomy 18:9-11). In our age of global travel and global communication, these pagan practices have come to us; and so we need to be on full alert (1 Peter 5:8). Additionally, the entire Bible is packed with warnings to the church about false teachings – simply because something is taught within the walls of a church does not necessarily make it biblical.

Unfortunately, many Christians believe Satan and his minions are only involved with Ouija Boards and spirit mediums; unfortunately, this misunderstanding is further complicated by deceptive TV shows and movies (Long Island Medium, Ouija, etc.) that glorify and glamorize these occult activities and that basically applaud Satan’s evil craftiness. Yes, of course Satan and his demons have a hand in these things. However, using his subtle deception, it’s inside the church where he does his best work. It’s within the ‘safe’ confines of a church that he deceives through false doctrine and tempts with experiences, personal revelations, and secret knowledge. He doesn’t show up as the visible boogeyman in pew number nine; he shows up as falsehood. Certainly, if he did show up in person, he would sit in the center of the front row, smiling, and clutching a well-worn Bible.

R.C. Ryle quote

 

The claim of this quote is supported by this Southern View Chapel excerpt about lectio divina. As we’ll see, an expository understanding of Scripture is frowned upon:

How the believer mines the treasures of Scripture is through the normal, literal (often called grammatical/historical) approach to its reading and study.  As God’s truth is understood through this process, it is then to be applied to our lives through the power of the Holy Spirit. This is not the approach to Scripture recommended and promoted within spiritual formation.  As a matter of fact, this approach is often ridiculed as merely an intellectual process that does not reach the inner person and does not lead to transformation.  Instead, we are told that if our lives are to be truly reformed by the Bible we must turn to an ancient technique, never actually taught in the Word itself, known as lectio divina.

Ruth Haley Barton adds that while reading we are to listen “for the word or the phrase that strikes us…we have a sense of expectancy that God will speak to us.  After reading there is a brief period of silence in which we remain with the word, savoring it and repeating it without trying to figure out what it means or why it was given.”

Rather than turning us to the Word of God to hear the Lord’s voice, lectio turns us inward to attempt to listen to a subjective thought that is being interpreted as coming from the Lord.  In addition, Barton cautions her readers not to think too much about the passage at this stage, rather “keep coming back to the word that we have been given.” [30] The word “given” to one of the students of Yaconelli, while reading about Jesus sitting in a boat, was “cushion.” After repeating the word “cushion” over and over “for the longest time” until he started to remember his grandmother lying on a pillow just before she died, the youth felt so peaceful he nearly went to sleep. [31]. This was supposedly the message that God was speaking to this young man from Mark 4:35-41.”

How tragic that Scripture is utilized for this! Since the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth, and seeing that the above eisegesis is unbiblical, exactly what spirit was guiding Yaconelli’s student?

Conclusion

I long to see my sisters and brothers free in Jesus; I long to see them consciously deciding not to chase after Satan and fall for his age-old lies. There is a growing appetite for experiencing God, and the enemy is more than happy to see us gorge on his deceit. Pagan religions seek to ‘experience’ God, whereas Christians live by faith. As true believers, we are partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) – how much closer to God can we be?

Therefore, if someone says to you, “Psst, you need a theological alteration”, please pray for discernment and knowledge (Psalm 119:66). Test everything (1 Thessalonians 5:21), and do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

Soli Deo Gloria

Pamela

Recommended resources:

Moody’s Pastors’ conference and lectio divina

Got Questions

http://www.lectio-divina.org/

** http://www.neomysticism.com/lectio-divina.html

 

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The True Spiritual Direction of Spiritual Formation

Spiritual Formation/Spiritual Direction is unbiblical

Last year, I was at a spiritual crossroad and I had some decisions to make. Any direction would have been ‘biblical’, but I was convinced there was one specific, narrow path that God had painstakingly planned; as such, I believed that if I missed that path it would ruin my life, ruin the world around me…and Jesus would never return!

Without vocalizing that insanity (and hyperbole), I sought guidance regarding my life’s direction from the teaching pastor at my former church. He suggested spiritual formation (or spiritual direction). I asked around, and a friend who was in full time ministry assured me that spiritual formation was biblical. Satisfied, I booked my appointment with a Spiritual Director through the Tyndale University & College Seminary. Its website states,

Spiritual Directors are those who have received specific training in Bible, Theology, and Spiritual Formation, who assist individuals (called directees) in their spiritual journey. Spiritual directors are interested in the spiritual health, well-being, and spiritual growth of the directees they serve. Spiritual Directors provide this ministry through regular one-on-one sessions (or group sessions) that are focused on listening to, and working with both the directee and the Holy Spirit.”

I now clearly see the red flags in this description; however, back then this definition seemed okay. Famous last words, right? Additionally, not only did my pastor recommend it, but the sessions were also going to be held at Tyndale, which exists in part “to honour William Tyndale, the early English reformer whose commitment to making the Scriptures available to all persons led him to undertake the first English translation of the Bible, at the cost of his own life. Surely, the college would not permit anything that would disgrace this martyr’s name, would it?

At the time, I was completely deceived by many false teachings, but had somehow managed to escape the practices of Roman Catholic mysticism. That was about to change.

 

spiritual formation session

Eager to begin my new direction in life, I met with my Spiritual Director, whose quiet way of being and acceptance was exactly what I needed in this confusing time. In the early sessions, she explained that God had made me a certain way; subsequently, she shared many “impressions” about my relationship with God, and these impressions were often paired with Scripture verses. In determining ‘God’s will’ for my life, my first assignment was to make a scrapbook of my interests and of everything that was important in my life…because it’s all about me, right?

During one session, I was directed (a spiritual formation technique) to think of the scene in Matthew 8:23-27 in which Jesus calmed the storm. I was asked to imagine myself in the scene and to ask Jesus what He wanted me to do in my life. I asked my director if this was contemplative prayer, because I had heard that it was dangerous. She assured me it wasn’t since we were filling my mind with Scripture and scenes from the Bible. My mind assuaged, I continued with the exercise.

In the following weeks, many exercises started with prayer to Jesus. These prayers were followed by silence, so I could ‘listen’ to what Jesus would say. Naturally, the name of Jesus flowed constantly. We also prayed before the sessions, declaring that the room we were in was for Jesus only and demons were not allowed in there. I wasn’t sure how that provided a fortress of spiritual protection-we might as well have encircled ourselves with ‘protective white light’ while we were at it.

Following on, my director advised me to read works by contemplative mystic Brennan Manning, Roman Catholic mystic Henri Nouwen, and a book about interpreting my dreams, which I had read as a former New Ager (that’s why I ignored this last piece of advice altogether).

Are you perhaps wondering why I remained ignorant about this practice in which I was a willing participant? Well, by now my pastor, seminary graduates, and ‘mature’ Christians had all given their support to this. One of the formation’s defenders got exasperated at my questioning and told me I needed to read the Bible more. She was correct, but oh, the irony. Looking back, I had put the opinions of man above the Word of God and had also made God’s will an idol. I had been so focused on trying to find what He wanted for me that I missed Him altogether.

Back to the trainwreck.

 

train wreck of spiritual formation

 

Outside of the sessions, I studiously completed my readings, and I practiced the so-called presence of Jesus. I was also attuned to any ‘signs’ of God in the world, thanks to Henri Nouwen and his book, ironically named:

 

 henri nouwen discernment

 

Having come out of various New Age and occult practices that had taught me how to be ‘one’ with everything and to look for synchronicity, I was unfortunately rather good at this. And so, once again, I started worshipping the creation and not the Creator (Romans 1:25).

I continued seeing my Spiritual Director for another month (two months in total). While I wasn’t one hundred percent sure that spiritual formation was unbiblical, I had an uneasy feeling, which was enough for me to stop attending the sessions.

Discerning the True Spiritual Direction of Spiritual Formation

The spiritual direction I was heading in was leading me to devastating eternal consequences, and the Jesus I was invoking was the one spoken of in 2 Corinthians 11:4:

 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.”

And like so many in the visible church, I too ‘put up with it readily enough’.

Through contemplative prayer, I was unknowingly communing with a different Jesus. Looking through my well-kept journal from those sessions recently, I noticed words like ‘surrender’, ‘gentle’, ‘presence’, ‘the Way’, and ‘paths’, all words which are commonly found in channeled books (such as Jesus Calling) which are the products of this mystical form of prayer. 

Works-Based Perfection

Spiritual formation was developed from Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox mysticism, and it promotes the idea that we journey inward and engage in disciplines to develop the likeness of Jesus Christ. Disciplines such as meditation (listening silence), contemplative prayer, and solitude are just a few of the disciplines that without we purportedly cannot experience true spiritual growth.

Spiritual formation teaches that anyone can practice these mystical rituals, and that anyone is able to find God within himself or herself. It is a works-based practice to becoming perfected, which in itself is a lie. I was told, “Once we are aware what our responsibility is, that is where the transformation will happen”. This is in stark contrast to what Scripture declares:

  • Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth (John 17:17)
  • Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
  • God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth (2 Thessalonians 2:13)
  • And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6)

You see, only God is able to sanctify us; only God can make us conform to the image of Christ. True spiritual transformation occurs when we realize we are sinners who need to be forgiven and who need to be reconciled to God through the atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. As we submit to God and the Holy Spirit, God transforms us. He transforms us.

While consulting my journal for this post, I noticed it was exactly a year ago (from the time this entry was posted) that I repented of spiritual formation and its dark practices. The truth did not come to me from any mystical practice or discipline, and it did not come from a sign in nature or from the silence in my mind. It came only because God had chosen to reveal the truth out of His mercy and grace, delivered through the more sure word of God, which is all we need (2 Timothy 3:16).

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

Resource for further understanding:

Ray Yungen – Rise of Spiritual Formation

Christian Research Network: Spiritual Formation

Dangers of Spiritual Formation

Contemplative Prayer and the Evangelical Church by Ray Yungen (PDF)

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The Dangers of Hypnosis

The Dangers of Hypnosis. Christians should not participate in this practice.

 

You’ve most likely experienced different states of awareness, whether having been lost in thought while driving a familiar route, singularly focusing on a project, or watching a movie with rapt attention. These scenarios all have the hallmarks of a hypnotic trance–slight amnesia, time distortion, and loss of awareness of your surroundings and of your body. It’s probably happening now to some extent, or did you realize your tongue was touching the back of your teeth?

While these altered states of awareness are a normal everyday part of being human, I must underline that the act of inducing trance states– regardless of the purpose and person doing it–is abnormal.

What is Hypnosis?

There are many definitions; however, this one from freedictionary.com explains it well: “An artificially induced state of relaxation and concentration in which deeper parts of the mind become more accessible”.

Generally, hypnosis is used for pain relief in place of anaesthesia, to cause psychological change, and in occult practices.

How Hypnosis is Induced

When I was a practicing hypnotherapist, and upon meeting clients for the first time, I would begin to build rapport by matching how they spoke, breathed, and positioned themselves; furthermore, I’d used various other methods, which I’ll discuss in a future post. My point is that I used techniques outside the awareness levels of my clients–all for the sole purpose of affecting and building agreement with their subconscious minds.

Fun fact: Who hasn’t seen a hypnotist swinging a watch in front of someone’s eyes? The deft practitioner would then tell the client, “You are getting sleepy”, or “Your eyelids are getting heavy”. Well, this procedure aids in inducing a hypnotic trance: As the client keeps his or her head level and following the pendulum-like movements of the watch, the client’s eyelids do get heavy. Go ahead…try it! While keeping your head level and still, gaze up and pretend to follow an imaginary watch that is swinging a few inches in front of your forehead. I’ll wait.

Exhausting, isn’t it? When the hypnotist remarks how tiring it is, the subconscious mind agrees and is primed for further agreement.

Next, as I instructed my clients to relax, I would use manipulative language patterns to help them go into a trance, and then to bypass the “critical mind”. Every waking second, we are being fed tons of information–from sights and sounds to words and thoughts. Once someone is in a trance, the hypnotist can bypass the factor that judges information and may then implant suggestions for change.

(Note: No, a person will not go rob a bank if that particular suggestion is planted nor will someone be able to recall the information in a set of encyclopedias should one be read to that person while under hypnosis.)

Outside of my practice, I consulted for a chain of hypnosis centers that used a light and sound machine to affect the brain waves of clients. The machine looked much like this one:

 

 

I don’t recall receiving any specific knowledge regarding this machine. My instructions were simply to make sure the lights and sounds were not loud and to be careful not to use the machine on epileptics, as it could cause seizures. Scary, eh?

Limited Training

The majority of my clients wanted relief from addictions, phobias, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. Astonishingly, my certification to become a hypnosis practitioner and master practitioner took only about one month; the training for the chain of hypnosis centers was much shorter.

And then this revealing piece from a decades–long practicing veteran and one of the leading hypnotists in the world: “Right now, our view is that most certifications mean nothing anyway. The certifying bodies are usually owned by the trainer, and some of the larger certification bodies provide what we consider garbage training.”

Garbage training; I agree. Truth be told: not a single hypnosis practitioner, despite reputation, has the right to dig around in the minds of others.

Is Hypnosis Mind Control?

This is a common question. Naturally, opponents of hypnosis say it is mind control while defenders claim it is not. 

This site claims that hypnosis is not mind control. It says:

Hypnosis is no more mind control than watching TV, listening to a political speech, or attending a worship service. It is my belief that a person will not do anything under hypnosis that is against his/her will.”

This statement makes hypnosis seem like an innocent and non-invasive technique. Don’t people go to a hypnotherapist so that another person (the therapist) can control their minds in order to bring about therapeutic change? These defenders can’t sit on the fence by claiming their technique is as innocent as watching TV, and yet attempt to attract clients by proclaiming hypnosis is powerful enough to help people overcome their battles. A little logic, please.

While people will not do anything while under hypnosis that is against their will, the clients certainly are seeking techniques that will override their will. For instance, people without the willpower to stop smoking are seeking another person to change their wills for them in order to quit.

The Arguments from Professing Christians Who Defend Hypnosis

Look at the last sentence in this quote from a United Methodist pastor (bold is mine):

I’ve been a hypnotist for 17 years. And for 17 years I’ve had to deal with people who think hypnosis is of the devil. Where do they get such a notion? Usually, it comes from the non-expert, expert. People who think they know, but they don’t know. People who make blanket statements without researching the facts. People whom you would think know better, but they don‘t. Usually, most objections come from Evangelical Christians who believe the Bible is inerrant [without error]. If the Bible says it, it must be true.”

 

john macarthur

 

Exactly, John MacArthur! There’s the problem right there. Anyone who believes the Bible is errant can make up the rules as he or she goes along.

Oddly, the Methodist pastor then goes on to teach us exegesis and attempts to defend his practice of hypnosis; he states there are no verses in the Bible that prohibit hypnosis. There are also no verses in the Bible that prohibit eating sand, but guess what’s not on the menu tonight?

This pastor also brings out the overused “people fear what they do not understand” defense. Well, many others and I perfectly understand. May I respond with, “people promote the evil that they do not discern”?

Then there’s this  minister and director of hypnotherapy who says,

Some would say that there is no place in religion for hypnosis. I believe that hypnosis and religious faith can work hand in hand to bring about a better life. Jesus said in St. John 10:10, “I am come that you may have life and have it more abundantly.”

Well, in that case, if a better and abundant life is what we’re after, then anything goes.

 

Joel Osteen

 

I think he is, Joel!

This minister goes on to say,

There are certainly some strong prohibitions in some Christian books, but the readership is, I think, restricted to fundamentalists.”

So it’s all occult fun and games until those pesky “fundamentalists” show up–you know, the ones who believe the Bible is inerrant and authoritative.

He continues, “Hypnosis is one of the gifts of God which help people experience the ‘more abundant life'”.  Really? What’s the chapter and verse for that?

There I go, getting all “fundamentalist” again.

What Do the Fundamentalists Say?

In Occult Invasion, Dave Hunt says,

Spontaneous “memories” of past and future lives (about one-fifth involving existence on other planets) often surface. Hypnotic trance also duplicates the experiences common under the stimulation of psychedelic drugs, TM and other forms of yoga and Eastern meditation. Moreover, hypnotized subjects spontaneously manifest psychic powers, clairvoyance, out-of-body experiences, and the whole range of occult phenomena (p.454)”.

Hunt also says,

“If the human spirit operates the brain, which in turn operates the body, then…hypnosis…and any other technique for altering consciousness could very well loosen the normal connection between the spirit and the brain. That temporary disconnection could allow another spirit to operate the brain and thereby subject that person to occult bondage and delusion (p. 67)”.

In The Kingdom of the Occult, Walter Martin gives an example of another spirit operating the brain in this chilling account of Hollywood star Glenn Ford, who submitted to hypnosis to explore his “previous lives”:

He [Ford] discovered he had been killed in a duel in one of his past lives. A sword penetrated his body, and Ford described the pain under hypnosis. But as real as this sword wound seemed to be, the whole story was nothing but a clever occult farce.

When Glenn Ford awoke, the hypnotist pointed to a birthmark as the exact spot where his wound occurred in a previous incarnation, and Ford believed it after listening to himself speak fluent French on audiotape – a language he had never learned. And it was not modern French. UCLA experts analyzed the tape and determined that Ford was speaking a Parisian dialect common in seventeenth-century France (p.254-255)”.

Dave Hunt explains: “Satan is behind the world of reincarnation, and he supplies all the data. He details all the regressions, so it is not surprising when the details check out” (p.255).

Past life regression (PLR), psychic communication, seances, automatic writing, and hypnosis have long been connected to the occult. Hypnosis is dangerous not only because another person is affecting your mind, but also because Satan is always looking for any opportunity to destroy (1 Peter 5:8).

What Does the Bible Say?

  • The fruit of the spirit is self-control (Galatians 5:22). Hypnosis is giving someone else control.
  • Above all else, guard your heart (Proverbs 4:23). The heart is what affects speech and conduct. We must guard our heart, not let down our guard.
  • Renew your mind by studying the Word of God and meditate on it day and night (Psalm 1:2). Do not empty your mind.
  • We are to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). We can’t do that when we’re in a trance state and under suggestion by another. 

Hypnosis does not glorify God or lead to Jesus. Beloved, walk in the truth of the Lord (Psalm 86:11), conquer your thoughts with spiritual warfare (2 Corinthians 10:4-5), and submit yourself to God only (James 4:7).

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

Free ebook from PsychoHeresy: Hypnosis: Medical, Scientific, or Occultic?

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Witnessing to New Agers

What is the New Age Movement and how do I witness to them?

 

The New Age Movement (NAM) has been very successful at infiltrating our society. Its principles, beliefs, and practices are everywhere: In business, entertainment, sports, health, schools, our homes, and even the evangelical church. New Age authors and leaders such as Louise Hay, Deepak Chopra and Wayne Dyer (who died in August 2015), and countless others, have been seducing and lying to Christians for decades. Unsuspecting believers assume these authors are merely dishing out solid advice on good health or spiritual matters; however, a true Berean would quickly point out that these deceivers’ teachings are not scriptural at all.

Before I address the witnessing aspect, it’s important to understand the views of this movement. I have kept it brief; however, since its teachings encompass a variety of philosophies, religions, and practices, I’ve supplied links below the article, should you want to learn more.

What is the New Age Movement and what are Its Views?

The Age of Aquarius is the belief that Earth is moving into an astronomical age in which we will realize that man is God, or that God is within. As we know, the idea of self-deification isn’t new–it goes back to the Garden of Eden and has been haunting us ever since.

When I was a New Ager, I viewed Christians as having good intentions, but scoring low on the “spiritual totem pole”. I saw Christians’ rules and lifestyle, but to me, those things were not spirituality; I assumed Christians would ascend higher through incarnations (a series of future lifetimes). I viewed the Bible as one of many holy books, but I never read it, as I didn’t think it would contain any helpful guidance on attaining ‘enlightenment’.

Because those in the New Age Movement like to redefine words and concepts, or try not be “limited” by them, it can be difficult trying to reason with them–the postmodern views that “there is no such thing as absolute truth”, and that “what is true for you is not true for me” apply. Additionally, clouding their minds is the belief that all religions lead to enlightenment, as we are all on our own paths.

The NAM’s View of God

Monism (the belief that everything is one) and pantheism (a universal force that is god) are two prominent views of “god”. I believed the universal force was sovereign, but that everything in existence was a part of it. Beliefs are very fluid and subjective in the NAM; regardless, the “Divine” is an impersonal force. New Age techniques are used to attain a “high vibration” and to raise one’s consciousness to attain true oneness with this force. Feelings of joy, awe, excitement, and peace are common, which only reinforce the belief that the NAM practitioner has found “truth”.

The NAM’s View of Jesus

Jesus is viewed as a man who attained spiritual enlightenment through New Age/occult practices, just as Buddha and Zoroaster did. In their view, Jesus is not Christ or king.

The NAM’s View of Salvation

The NAM dictates that man is busy evolving towards godhood through reincarnation. Since people pay for the actions of their previous lives (incarnation), this aspect of the NAM is a futile and works-based religion.

Witnessing to New Agers

1. Pray!

This is a spiritual battle, and the real enemy is Satan and not the people you are witnessing to (Ephesians 6:12-13). Pray that God would allow them to see the light of the Gospel that the god of this world has blinded them to (2 Corinthians 4:4), also pray that God would grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:25).

2. Be Gentle While Tackling New Agers’ Arguments

New Agers are just people, and they don’t all share the same views. So ask specific questions about what and why they believe. For instance, ask the following: “What do you think about the reality of human evil?” New Age thinking lacks an objective moral basis, since everyone creates his or her own moral reality. If you were to punch a New Ager in the face (which I’m not advocating), that unfortunate person would surely view that punch as wrong. Christianity offers an objective moral reality that the NAM viewpoint doesn’t.

Concerning the Christian’s supernatural, heavenly weapons that are able to demolish strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4-5), Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary has this to say:

The work of the ministry is a spiritual warfare with spiritual enemies, and for spiritual purposes. Outward force is not the method of the gospel, but strong persuasions, by the power of truth and the meekness of wisdom. Conscience is accountable to God only; and people must be persuaded to God and their duty, not driven by force. Thus the weapons of our warfare are very powerful; the evidence of truth is convincing. What opposition is made against the gospel, by the powers of sin and Satan in the hearts of men! But observe the conquest the word of God gains. The appointed means, however feeble they appear to some, will be mighty through God. And the preaching of the cross, by men of faith and prayer, has always been fatal to idolatry, impiety, and wickedness.”

Yes! Regarding arguments the preaching of the cross is “fatal” as “The Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit…able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).”

3. Explain Their Need to Be Saved From God’s Wrath (Share the Gospel)

Telling New Agers that they have “sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” will mean nothing to them (the same way that statement would mean nothing to atheists or agnostics). When people believe they have the spark of “Divinity” within, they believe that they are the glory and so “sin” is just another guilt-tripping Christian word.

Gently explain to them that right and wrong exist; we–all people–know that because God has given each of us a conscience and His moral law. We’ve all broken that law, thereby deserving His punishment. Share the Gospel; if you missed my post a few weeks ago, Hell’s Best Kept Secret is a great model for revealing sin and sharing the Gospel.

I hope that by taking some of the mystery out of this movement, you are able to see it’s just another works-based religion–with occult techniques thrown in the mix–that leads to eternal separation from God. The world’s religions claim that man is innately good and can earn his/her way to heaven through good works or through the realization of his/her own godlike status. Christianity teaches the opposite: we need to recognize our sinfulness and our need for salvation through the grace (Jesus) that God has provided, and not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Soli Deo Gloria

Pamela

Further resources:

Witnessing to New Agers

Christian Answers for the New Age

Is the New Age Just Old News? Interviews with Caryl Matrisciana (Part 1) (Part 2)

A Brief Dictionary on New Age Terminology

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“What’s Your Sign?” I don’t know!

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I recall a time when I thought I knew my zodiac sign; this time was most likely during my early teens–the time when I apparently knew everything. I would often buy the little, rolled-up monthly horoscope scrolls found in convenience stores and the horoscope books that that came out annually, and which provided readings for every day of the year. I can’t say I planned my days according to the readings, but I gave them enough merit in order to be held captive (John 8:34Acts 8:23).

While some may scoff at my regarding astrology with any degree of seriousness, my having an unchurched Chinese lineage often meant contact with superstition and fortune-telling. I had my tea leaves read and participated in various methods of divination such as Kau Chim, which is the practice of interpreting messages from fallen sticks. Having experienced all that, my seeking personal answers from celestial bodies seemed perfectly normal.

Since this is a faith-based blog and not a hot spot for fans of, say, Miss Cleo, you’re most likely familiar with Scripture’s warnings about astrology. If you are said fan, let me bring you up to speed. In Isaiah 47:12-15, Deuteronomy 17:2-5, and 18:9-12, God warns His people not to be involved in astrology. We are to have faith in God only.

With that said, let me point out how science debunks so-called astrology. (Credit to Walter Martin’s book The Kingdom of the Occult.)

Three Scientific Reasons Why We Do Not Know Our Signs

1. A Geocentric Solar System

In 150 A.D., Ptolemy believed the earth was the center of the solar system (geocentric). In 1543, Copernicus discovered the sun is the center (heliocentric); however, astrologers still use a geocentric chart. The calculations are wrong.

2. The Constellations Have Shifted

The astrological system was formed over 2000 years ago, which means the positions of the constellations have shifted. Your actual zodiac sign is one you probably haven’t heard of, such as Ophiuchus.

3. Astrology Doesn’t Include Everyone

People born above or below the latitude of 66° cannot have a horoscope charted because the sun never crosses the horizon when they are in total darkness. This seems really odd for a system whose astrologers claim it can predict every person’s future. How did astrology miss these people?

So the next time someone asks you, “What’s your sign?”, you can answer that you don’t know. Then, when the person looks at you strangely, as if you’re from the constellation of Ophiuchus, you can explain why you don’t know. Then would also be a great time to proclaim that you worship the Creator, not the creation (Romans 1:25), that you know your identity is not determined by things in the sky (1 Peter 2:9), and that you already know what your future holds (John 14:2).

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

heavens-declare-the-glory-of-God

 

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A Charge of Identity Theft – Christ Consciousness v. Kingdom of God

 

False Christs are not only found in the church, they appear outside the church as well. To the Buddhists, Jesus is an enlightened soul; to the Hindus, Jesus is a guru; to the Jewish nation and to Muslims, He is a prophet.

To those in the New Age Movement practicing Christ Consciousness, Jesus is a guide, showing how them how one can experience God in themselves.  

Modus Operandi

The Centre for Christ Consciousness describes Christ Consciousness as follows:

a level of awareness where you no longer see error in any action that you do or in any other human being, but see only the beauty and perfection in all things. For the Christ Consciousness does not judge, does not criticize, coerce, tempt [,] does not condone, does not react negatively.”

This is obviously not true, as Scripture tells us many times that Jesus saw error and judged (Matthew 12:38-42Matthew 16:23Matthew 23:13, etc). In addition, by denying human error, Christ Consciousness teaching denies sin; therefore, it denies the need for judgment and the need for a Savior – ironically, Jesus Christ himself, who they claim to follow.

Mens Rea

A woman wrote to New Age guru Deepak Chopra (who promotes this practice) about having attained Christ Consciousness through meditation. She claims she met a spiritual guide, and then had a conversation with a “light being” who told her repeatedly that she is “like Christ now”. She expressed concern that the light being’s message was blasphemy.

Chopra’s response: “In your spiritual experience I like the affirmation that your inner self and intentions are connected to all of Nature. It is that divine essence that is one with Christ Consciousness, the same essence that we all share, so you don’t need to feel blasphemous.” 

“You don’t need to feel blasphemous”?!

This is complete blasphemy, nothing else. Never mind the New Age nonsense, this is akin to the false teaching of the Word of Faith movement. (Benny Hinn, Paul Crouch’ and Kenneth Copeland, Chopra is stealing your “little gods” false teaching, and you’re not making a dime off him!).

This article is good to read to familiarize yourself with New Age terms that have entered the church (does the Jesus Calling devotional ring a mystical bell?). In its comments section, the writers use Christian terms and language among New Age jargon and practices. It’s rather disturbing.

It may appear that it’s mostly unbelievers who gravitate to Christ Consciousness; however, recently, I’ve spoken with a lovely woman who said she knows Jesus, and that this Jesus of Christ Consciousness is the same Jesus as the one in the Bible. She added that her relationship with Him has in fact grown deeper. How heartbreaking. I find that many women who read books like Jesus Calling often mention how their “experiences” of Jesus have “grown deeper”. The enemy likes to hand out experiences in lieu of knowledge.

Veredictum

The Great White Throne Judgement will come when God renders His verdict–a sobering reminder of just how many people do not know our Lord Jesus Christ, both in and outside the church; Jesus says that one day, he will say to many people, “I never knew you, depart from me” (Matthew 7:23). Study the Scriptures to know who Jesus is, and stay away from the false Christs that Scripture warns about (Mark 13:22).

Soli Deo Gloria,

Pamela

 

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A Cautionary Tale Arising Out of Mysticism

A Cautionary Tale Arising Out of the Ashes of Mysticism

Jane Doe

It wasn’t until her last breath that I knew her destruction was certain. You see, I can never be sure if my tenacity and hard labor will be rewarded. At times, my adversary intervenes and His people flourish, despite which arrow I shoot at them, while other times, He leaves them to their own devices. Why He does this perplexes me. After all, I’m not God. Well, I suppose you know that, hearing of my misadventure. I believe you refer to it as “The Fall”. Merely a mild setback, I assure you.

Now, where was I? Ah, yes, my latest victory. What was her name? Beth? Rachel? Joyce? Trivial matter, really. I’ve destroyed many Beths, and Rachels, and Joyces. And Emilys, Kellys, Annes, and Marys…I really should have kept a list of names. I’ll call this one Jane Doe for the time being.

I simply must tell you how I defeated Jane and how so very clever I am! The Holy book she babbled on about mentions my craftiness many times. So often in fact, you would think Jane would have kept alert to my various deceptions! I was privy to her numerous readings of the proverb which warns of turning to the right or the left. Indeed, a valid warning. Go off the narrow path and I will toss you to and fro and carry you about by every wind of doctrine.

You must understand that your race is never satisfied and always wants more. So, I grant you choice. Philosophies, cults, religions, and –isms; I offer clouds without water which promise much but deliver nothing.

Where was I? What a time I am having! Time is short and the end is near. There is still much work to be done! I fear I am appearing as confusing as my doctrines, swaying this way and that, swirling about with no foot hold in sight.

Ah, dear Jane. See, while she was regarded as a “Godly woman whose lips were always adorned with the name of Jesus”, I knew better. I knew her foundation was built on sand, and the seeds cast to her met stony ground. Biblically illiterate, theologically barren, and terribly undiscerning, she was an easy mark.

I’m sure you’ve heard my rumor that man cannot know truth. This one tickled Jane’s ear. This, truly, is one of my masterpieces. The world was done searching for truth outside of God. I needed a new lie. See, if you believe you cannot know truth, the logical end is ambiguity, uncertainty, tolerance, and acceptance of everything.

What surprised me most…oh this makes me giddy with excitement! What astounded even me was the eagerness with which this was welcomed by Jane’s Laodicean church, thereby resurrecting my all time, personal favorite, “Hath God said…?” I’ve led so many astray with that doubt. Jane began to believe the Word of God was no longer relevant, clear, sufficient, or complete. Never realizing the power of Christ, she gobbled up every man centered-self esteem-pop-psychology-self help fad out there! False doctrine laced with misapplied scripture verses were already thriving in the Christian marketplace. All I had to do was plant wolves in sheep’s clothing in her midst and let the inevitable happen.

Jane went right. Then she went left. Then back and forth so many times, the narrow path soon became a wide vista. The name of Jesus became a mystical chant with no personal importance or meaning. She glorified mystery over the sufficiency of scripture. I gloated as I watched her flounder from one pagan practice to another.

You might think this is much to do about nothing, but the warnings are clear. To my chagrin, the references to false teachers in the New Testament are plenty. But, I do have my victories.

You have been patient with my chattering, so I will offer you one last admonition – despite the fact I’ve already revealed too much. Eternal life will only be composed of what is left which will be right. That will not include my diversions. Be alert, as I do not concede defeat with you yet.

I have enjoyed my time with you and while I would love to stay and regale you further with my genius, I must go now. I am hosting a party which I have been anticipating for quite some time. Truthfully, it’s a celebration!

For you see, today saw the death of Jane.

 

Soli Deo Gloria

Pamela 

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