Spiritual fusion - East comes West
Where does the church go to get the answers? There is a host of new speakers and books today that are trying to feed the spiritual hunger of seekers of a spiritual life. But they are not leading them to Jesus Christ (and His Word- the way it was written) but to a convergence, a synthesis of religious practices. We need to know what the people’s books we read are about and listen carefully to what they are teaching, and watch how they practice their spiritual life to know what they to actually believe. A synthesis of other spiritual practices borrowed from other religions was unacceptable by the apostles and the early church. This Emerging movement is not a return to renew our pure devotion to Christ or apostolic teaching but a “smoothie Christianity,” where they are taking the ingredients of other religions and putting it into a blender to invent a new drink-which some believe is refreshing, drinking it to quench their thirst.
Consider these new statistics “A strange god indeed, as it turns out. In his book, Third Millennium Teens, Barna revealed this stunning fact: 63 percent of church-going, supposedly Christian teens said they believed "Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, Jews and all other people pray to the same God, even though they use different names for their god... ...However, the sad fact is that very few of the nation's youth appear to be Bible-believing Christians... Barna found that only 4 percent of U.S. teens can be considered evangelicals. More distressingly, that number is actually trending in the wrong direction. That 4 percent figure "is a far cry from the 10 percent measured in 1995," he said. How could teenagers who go to church so often know so little -- or at least believe so little -- of the historic Christian faith? And whose fault is it?” (A Strange Faith -- Are Church-Going Kids Christian? http://headlines.agapepress.org/archive/11/152005a.asp)
We should not be second guessing where these ideas are being generated, from the leadership that is soliciting the youth.
Brian McClaren wants us to learn more about “ meditative practices, about which Zen Buddhism has said much. To talk about different things is not to contradict one another; it is, rather, to have much to offer one another” (A Generous Orthodoxy, p. 255.) Can Zen Buddhism have something to offer that would improve a Christian’s spiritual life when the Bible teaches us that we are already partakers of Christ Jesus’ divine nature? (2 Peter 1:3-11) McLaren cites contemplative meditation promoter Richard Foster as one of the key mentors for the Emergent movement.
Contemplative Prayer that has become an accepted practice of the emergent movement it also has a direct link to Buddhism and other eastern religious practices. Richard Foster considered Thomas Merton’s book Contemplative Prayer “a must book” . . . and credits his [Merton’s] books as being “priceless wisdom for all Christians who long to go deeper in the spiritual life.” Merton wrote “I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity. . . . I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can” (A Time of Departing by Ray Yungen (published by Lighthouse Trails Publishing), p. 75.) Thomas Merton commended Hindu - Buddhist, and other mystics as those who had experienced "' union with the God of truth and love.”
The late M. Scott Peck who is popularly read by Christians said, “While I continue to make use of what I have learned from Buddhism, there are aspects of Buddhism [like reincarnation] that I am agnostic about. That means I don't disbelieve it and I don't believe it; I just don't know. On the other hand, I find distasteful the traditional idea of Christianity which preaches the resurrection of the body” (Further Along the Road Less Traveled, pp. 168-169; M. Scott Peck) emphasis mine.
Despite the diametrical differences in the religious beliefs Christianity has always taught in a personal God and the resurrection of the dead; Buddhism rejects this. We have those borrowing Buddhist practices because they believe it will enhance their spiritual living and bring them closer to God. Ken Blanchard of the ministry “Lead like Jesus” sees much can be gained from Buddhism and other religious practices, so he endorses books that promote other religious practices
A new world religion is being birthed right before our eyes? Few had considered those inside the church would be a midwife to this process. But not Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who said, “The fate of mankind, as well as of religion, depends upon the emergence of a new faith in the future.” Futurist Pierre Teilhard does not leave us guessing what he means, “a 'religion of the future' (definable as a 'religion of evolution') cannot fail to appear before long: a new mysticism, the germ of which (as it happens when anything is born) must be recognizable somewhere in our environment here and now. (p. 240 Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin, Christianity and Evolution)
A NEW MYSTICISM…
“... I can be saved only by becoming one with the universe. Thereby, too, my deepest 'pantheist' aspirations It was especially the image of God which Teilhard saw in need of urgent redefinition. Modern man has not yet found the God he can adore, a God commensurate to the newly discovered dimensions of the universe” (Ursala King,Towards a New Mysticism- Tielhard de Chardin and eastern religions, p.172)
Benjamen Creme who is the harbinger for the new Christ of this age (they believe there is a different christed individual for different times) says, The Master Jesus is going to reform the Christian churches” (Benjamen Creme, Reappearance of the Christ, p. 85).
Jesus speaking to Barbara Hubbard said,“Behold, I am writing anew, through scribes on Earth who are willing to listen to me again with new ears, in the light of the present crises on planet Earth” (Barbara Hubbard, The Revelation p. 265).
New age promoter David Spangler writes, “The New Age is here now and the Christ is functioning within the inner realms of the earth, both in his ascended state from the depths of his past ministry and in his greater state of Aquarian Revelation” (David Spangler, Revelation p.144).
This is at least one of the answers on who or what is behind changing the church- a church that should be holding fast to the word in these last days. It is the spirit of the (new) age that is initiating this change; not the Holy Spirit who leads us into the word in the Bible, and has us understand the person of Jesus- who is the eternal living word. This new paradigm introduces us to pantheism, a mystical interconnectedness and interdependence on creation. A new openness to other spiritual beliefs, convincing us that we need more than what was delivered through Jesus Christ. This process of change has begun and the uninformed, those not grounded in the faith and the naïve are at their mercy. What we see today are men who know about Christianity but are willing to intentionally combine it with other religious /spiritual practices. Whatever the reason, even with good intentions, they are exposing the church to things we should not have anything to do with.
Rick Warren has stated that we can find truth in other religions; he has. “There’s truth in every religion I, I, Christians believe there’s truth in every religion. But we just believe there is one savior. We believe we can learn truth from, I believe I’ve have learned a lot of truth from different religions. Because they all have a portion of the truth. I just believe there’s one savior Jesus Christ” (Nov.22, 2004 Larry King live) emphasis mine
How is it possible that other religions have spiritual truth unless God revealed himself to them! Any moral/ethical truth found in another religion can always be found in Christ. These religions cannot add one thing to the full and complete revelation we have in Jesus Christ. What truth can one learn from Islam that denies Jesus is God come in the flesh, or Buddhism that does not believe there is a God and there is reincarnation, or Hinduism that believes there are millions of Gods? To believe this is a spirit of error-not truth. To be a representative of Christ and say this to the public discredits what Christians actually believe. It influences others to be open to this kind of thinking.
According to Rosicrucianism, all religions have possession of truth in part. In a Rosicrucian Digest article titled “Lessons From the Past” the AMORC Imperator explains the fundamental universalism as found in ancient Mesopotamia cults, Egyptology, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Zoroasterism, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. The AMORC Imperator who wrote the article explained that all these religions should be looked upon as a beacon; “Let them become light which further pierces the shadows of the unknown” (Rosicrucian Digest article titled “Lessons From the Past”, February 1984, p.4)
The central idea of Universalism teaches that all religions hold elements of the truth and that no religion or religious teacher is fully right or wrong. This is one of the ways to build bridges to other religions, and make them united.
Rick Warren did an audio seminar with Leonard Sweet called The Tides of Change (1995). Rick Warren's Ministry Toolbox at www.pastors.com endorses Sweet. SoulTsunami: Sink or Swim in New Millennium Culture (his endorsement is on the front cover.) Leonard Sweet teaches that we have an organic integration with those in the past.
In his book Quantum Spirituality: Under the topic of Sevening (On the seventh day [God] rested and drew breath.) he gives some 10 deep breathing exercises. “1. Get in touch with your lungs by closing your eyes. Visualize in your mind a tennis court” 8.“Hold your Bible and breathe meditatively. The breathtaking, nay, breathgiving truth of aliveness is more than Methuselean in its span: Part of your body right now was once actually, literally part of the body of Abraham, Sarah, Noah, Esther, David, Abigail, Moses, Ruth, Matthew, Mary, Like, Martha, John, Priscilla, Paul... and Jesus. 9. Keep breathing quietly while holding your Bible. You have within you not just the powers of goodness resident in the great spiritual leaders like Moses, Jesus, Muhammed, Lao Tzu You also have within you the forces of evil and destruction.” Resident in each breath you take is the body of angels like Joan of Arc and devils like Gilles de Rais, Genghis Khan, Judas Iscariot, Herod, Hitler, Stalin and all the other destructive spirits throughout history” (Quantum Spirituality p.300-301)
On the 7th day- did God need to breathe? So while Sweet promotes visualization (Guided imagery), breath (contemplative?) prayers, he slides in the belief of the interconnectedness of life and a synthesis of religions, presenting the founders of these other religions as co-equal in their spiritual teachings with Jesus Christ because of the goodness within them. Like the Bahai’s, and Rosicrucians Jesus is then demoted to one of the many in a great line of spiritual leaders. Why have your Bible in your hand doing this spirit exercise unless you read it to see that what Sweet is leading you into is some pantheistic metaphysical process. So we are so interconnected that we breathe in both good and bad angels, all the dead people in history along with the fumes of cars. Sweet needs to take time to breathe some fresh air. What does this have to do with the Bibles teaching??? Nothing. but it has much to do with new age concepts.
This is what the emergence is about, as mystic Wayne Teasdale states “The rise of community among cultures and religious traditions ... makes possible what we can call 'interspirituality': the assimilation of insights, values, and spiritual practices from the various religions and their application to one's own inner life and development (Monk Wayne Teasdale)
It all goes back to the source of Alice Bailey, who said, “The great theme of the new world religion will be the recognition of, the many divine approaches and the continuity of revelation which each of them conveyed.”
How much can you change the church and still have it be part of the Christianity that began with the apostles. These men may consider themselves innovators and think deeply about the future but it seems that do not know when to stop philosophizing and read the Bible to see if their direction they are going is the right direction. Yet we are reminded by the wisest man who ever lived (beside Jesus), there “Is nothing new under the sun.” The early church saw the Gnostics and Mystics within their ranks and were willing to oppose them, we see those of the same pursuit among us today, but what will we do? Our decision today will affect our tomorrow, our future. Do we return to the ancient path or pursue what is new?
The Old Transformed into the New
AS THE NEW AGE TEACHES- YOU CAN’T EMBRACE THE NEW WITHOUT LETTING GO OF THE OLD. One enters the new age paradigm by being transformed by an experience. The new way to transform the church- through practices found in eastern religions, giving them a Christian identity. Society, culture and even the church are transitioned over easily with the help of the change agents inside. CHANGE AGENTS: is a term commonly known in New Age literature, referring to teachers, social workers educators, etc. that are there to bring about transformation in the areas of social life, education and the church.
“...[T]he Christian faith also has served its purpose; its Founder seeks to bring a new Gospel and a new message that will enlighten all men everywhere” (Rays of Initiation Alice Bailey, p. 754). Bailey was in contact with a different Jesus who was the driving force behind the messages.
Neale Donald Walsch who wrote the book conversations with God states, “There is only one message that can change the course of human history forever, end the torture, and bring you back to God. That message is The New Gospel: WE ARE ALL ONE.”
Discovering our unity replaces Jesus dying for men's sins. The world has changed and is in denial of their condition. Those who participate in spiritual lifestyles are looking everywhere they can to avoid the real problem, separation from God because of their sinful condition. In the same manner there are Christians that do not give God's cure and instead want the church to keep instep with the changing world.
In his book Soul Tsunami, Leonard Sweet recommends for the church to change. Quoting a book on 'change management' theory ..."Postmodern culture is a change-or-be changed world," he continues. "Reinvent yourself for the 21st century or die. Some would rather die than change” (Leonard Sweet, Soul Tsunami, pages 17, 34,74-75.)
If the church was disobedient to living by the instructions in the Bible I can understand the admonition to change and be brought back under the apostles instructions, but this is not what these men are addressing. I think we would be better off to stay the course Christ has told us to or we will die by changing to be as the world. Do we really need to listen to those who charm you into something different than the Scripture?
In the second foreword to Dan Kimball's book about the Emergent church Brian McLaren writes “Our understandings of the gospel constantly change as we engage in mission in our complex dynamic world, as we discover that the gospel has a rich kalaidoscope of meaning to offer, yielding unexplored layers of depth, revealing uncounted facets of insight and relevance. No doubt as we look back and see ways in which our modern understandings of the gospel were limited or flawed” (emphasis mine)
If we have offered the unsaved the same gospel that the apostles preached then how can it be limited or flawed? Here is the gospel Paul preached: 1 Cor 15:1-4 “This is the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-- unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures”
This is the same Gospel all the apostles preached. Paul went on to say in 1 Cor 1:17-18 “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” this is what Paul stated- the gospel is has the message of the cross in it.”
How can one change this or adopt it to the culture or the culture into it? Paul did not include any work into the message for SALVATION, not even the Biblical command to be baptized.
In Rom 1:1-4 “Paul tells us the gospel was promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” Here to we have the other element, He died and then rose from the dead by the power of God.
Are we to change this or adopt it to the changing culture? Not one time did this gospel change no matter who preached it- Paul- Peter- Barnabas, it was always the same message and its intent was always the same, to save men from sin.
Yet the idea of change appeals to those who are not stabilized in the gospel (in which we stand) and trusting in it ALONE to carry them to their eternal destination. So they opt for new ways to reach out to people.
The challenge to change its content is no less serious today then it was in the early church. Here are some excerpts from what Thomas Hohstadt writes “To begin, our “thinking”--or, more to the point, the way we think--is changing. And--as a result--the way we believe is changing. That belief, of course, is not a different “Word,” it's a different understanding of the Word. For spirituality is converting to new sympathies. Faith is transmuting to new sensitivities. And this Spirit-birthed age is birthing new spirit!”
In other words, we're rapidly approaching a time when the church--as we know it--cannot continue. We are arriving at a moment from which the illusions of the present can never return. We are facing an “essential strangeness” beyond which this era will end.”
“It is the end of something and the beginning of something totally Other--a transformation of spirituality--a creative mutation driven by God” (Thomas Hohstadt, futurechurch website) emphasis mine
Totally Other! A Mutation! Is that God driven? Birthing a new spirit. This can transform our spirituality to something totally different than what has been delivered.
It’s time to see this for what it is- The church is under attack from within by those who think the Holy Spirit and Bible are nor longer sufficient for our spiritual life and Growth. They are more than willing to use what is not written then what is written. In fact, they challenge the literal written word by changing its interpretation to be something very different, more hip to our time. Its application is often an introduction to something the Bible never intended.
Just as in Christianity- you are either a missionary or a mission field - in the new age you are either pupil or a teacher. It’s time for us to question why these men want to bring Yoga, meditation or Mantras into the church. Do we not have union with Christ Jesus through His Spirit already? Mysticism always claims to give a spiritual experience that one cannot receive another way. It doesn’t matter if one is a Christian or not, nor does it matter whether the mystical experience comes from anyone of these sources- drugs, yoga, meditation, channeling or a near death experience; in the end the results are often the same: the gospel, the person of Jesus Christ are altered.
Benjamen Creme stated "Times as you know are changing and the changing times bring new personalities indifferent ways into the world of all conceptions of the bible story and the gospel and so on have to change, the people that will find it probably hardest of all to accept Maitreya are the leaders of the Christian and Jewish organizations. ..they had the same problem 2,000 years ago with Jesus, Jesus was there among them and they didn’t recognize him." (Art Bell broadcast, July 10, 1998).
Change and evolution seem to go hand in hand in the new mysticism. What does God say in the Bible? “I the Lord do not change.” So what is influencing this change?
"God is not dead-, but HE CHANGES." In a letter to a friend, he referred to "the transformation... of the 'God of the Gospel' into the 'God of Evolution (Ursala King towards a new mysticism Teilhard de Chardin and eastern religions p.172)
A New Order of Spirituality
The old order is passing but not without some struggles and challenges. Bailey said, “This Inherent fanaticism (found ever in reactionary groups) will fight against the appearance of the coming, world religion ... (Externalisation of the Hierarchy, p. 453)
They are aware that many who KNOW Jesus (the real one), truly know Him and will resist this fog that is indiscriminately blanketing the land.
Benjamen Crème says, There must be no pessimism as to the future of mankind or distress over the disappearance of the old order” (Reappearance of the Christ, p. 179)
The New age movements promoters want to see the old order gone (Christianity) for the new world and the new man and religion to come forth. The new spirituality is the goal and there are many ways to arrive at it.
“The new spirituality does not reject the earlier patterns of the great universal religions. Priest and church will not disappear; they will not be forced out of existence in the New Age, they will be ABSORBED INTO THE EXISTENCE OF THE NEW AGE.” (William Thompson, in the Introduction of David Spangler, Rvelation: The Birth of the New Ag ). We should note that Leonard Sweet states he has corresponded with David Spangler and quotes him several times favorably in his book Quantum Spirituality. Sweet says in his footnotes #86. I am grateful to David Spangler for his help in formulating this “new cell” understanding of New Light leadership.”
David Spangler who Sweet favorably quotes also speaks of Lucifer as: “The true light of this great being can only be recognized when one's own eyes can see with the light of the Christ, the light of the inner sun. Lucifer works within each of us to bring us to wholeness, and as we move into the New Age, which is the age of man's wholeness, each of us is brought to that point which I term the Luciferic Initiation, the particular doorway through which the individual must pass if he is to come fully into the presence of his light and his wholeness.
Lucifer comes to give us the final gift of wholeness. If we accept it, then he is free and we are free, that is the Luciferic Initiation. It is one that many people now, and in the days ahead, will be facing, for it is an initiation into the New Age. (David Spangler, Reflections on the Christ, Findhorn Lecture Series, 3rd ed., 1981; p. 45)
Why any Christian would quote someone who is so against the Jesus Christ of the Bible is beyond me. How can any Christian who loves the lord and the truth in His word receive understanding from a man who thinks the way to Christ is through a Luciferic initiation! The implications are more than just being wrong, for Spangler is pointing to the one who opposes God and His church.
Have you been Experienced?
The initiation into the realm of darkness (occult) involves an experience of light, Lucifer is the giver of this spiritual light and he has fooled many into thinking it is Christ (Jesus). New Age adherents talk of an experience of light (revelation) that binds them together. Once they are “experienced” they see nearly everything including the New Testament in a different light. It has been called by them a paradigm shift of consciousness.
It can be a flash, a revelation, an impression that can deceive even the most sincere and noble of people. A sense of oneness is almost always tied to nature and/or self- realization. Consider Forrest Shaklee who started the Shaklee vitamin company, born with Tuberculosis he was not expected to live. His parents moved to more fresh air, from a coal mine to a farm. The fresh food and air and family folk remedies attributed to his health improving. It was there on the farm as a very young man that he learned to tune in to what he called the creative intelligence of nature” (audio of Shaklee's leader banquet Minneapolis in 1971). I was still young chap and the folks still lived on the farm and I came home upon Easter vacation and Easter Sunday afternoon. I walked out into the fields out into the meadows of the hay lands where they hay had been freshly cut. And climbed up upon to a stack of hay lying there flat on my back breathing watching the wildlife the swan the crane the geese the ducks all winding there way to the northland for their home breeding ground. I remember the thought came to me what guides those birds back to the same place their parents had deposited the eggs from they came. What is it that will cause them in the fall to come back to the Wintry quarters? There was a question in my mind. Has man lost something that the birds have? From that moment on I began to think and feel and endeavor to interpret the meaning of nature. It became a part of me I began to realize that I was a part of nature. Not something … set apart on the mountain the high spot to judge the rest of the animals of the earth. For I too was product of nature perhaps no better than the old cow on the hillside. Being a product of nature it behooved me to cooperate with nature.”
Forrest Shaklee had a mystical type of experience of oneness that changed his worldview and his place in it. His vantage point changed and is similar to many who have journeyed into mysticism and came to the same realization.
Frank B. Robinson (of the Psychiana movement) went into his room and closed the door. lamenting “O God,” he exclaimed, if I have to go to hell, I'll go with the consciousness that I went there earnestly trying to find you!"
“As the moments passed he stood perfectly still, hopefully waiting for he knew not what. Then he fell to his knees, closed his yes, and heard himself say, "The spirit within me is the Spirit of God, the same spirit that has moved in the lives of all great men. I have confessed this Spirit for many years, but I have also suppressed it. I want to express it from this moment on-fully, completely, perfectly.”
Kneeling there, he felt his mind cleansed of every thought save the thought of the presence of God. His eyes filled with tears and he found himself breathing deeply, repeating with very inhalation words which seemed to have been whispered to him, "I believe in the Power of the Living God!"
He had the vivid feeling that he was not alone in the room. He could sense the Presence of something or someone, although lie could see no one nor hear anything but the words he so earnestly repeated. Yet something had drawn aside a curtain deep within him and he seemed to be standing face to face with the Power that is life. No longer, he said later, did he feel a limiting consciousness; he felt only a single, specific sense of complete unity with God. In that gashing moment of insight, he realized as never before that he was the inner counterpart of a divine creative power. From then on he was convinced that he was the personalized activity of cosmic force. Those who have experienced something similar call it conversion. Others refer to it as a religious experience, or the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Robinson called it "talking with God" and after that Sunday afternoon he was a changed man.” (p.159 Strange Sects and Curious Cults by Marcus Bach, Dodd, Mean & Company, New York 1962)
There are many who claim to hear hear a soft voice, see a light or are enraptured in an experience of beauty and believe it to be God. Despite the feeling they received or the knowledge gained, if it is not related to the Bible and tested they have been deceived by the master of of all deceptions.
Richard Foster says he read 300 books on prayer in a few months, Classical books. “I have read everything I could lay my hands on about formation prayer and covenant prayer adoration prayer and sacramental prayer and centering prayer and meditative prayer, intercessory prayer healing prayer authoritative prayer and so much more.” Foster has become a major influence behind the scenes in this Emergent church movement.
On his audio set Richard Foster tells a story of Paddy Chayefsky, a play writers experience with what Foster believes is God. Foster prefaces this with “Who lived his life as if God did not exist ..total self centerness using people.”
One night while he was writing in his park avenue apartment the living God came roaring into Paddy chayefsky’s life with hurricane force and experience with both his head and his heart the wild passionate pursuing love of God for him… He was caught up in an ecstasy of Joy. God loved him just the way he was.
He tore up what he was writing, wrote a new play that ran on Broadway for 2 years called Gideon. Chayefsky projects himself into the lead character Gideon his own decisive encounter with God.
Gideon has a life of abusing and using other people for his own selfish pleasure. Gideon cannot think of one single action in his life where he ever tried to be kind, or loving or caring or thoughtful. But that night out on the desert the God who made the Pleiades and Orion come tearing into Gideon's life and Gideon experiences the unconditional love of Jesus Christ for him personally that he loves him just the way he is, not the way he is supposed to be… that he loves him beyond fidelity and infidelity…
Gideon cannot sleep all night. “I want to take you into my tent wrap you up and keep you all to myself. God will you tell me again that you love me. God answers “ I love you Gideon”. Say again to me God , “I love you Gideon”. Finally Gideon scratches his head, “ I don’t understand God- why, why do you love me?” “God scratches his head and answers I really don’t know” (Foster laughs) And then God adds- Gideon sometimes passion isn’t reasonable, sometimes my Gideon passion is unreasonable” (Richard Foster- Prayer- Finding the Hearts True Home, audio, Zondervan publishing 1992)
Does God not know something; especially why He loves us? Does he not tell us the why He sent His Son to die for us! This God did not know anymore than Gideon.
I looked up Paddy Chayefsky on the web to see if there was ever a hint of his converting to Christ from Judaism. There was none. Believing in God is not the same thing as knowing Christ through the gospel. One can invent their own view-point of whom they want God to be. It was stated- Only one of the members of Chayefsky's minyan-Hirschman, the venerable Cabbalist-openly professes belief in God...
His play on Gideon was described as a dramatization of the biblical story of Gideon, Chayefsky arranges a philosophical debate between the reluctant Gideon and God over issues of free will, obedience, and self-sacrifice.
I also found this in the Commentary Digital Archive- 398. “God save us from people who do the morally right thing. It's always the rest of us who get broken in half. 21. I don't know what's good, or bad, or true. I let God worry about truth. I just want to know the momentary fact of things. Life isn't good, or bad, or true. It's merely factual. It's sensual. It's alive!”
Why would Foster use this story about Paddy Chayefsky as if it was an authentic experience with God in his prayer series? The answer is simple- Richard J. Foster is a Quaker minister who is into mysticism and experiences. Foster has made himself acquainted with Medieval mystics which he refers to as “masters of the interior life,” he is convincing many to believe this way. Foster quotes numerous mystics - Teilhard de Chardin, Meister Eckhart (a Dominican monk who lived in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries who ranks among the great Roman Catholic mystics.) Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, the order of the Jesuits. Teresa of Ávila, John Woolman, George Fox, and St. John of the Cross, Agnes Sanford and others.
Foster teaches the techniques found in the New Age such as quietism, centering, Buddhism, Yoga, mantras. In his book Celebration of discipline foster endorses the rosary and prayer wheel use (p. 64); promotes Roman Catholic practices such as use of “spiritual directors,” confession, and penance (pp. 146-150, 156, 185).
Foster says, “Christian meditation is an attempt to empty the mind in order to fill it.” Foster is educated enough to know the difference. Emptying the mind in eastern thought gives one leeway to the spirit world and brings on counterfeit (mystical) experiences. Christian meditation is thinking and pondering on the Scripture, the very opposite.
Foster is convinced of other methods, that use imagination, visualization, dreamwork, centering, and breathing can all be useful by Christians for spiritual growth. He cites their use in church history (Christian mystical traditions). Foster encourages centering exercises and concentrating on one's breath, also a common Eastern technique: Another meditation aimed at centering oneself begins by concentrating on breathing. Having seated yourself comfortably, slowly become conscious of your breathing. This will help you to get in touch with your body and indicate to you the level of tension within. Inhale deeply, slowly tilting your head back as far as it will go. Then exhale, allowing your head slowly to come forward until your chin nearly rests on your chest. Do this for several moments, praying inwardly something like this: "Lord, I exhale my fear over my geometry exam, I inhale Your peace. I exhale my spiritual apathy, I inhale Your light and life." Then, as before, become silent outwardly and inwardly. Be attentive to the inward living Christ” (193:25, Celebration of Discipline. reference “Can you trust your Doctor by Ankerberg and Weldon)
This is right in line with new age disciplines of meditation. Nowhere does the Bible instruct us to do this type of exercise, neither does it teach that we receive peace in this way.
Foster Explains his view of celebration: “We of the New Age can risk going against the tide. Let us with abandon...see visions and dream dreams....The imagination can release a flood of creative ideas [and] be lots of fun.” (Celebration of Discipline, Harper & Row, 1978, p. 170)
We of the new age! A revealing a statement. Numerous books and speakers have gained access to the church, introducing strange and mystical practices to our young and old. These men are using new revelations, new methodologies to achieve a spiritual life, maturity and experiences. None of which are spoken of in the Scripture. We should heed the words of Paul who tells us not to exceed what is written.
Many of the emergent movements leaders look to Foster for a spiritual influence for their direction. What Foster is teaching opens up one's belief to accept things outside the faith delivered to the saints. Why would any Christian recommend practices or books that are not from Christian teaching in the Bible.
As Christians (those who believe and follow Christ as our life) we should be careful to avoid the use of practices found in other religions. We should even avoid if possible the same language used in the occult and mystics, lest we be misconstrued as approving these practices or be identified with them.