Through the Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism currently infesting the Christian community inherent in The Ecumenical Church Of Deceit (ECoD) of postevangelicalism today we are seeing a new reimagined Gnosticism emerging from mystical encounters allegedly with God. However, as you will come to see this idea of a mystical union of the soul with God which is so common to many Eastern and Western strains of contemplative meditation is not really so new at all. We will be looking at some of the teachings about “the ONE” from an ancient Gnostic Greek philosopher by the name of Plotinus. His view has come to be known as neoplatonism and you will begin to notice a remarkable similarity in the theology of Plotinus to the type of mystical musings about “the Divine” coming from mentors of the Emergent Church such like Brian McLaren as well as his friend Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster.

What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, “Look! This is something new”? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time. (Eccles. 1:9-10)

The Divine Spark Emerges

I will spare the reader an in depth theological treatise on all that is contained within Gnosticism. The idea here is simply to remind you that the mortal wound of contemplative spirituality which is a key component of the ECoD is only bringing this recycled Gnostic neoplatonism right back into battle with the historic orthodox Christian faith. These deceiving spirits and things taught by demons were present long before Christ even stepped upon His planet. However, as soon as God established His Church these satanic forces engaged in an immediate attack upon the infant Body of Christ through a man-centered religious system which would come to be known as Gnosticism. enlightens us with a bit of basic insight about Gnosticism which:

held that human beings consist of flesh, soul, and spirit (the divine spark), and that humanity is divided into classes representing each of these elements. The purely corporeal (hylic) lacked spirit and could never be saved; the Gnostics proper (pneumatic) bore knowingly the divine spark and their salvation was certain; and those, like the Christians, who stood in between (psychic), might attain a lesser salvation through faith…The influence of Gnosticism on the later development of the Jewish kabbalah and heterodox Islamic sects such as the Ismailis is much debated.

You will note the phrase “the divine spark” which itself has now reemerged in contemplative circles of various persuasions today. Let me also highlight that this “debated” influence of Gnosticism within Judaism and Islam just happens to be found among the mystic strains of each. As you’ll be coming to understand this is not just kind of odd “coincidence.”

But right now before we look a little further into the teaching of ancient Gnosticism, let’s take for example the current controversy regarding the alleged Gospel of Judas. The following comes from an article in National Geographic where:

Biblical scholar Marvin Meyer of Chapman University, who worked with [Rodolphe] Kasser to translate the gospel, sums up the situation as “Christianity trying to find its style.”

For example, a group called the Ebionites maintained that Christians should obey all Jewish religious laws, while another, the Marcionites, rejected any connection between the God of the New Testament and the Jewish God. Some said that Jesus had been wholly divine, contradicting those who insisted he was completely human. Yet another sect, the Carpocratians, allegedly indulged in ritualized spouse swapping. Many of these groups were Gnostics, followers of the same strain of early Christianity reflected in the Judas gospel.

Gnosis means ‘knowledge’ in Greek,” Meyer explains. The Gnostics “believed that there is an ultimate source of goodness, which they thought of as the divine mind, outside the physical universe. Humans carry a spark of that divine power, but they are cut off by the material world all around them”—a flawed world, as the Gnostics saw it, the work of an inferior creator rather than the ultimate God.

While Christians like Irenaeus stressed that only Jesus, the son of God, was simultaneously human and divine, the Gnostics proposed that ordinary people could be connected to God. Salvation lay in awakening that divine spark within the human spirit and reconnecting with the divine mind. Doing so required the guidance of a teacher, and that, according to the Gnostics, was Christ’s role. Those who grasped his message could become as divine as Christ himself (emphasis mine).

Reconnecting With The Divine Through Mysticism

Again we have the idea of a “divine spark,” this time referred to as “a spark of the divine,” that is allegedly within mankind. Also those who are following this insidious infestation of so-called “Christian” mysticism within the neopagan cult of the Emergent Church should immediately notice the Gnostic teaching of “reconnecting with the divine” which supposedly “required the guidance of a teacher.” We are now witnessing this particular Gnostic belief being revived through all the talk by men like Richard Foster and Tony Jones and Brian McLaren about the supposed need for “spiritual directors.” And then in the book Spiritual Classics the Guru of Contemplation Richard Foster, who is editor along with Emilie Griffin, happens to include the work of mystic Meister Eckhart.

We now consider the following from an article entitled “Richard Foster General Teachings/Activities* Modern Christian Mysticism”:

Meister Eckhart, a Dominican monk who lived in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, ranks among the great Roman Catholic mystics such as Teresa of Ávila, John of the Cross, and Julian of Norwich. Toward the end of his life, Eckhart was charged (and found guilty after his death in 1327) with heresy for his mystical assertions, which the Catholic Church determined had bled over into pantheism.

Eckhart “believed that in every human soul there is something of the very nature of God. Here it is that the human soul meets God…. [His] doctrine of the human soul has lasted to the present, and is reaffirmed whenever one speaks of a Divine Spark within each of us.” Eckhart made statements such as these, “Henceforth I shall not speak about the soul, for she has lost her name yonder in the oneness of divine essence. There she is no more called soul: she is called infinite being.” And, “She plunges into the bottomless well of the divine nature and becomes one with God that she herself would say that she is God.”

Such statements not only bothered the Medieval Church, but some more modern researchers have found agreements in Eckhart’s philosophy with all the major points of Hindu mystics.[2] Other scholars are not so certain about Eckhart’s pantheism, but his statements certainly leave the door open for such interpretations. Yet Eckhart is considered to be one of the most important Christian mystics of the Middle Ages, and both ancient and modern mysticism reflect his views. Eckhart’s Divine Spark corresponds almost directly with the teachings of Eastern Mysticism, with the difference that the Divine Spark in Christian Mysticism is defined as God who resides in every human being (emphasis mine).

Men and women, this mystic musing from Meister Eckhart had a direct impact on George Fox who would go on to found the Quakers. Now consider the following information concerning Fox from The Living Testament: The Essential Writings of Christianity Since the Bible, which happens to be edited by M. Basil Pennington, Alan Jones and Mark Booth. In fact I went and got this book specifically because Richard Foster recommends it under “Reference Works on Spirituality” in his Celebration of Discipline:

George Fox (1624-1691) was the founder of the Society of Friends (Quakers). He preached reliance on the Inner Light”, the Holy Spirit watching from within; in this he represented a development of the Puritan “spirit mystic” tradition. He believed that everyone has a divine spark within that can respond directly and personally to God. His plain open style has a peculiar force in enthusiasm and moral earnestness. (379,380)

You can see a couple of key issues above; first, Fox taught that every man has the “Inner Light” that he saw as “the Holy Spirit.” We leave aside right now that for Fox the Inner Light/Holy Spirit was not a person but an “it” not unlike the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Here again though we come to understand that George Fox ended up taking Eckhart’s mistaken mystic idea of Gnosticism and then transformed it into what he called “the Inner Light” of God. Secondly, Fox taught that this “divine spark” was already present within all men just as other mystics before him. Subsequently this blasphemy has now been picked up by Richard Foster, who as I mentioned earlier is himself a Quaker, but this patently false notion is contradictory to Holy Scripture because it negates any need for the new birth.

Men and women, you need to understand that it is through this core doctrine of the Emergent Church with its heretical views on Spiritual Formation (another way to refer to contemplative spirituality) and the practice of so-called “Christian” mysticism that meandering musings such as those by Eckhart and Fox have now infiltrated the Church of our Lord. So deep has it reached into the Body of Christ that this heresy has even surfaced in Chuck Swindoll’s recent book So, You Want To Be Like Christ?. This work by Swindoll is filled with quotes from Richard Foster and the Delusions of Dallas Willard both arguably the primary perpetrators of this spiritual suicide known as contemplative spirituality (i.e. transcendental meditation for the Christian).

For our next example of this emerging Gnosticism we have this from Practical Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill. Underhill is another mixed up mystic that Foster himself appeals to in his book Celebration of Discipline as a primary source on the subject of the alleged “inner life.” The Guru of Contemplation even includes Underhill in the chapter on “Worship” in the aforementioned Spiritual Classics. The following is taken from an article about Evelyn Underhill within a PBS series called The Question Of God. Once again in Underhill we have yet another mystic consistent with Gnosticism who speaks of the “essential self,” also known in New Age teaching as the True Self, which is to say the divine spark of “inward light” within man that allegedly makes us all people one in God:

At the centre there is a stillness which even you are not able to break. There, the rhythm of your duration is one with the rhythm of the Universal Life. There, your essential self exists: the permanent being which persists through and behind the flow and change of your conscious states… Since this alone of all that you call yourselfhood” is possessed of eternal reality, it is surely a counsel of prudence to acquaint yourself with its peculiarities and its powers. “Take your seat within the heart of the thousand-petaled lotus,” cries the Eastern visionary. “Hold thou to thy Centre,” says his Christian brother, “and all things shall be thine…”

That invulnerable spark of vivid life, that “inward light” which these men find at their own centres when they seek for it, is for them an earnest of the Uncreated Light, the ineffable splendour of God, dwelling at, and energising within the heart of things: for this spark is at once one with, yet separate from, the Universal Soul (emphasis mine).

Oh, and you might find this next bit of information from Underhill interesting. The following comes from her “classic” book Mysticism. Watch very carefully to see who will come emerging from the Gnostic shadows:

No temperament is less slothful than the mystical one; and the “quiet” to which the mystics must school themselves in the early stages of contemplation is often the hardest of their tasks. The abandonment of bodily and intellectual activity is only 173 undertaken in order that they may, in the words of Plotinus, “energize enthusiastically” upon another plane.

Wouldn’t you say it’s rather telling that Plotinus, a Gnostic teacher who denied that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, should also show up in the work of spiritual director Underhill whose teaching is recommended by Guru Foster? In fact as I look through my personal copy of her book she refers to Plotinus many times. But for now we show one last example which is also indicative of the belief of the alleged divine spark within mankind, but this time from the position of Hinduism in order to give you a different religious perspective. However, what you should know is that each of these people have one “spiritual discipline” in common, they all practice apophatic meditation. The following comes from Mike Oppenheimer’s article A GREAT Compromise:

Excerpts from the article Yoga Stretches Traditional Christian Boundaries- “Marylyn Mandeville sits crossed-legged on a mat in front of 11 of her students. Her hands are folded as if in prayer, framed by the slogan on her T-shirt: “Know Yoga, Know Peace.” A gold cross rests on the Om symbol emblazoned on her shirt. “Namaste,” she says to the class, bowing deeply while offering the Sanskrit salutation “I bow to the God within you.” (emphasis his)

Oppenheimer, who is the Director of a fine Christian ministry Let Us Reason, then adds:

The God that is within you (in all people) is not the God of the Bible; we do not worship nor bow to the God within. What is more disturbing is that we read in the article- “No one in the Parkwood Baptist Church, not even the pastor, reacts to Mandeville’s T-shirt, gesture….”

Namaste is the belief that there is a divine spark within each of us (located in the heart chakra). Namaste literally means, “I bow to you,” acknowledging their soul in one by the soul in another. It is done by placing the hands together at the third eye, bowing the head, and then bringing the hands down to the heart. That is why you will see people with their hands clasped like a prayer pose.

Now however, Oppenheimer brings out the very critical point when he correctly points out that “the Bible says there is no spark but there is sin, the fallen nature (spirit of man).” And his question becomes all the more important: “How can one find god within?” The truth is: One can’t.

The Emergent Gnosticism

With all of the above in mind then, we can now return to the article from in a much better position to appreciate what we will read concerning Gnosticism:

Gnosis (γνώσις) refers to knowledge of the second kind. Therefore, in a religious context, to be ‘Gnostic’ should be understood as being reliant not on knowledge in a general sense, but as being specially receptive to mystical or esoteric experiences of direct participation with the divine. Indeed, in most Gnostic systems the sufficient cause of salvation is this ‘knowledge of’ (‘acquaintance with’) the divine. This is commonly identified with a process of inwardknowing‘ or self-exploration, comparable to that encouraged by Plotinus (ca. 205–270 CE)(emphasis mine).

It truly is as God the Holy Spirit unmistakably tells us in our opening text – The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us (KJV). And one aspect of something that was here already, long ago is this “inward knowing” of the Gnostic philosophy of neoplatonism I mentioned a bit ago. Today you will hear mystics like Guru Foster who teach this contemplative spirituality refer to it as the “inner or deeper life.” In the Evangelical Dictionary Of Theology we discover neoplatonism is:

The principle form of Greek philosophy from the third to the sixth centuries A.D. It is usually described as founded by Plotinus (205-70), but perhaps a more accurate statement would be that Plotinus was the most creative thinker within later Platonism (821).

In this discussion it’s not important to cover all that neoplatonism is or isn’t because at this point I only wish to draw your attention to some of what Plotinus himself taught. Wikpedia gives us some important background information we will need to better understand how nearly identical teachings to those of Plotinus are now reemerging through those who are practicing the transcendental meditation of contemplative spirituality:

Plotinus taught that there is a supreme, totally transcendent “One”, containing no division, multiplicity or distinction; likewise it is beyond all categories of being and non-being. The concept of “being” is derived by us from the objects of human experience, and is an attribute of such objects, but the infinite, transcendent One is beyond all such objects, and therefore is beyond the concepts that we derive from them. The One “cannot be any existing thing”, and cannot be merely the sum of all such things… Thus, no attributes can be assigned to the One (emphasis mine).

Contemplative Spirituality And Counterfeit Unity

Those of us who have studied Islam and how unknowable Allah is said to be will recognize the influence of the teachings of Plotinus upon its theology. Please know this work will be ongoing and adapting as further information surfaces. As I have been led into the study of the Emergent Church it has required me to also thoroughly examine the issue of contemplative spirituality that is undoubtedly an integral part of this neopagan cult which is now growing within the evangelical church. The lateness of the hour necessitates a boldness and a frankness that is obviously unsettling for many. In the spirit of – If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone (Romans 12:18), I am sorry that this type of research is upsetting to some, but I do not apologize for the findings of the investigation itself.

However, it seems that as fast as I can turn over one spiritual rock that Brian McLaren or his friend Richard Foster are trying to hide under then some other serpentine teaching comes scurrying out into the Light. The Church of our Lord has been hearing a clarion call to discernment lately, and this has even been coming from some of its more conservative and non-controversial leaders, so she truly has no excuse for allowing these men from Emergent to lead her youth astray. But that issue is for a different day. Right now I continue to alert you to the reemergence of the mystic Gnosticism that has now arrived inside the walls of our Christ’s Church through contemplative spirituality. A secret, special “knowledge” for the spiritually “enlightened,” the very concept of which already being condemned in first century Scripture such as the Books of Colossians and 1 John.

What is so critical to understand is that those who have been dabbling in the transcendental meditation of Contemplative/Centering Prayer are all beginning to sound like each other in a counterfeit unity. And Lord willing, as time goes on I (and others) will be showing you that this is true whether it’s meditation in so-called “Christian” mysticism, Sufi Islam, Jewish mysticism, or the warped spirituality of the New Age/New Light. Oh sure, at this point many voices are raised shouting: “This is but guilt by association!” If you happen hold that view, I tell you what, why don’t you take a trip to the local penitentiary and see how many are incarcerated therein from cases where they were also proven guilty of breaking the law through the associations they had made with others who were themselves committing crimes.

Today I encourage you to take a good hard look at the evidence that has been coming from other discernment ministries long before the Lord raised Apprising Ministries up. Men and women, prayerfully examine it for yourselves by following some of the links provided for you on the front page here as AM. The people today who participate together in seeking this special knowledge (gnosis) and direct revelation from God apart from the Bible through this contemplative spirituality are all coming to the same conclusions as those who taught various strains of Gnosticism before them. Have we really become so spiritually dull in the Christian community that we can’t see this? If so, this is a sad, sad state of affairs and we will only be able to stand by helplessly as a whole generation of our young will be lost to spiritual deceptions already refuted in the Bible itself!

The Story Of Mystic Mysteries

Before we get into more specifics another time concerning what exactly contemplative meditators are saying let’s give you a quick idea of what Plotinus taught through what is called neoplatonism. For instance the doctrine of God currently espoused by Emergent Guru McLaren’s associates, the “Living Spiritual TeachersAlan Jones and Marcus Borg, sounds virtually identical to that taught by this ancient Greek philosopher. Wikpedia tells us that Plotinus taught that God, whom he called “the One,” is:

is the source of the world not through any act of creation, willful or otherwise, since activity cannot be ascribed to the unchangeable, immutable One… Plotinus offers an alternative to the orthodox Christian notion of creation ex nihilo (‘out of nothing’), which would make God suffer the deliberations of a mind and actions of a will. Emanation ex deo (‘out of God’), confirms the absolute transcendence of the One, making the unfolding of the cosmos purely a consequence of its existence;…

Here we see the germination of the mystic idea that the “immutable One,” “the Divine,” or “the Sacred” as many contemplatives will refer to God, is so “mysterious” He is ultimately beyond our comprehension. Let’s not wrestle with the serpent here because obviously there is truth to the idea that we finite beings cannot comprehend the infinite God on our own. The point to focus on here is we are seeing a return to this exact type of humanistic philosophy through these mystic encounters described by contemplatives as diverse as Marianne Williamson to Brian McLaren to Thich Nhat Hahn. And these alleged “emanations” taught by Plotinus also give us a key to understanding this idea taught by various mystics about the different “stories” we all supposedly have of this “One” unknowable God in our various “faith traditions.”

Concerning his teaching about “these emanations” we read further that:

Plotinus uses the analogy of the Sun which emanates light indiscriminately without thereby “lessening” itself, or reflection in a mirror which in no way diminishes or otherwise alters the object being reflected.

The first emanation is Nous (‘Thought’), identified with the “demiurge” in Plato’s Timaeus. From Nous proceeds theWorld Soul“, which Plotinus subdivides into “upper” and “lower”, identifying the lower aspect of Soul with Nature. From the World Soul proceed individual human souls, and finally, matter, at the lowest level of being and thus the least perfected level of the cosmos. Despite this relatively negative assessment of the material world, Plotinus asserted the ultimately divine nature of material creation since it ultimately derives from the One, through the mediums of Nous and the World Soul.

The essentially devotional nature of Plotinus’ philosophy may be further illustrated by his concept of attaining “ecstaticunion with the One. Porphyry relates that Plotinus attained such a union several times during the years he knew him. This may be related, of course, with “enlightenment“, “liberation”, and other concepts of mystical union common to many Eastern and Western traditions. Many scholars have compared Plotinus’ teachings to the Hindu school of Advaita Vedanta, (advaita “not two”, or “non-dual”)(emphasis mine).

Union With The “ONE”

As we explore this subject further I’ll bring together teachings by various people involved with contemplative spirituality and you will see for yourself they are consistent with the Gnosticism taught above by Plotinus. Terms like “World Soul,” the “divine nature of the material world,” and the “ecstatic” or “mystical union” with the One (allegedly God) are all consistent with what you will find in works from Richard Foster, Teresa of Avila, and even Barbara Marx Hubbard. You think I jest? In closing out this first installment we consider this from the website for One: The Movie which made its debut last year:

Early one morning, in April, 2002, a middle-aged father of three from Michigan suddenly awoke from a sound sleep, overcome by a strange compulsion… to make a movie…

The Power Of One: The original format for the movie was not initially well defined. Only that it would somehow involve asking a specific set of questions to people from all walks of life to get many perspectives, and this together with a mix of music and images would tell a story.

What was well defined from the outset became the theme of the project: We Are All One. The energy of Oneness would be the force to carry the day… In an increasingly divided world… the power of Oneness is longing to emerge;… (emphasis theirs)

And then there is more, ONE: The Conference which is to be held May 5 & 6, 2006 and:

is the next step on the journey to awakening Oneness. Come join the filmmakers and featured interviewees from the movie in an interactive conference setting—which will include music and never-before-seen, extended footage from the project—and help us carry the work of Oneness into the world (emphasis mine).

Among the presenters is Barbara Marx Hubbard who:

is a communicator of humanity’s potential to evolve. As an author, speaker, social innovator and spiritual pioneer, she has established the new field of conscious evolution. Her evolutionary perspective suggests a way through our global crises toward an immeasurable future (emphasis mine).

And please keep in mind here that my intent is not so much to thoroughly cover people like Hubbard, who is unquestionably a teacher of New Age spirituality, as it is to show you that even the very title of this project ONE itself harkens back to the Gnostic neoplatonism as taught by Plotinus. And the Lord is my witness here, what you need to know is that I had absolutely no knowledge of this endeavor involving Hubbard when I began this article today. In my mind the Holy Spirit gave me an assist by leading me while I simply did a Google search using the words “world soul barbara marx hubbard” and up popped this information which has now confirmed the direction of this particular work.

And as a little preview of where we are headed consider this from a page at One The entitled “Meet the voices of One.” Among the voices are some very familiar names like Hubbard of course, and wouldn’t you know it there just happens to be a whole passel of those “Living Spiritual Teachers” that our Emergent Guru Brian McLaren is so enamored with: Bestselling New Age spiritual author Deepak Chopra, spiritual mentor and author Ram Dass, Sheikh of the Naqshandi Sufi Order Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Roman Catholic Catholic abbot and participant in multifaith dialogues Thomas Keating, Roman Catholic and Spiritual Director Richard Rohr, former Tibetan Buddhist Monk Robert Thurman and Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hahn.

Oh, and by the way look…there’s another name to be found among these Living Spiritual Teachers that will be familiar to many of you, Guru McLaren’s Quaker friend of “the Inner Light,” one Richard Foster.