The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Spiritual Deception Always Begins With Satan’s Pick Up Line, “Yea, Did God Say?”

The idea for this short piece germinated as I answered an email I had received here at Apprising Ministries from a former minister of apologetics for a group in England but who’s now a church planter in Barbados. They’d taken issue with how I have written concerning the Emerging Church rebellion against Sola Scriptura and Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP); you see, in their opinion, what I should do is to simply point out the books and/or websites belonging to these Emergent Church leaders that clearly show their false teaching.

I explained that the type of work I do along the often ugly Internet Front of this spiritual Vietnam Truth War is not the typical apologetic they’d likely be used to. Those familiar with AM know I’ve referred to that style of writing as the plus/minus approach. It’s by far the most common method, which no doubt you’ve seen many times. One begins by listing the 3-5 good things about a given subject, this is then followed by the 8-10 bad things, in order to reach the foregone conclusion that they can’t recommend said subject. And as I’ve said before it’s not wrong; however, I just chose to leave out the often patronizing step one is all.

For our purposes here though the main point I wish to draw out is this idea about simply listing materials by false teachers, which then clearly outline their aberrant and heretical doctrine. That would be very nice indeed, wouldn’t it? O, if only false teachers would be so kind as to openly announce to us that they are false teachers; and then, how great would it be if they would go on to supply us with a very complete and detailed outline listing all of the things about which they are wrongly teaching us. But unfortunately, in the real world, that’s just never been their M.O.

At this point, an incident Bob DeWaay shares in his fine scholarly work The Dangers of Deception proves to be quite edifying. Pastor DeWaay, whom I hear has a book on the Emerging Church coming soon, tells us that a “former missionary” had “recounted a story that illustrates the reality of the spirit world.” DeWaay then writes:

Here is the story in his words:

A twelve-year-old boy in Taiwan was having strange experiences. He felt as though someone was often following him but when he turned around, he saw no one. Often in the morning after a fitful sleep he would have bruises and tell his parents that someone had been hitting him in the night as he slept. His parents took him to medical doctors who could find nothing wrong with the boy. Finally, they took him to a blind fortune-teller – one who had a reputation for his effectiveness in perceiving the spirit world.

This fortune-teller told the boy and his parents that the boy was born as a twin and that the other twin had died at birth. This was of course known to the parents, but few other people knew about this as they had kept it a secret. The fortune-teller went on to say that the boy’s problems were caused by the spirit of the deceased twin who was angry about being neglected. His parents had not been faithfully worshiping him and providing for him in the spirit world. Therefore, this spirit was punishing them by harassing their son (his twin). The solution was to set up an altar for the spirit of the deceased twin, worship him with food and incense, and burn spirit money on his behalf. When the family did as they had been instructed, the boy’s strange experiences ceased.

One might ask, “How can it be that this worked”? The answer is that Satan has good reasons to make it work. The spirits tormenting the child were doing what evil spirits delight to do. The fortune-teller is connected to real spiritual knowledge. The spirits told the fortune-teller of the twin. The spirits gave him the “prescription” and other spirits quit their tormenting because by doing so, they have immersed that whole family in the animistic beliefs of spirit worship. Imagine how solid would be their beliefs and how unlikely would be their turning to Jesus Christ. Divination and spiritism work — that is what makes the danger so great. Deceptions that do not “work” have a short shelf life. (Online source)

And so it is as we approach the subject of CCP, which is the main vehicle for the corrupt quasi-Eastern Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (CSM) now becoming all the rage in apostatizing evangelicalism as advanced by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic “Roshi” Richard Foster. While I’m not aligned with either the charismatic or Pentecostal movements I’m also not a strict cessationist. Now my only reason for mentioning this is in order that the reader understand I personally do not immediately discount claims made that are of a spiritual nature as some do.

Let me also say here that sometimes I really wish it was so easy; simply dismissing out of hand everyone who claims to have an experience with God, but that would be to limit His omnipotence, not a good idea. As Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989), a recognized authority on religious cults having their origin in the United States, used to say: “All experience must be tested by Scripture; and never the reverse.” But unfortunately, years and years of, “What does that verse mean to you?” Bible studies have paved the way for this current Emergent Church rebellion against Sola Scriptura.

You also need to realize that its right now poised for an all-out offensive as you can see e.g. in “Enough With the Bible“. Couple the above with the past ten years of a relentless re-educating process aimed at indoctrinating evangelical Protestants to accept the Counter Reformation CSM of apostate Roman Catholicism and *Presto* you have today’s mainstream Christian version of what Dr. John MacArthur called “Reckless Faith” as far back as 1994:

[Contemplative Spirituality aka] Mysticism is perfectly suited for religious existentialism; indeed, it is the inevitable consequence. The mystic disdains rational understanding and seeks truth instead through the feelings, the imagination, personal visions, inner voices, private illumination, of other purely subjective means. Objective truth becomes practically superfluous.

Mysticial experiences are therefore self-authenticating; that is, they are not subject to any form of objective verification. They are unique to the person who experiences them. Since they do not arise from or depend upon any rational process, they are invulnerable to any refutation by rational means… Mysticism is therefore antithetical to discernment. It is an extreme form of reckless faith. Mysticism is the great melting pot into which neo-orthodoxy, the charismatic movement, anti-intellectual evangelicals, and even some segments of Roman Catholicism have been synthesized.

But The Same Wrong Spiritual Practices Reproduce The Same Wrong Experiences

I never cease to be amazed how God works because literally as I was writing this piece I received a call from Paul Walker, one of the pastors on AM’s board of directors. Walker fills you in further in Labyrinth-Walking Now Welcome in the SBC but he’d just gotten off the phone with the editor of Missions Mosaic, a magazine printed by the Women’s Missionary Union of the Southern Baptist Convention, expressing his rightful disgust that this SBC ministry is now recommending—among other aspects of CSM—Lectio Divina and walking a labyrinth.

He’d done his best to point out that this CSM is actually the type of divination DeWaay was writing about in the article cited above and which God condemned in Deuteronomy 18. Sadly, she wouldn’t listen to him anymore than Ravi Zacharias would listen to me. As Walker reported, “I was ‘reassured’ that their doctrinal editor had read the article and signed off on it. I plead with this person to repent of these practices and was told that this person’s own SBC church has a labyrinth where they had such ‘a wonderful experience’.” As MacArthur just said:  Mysticial experiences are therefore self-authenticating.

If you wish to discover how the more conservative segment of the American Christian Church embraced her own demise the easiest thing to do is just look back at this Emerging Church as it starts circa 1997 with the Young Leaders Network spawning the Terra Nova Project via Doug Pagitt. I’ve covered this elsewhere so the simplest way for me to attempt to make it clear as to how we got here today is to remind you that the majority of these youth leaders and youth ministers from which this Emergent rebellion against the final authority of God’s Word would grow were semi-pelagian missionary types who were largely neo-orthodox (at best) i.e. experience interprets Scripture.

As such they were already predisposed to this kind of reckless faith of CSM because, for results, they placed orthopraxy (practice) ahead of orthodoxy (doctrine). You need to understand that so-called “Christian” mysticism aka CSM, which has CCP as its prime practice, was a core doctrine from the inception of the Emerging Church. Emergent Swami Brian McLaren has already told you that in the 2004 Christianity Astray Today article called The Emergent Mystique when he called Richard Foster and his spiritual twin Dallas Willard “key mentors” of the Emerging Church. With it they found the proverbial Trojan Horse within which to bring CSM inside the mainstream evangelical camp itself.

However, it is as was pointed out in Ravi Zacharias International Ministries Embracing Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism (Pt. 2); the fact is that, despite revisionist history to the contrary, the Lord’s Reformation came about in the first place because of this very same kind of  Tower of Babel-like spirituality still within the apostate Church of Rome today. And sadly, it seems that even evangelical ministries RZIM would have us return to what had so disgusted God that His Spirit moved upon His Reformers who risked their very lives in order to wrest His Church away from Satan’s seducing spirits who had infiltrated it.

Because this Emergent rebellion against the Bible does not speak in accord with Isaiah 8:20, and has called us to return to the Egypt of apostate Roman Catholic spirituality, it’s crystal clear to those of us whom God has sovereignly, and graciously, given eyes that see this whole CSM revival is a counterfeit form of Christianity and therefore cannot be a genuine move of the Holy Spirit. But that does not, however, rule out CSM producing very real, and very pleasant, experiences. Here’s where it’s so critical to keep in mind now what pastor Bob DeWaay has taught us above: Deceptions that do not “work” have a short shelf life. Make sense now.

We must also come to realize that a lot of what e.g. I’m covering here at AM these past four years is in fact interrelated because they are moved by the very seducing spirits who’ve been known right in the pages of Scripture for duping people with “nice” experiences. Haven’t you read — They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right!  Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions” (Isaiah 30:10). Or — “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace. (Jeremiah 6:14). Quite obviously these pleasant and peaceful things weren’t of God.

And neither is this syncretistic Emerging idea of learning truth about God from other religions. Only the really spiritually obtuse and/or unregenerate could miss what the Lord has said here — the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God, and I do not want you to be participants with demons (1 Corinthians 10:20). Well, here’s a real blast from the past: Adam and Eve tried to learn about God from a demon—in fact, the prince of demons—and it really didn’t work out too well. Maybe it’s time to take Scripture at face value; flee evil. There’s an old adage: He who has dinner with the Devil should use a long fork.

For now, concerning this Sola Scriptura-denying CSM, I prayerfully leave you to contemplate the following from God’s Word. Men and women, as we meditate upon the isssues touching on CSM and its CCP we’ll see they involve spiritual deceptions that are well beyond man’s intellect, which is why no one should venture into the spiritual realm without the protection of God the Holy Spirit. But this is precisely what the unregenerate and ignorant engaging in CSM are, in very fact, doing. Now notice above in our opening text that we’re told in verse 9 to expect all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders. 

One of the major doctrines of demons advanced by seducing spirits to the very gullible evangelical public, right now, is that if someone has a “nice” and/or “good” experience of a supernatural sort it’s automatically assumed to be of God. Wrong; spiritually dead wrong. In verse 9 above we find very good reason to be fearful. In this generation, you’d best be sure that you really do have a relationship with God through Christ because these counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders will look exactly the same as the true miracles, signs and wonders done by the original Apostles.

As a matter of fact, the very same Greek words are also used by God in Hebrews 2:4 regarding the miracles, signs and wonders done of the Holy Spirit in the first century! And common sense will tell you that the closer to the original a counterfeit is the more effective it’s going to be. So you’d better know what the text of the Bible says and remember that just because something appears to work; or feels good, or seems so “loving,” it most certainly does not necessarily mean it really is of God. Therefore, it doesn’t take a degree in theology to understand how spurious spirituality always ends in deadly deception; and with this CSM, we’ve been there, and done that, before.

See also: