Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Mystics Multiplying Myth

A while back Apprising Ministries pointed out e.g. in Tony Jones, The Emerging Church And Progressive Christianity that the term to watch for now ‘round the circles of the sinfully ecumenical neo-liberal cult of Emerging Church is “progressive.” For example, as we make the time to examine the latest escapades of Tony Jones, heretical “theologian in residence” at the EC church of his equally heretical universalist pastor Doug Pagitt, it would seem that he’s now recast himself as a progressive/liberal theologian ala Harvey Cox.

You may remember I told you in Emerging Church Prophets Following Their Own Spirit about an important upcoming EC conference called Big Tent Christianity: Being and Becoming the Church (BTC) in September; and its important to note that among “several leaders on the cutting edge of ‘Big Tent’ style ministry” we find Tony Jones paired with Harvey Cox to teach on “Frontier Thinking of Big Tent.” [1] And e.g. in Liberalism 2.0 The New Progressive Christian Theology I explained that “big tent” is a new postmodern form of Progressive Christianity.

In his latest book A New Kind of Christianity a bit ago Emergent Church guru Brian McLaren began systematically laying out this new hybrid form of postmodern progressive theology, which is a de-formation of the Christian faith they’re refering to now as Emergence Christianity. And a core doctrine of this mythical ooze has always been corrupt Contemplative Spirituality/Mysticism; a romaticized version of neo-Gnostic Roman Catholic mysticism as promulgated by Living Spiritual Teacher and Quaker mystic Richard Foster, along with his spiritual twin and Southern Baptist minister Dallas Willard.

For years now under the guise of so-called Spiritual Formation this CSM, which amounts to asceticism-lite neo-Pietism, was used to muddy the waters within mainstream evangelical Young Adult and Youth ministries. But for CSM to flourish it must kick out the proper Christian spirituality of Sola Scriptura in favor of highly subjective i.e. existential experiences one “feels” are from God. And the main vehicle for CSM is it’s crowning jewel, a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness known as Contemplative/Centering Prayer (CCP); the words contemplative and centering are interchangable.

Since it’s not the subject of this post, here I’ll just tell you what practitioners of CSM—such as the rock star of the EC Rob Bell—feel about mystics; no matter what religion they are. To these neo-Gnostics like Bell, mystics are supposedly “the great enlightened ones” who have a “deeper” undertsanding of “the Divine” or “Reality” i.e. God through their meditation, commonly known as “silence and solitude,” than we mere mortals silly enough to adhere to the proper Christian spiritiuality of Sola Scriptura; look for yourself in Through Rob Bell “The Great Enlightened Ones” Tell Us Man Has Divine Greatness.

As I recently showed you in Steve Gladen, Saddleback Church Small Groups, And Quaker Mystic Spirituality it couldn’t be clearer that what we’re actually dealing with here is an infestation into mainstream evangelicalism of a new form of Gnosticism where Bell et al are the “initiated” and “enlightened” ones who’re just a little bit better than the average Christian because of their practicing so-called spiritual disciplines. The most important one would be the supposed prayer while in an altered state of consciousness i.e. transcendental meditation-lite, which they have in common with other religons.

The Delusions Of Neo-Gnostic Mystics Always Attack Original Sin And Regeneration

I’ve also pointed out before that one of the delusions received by these mystics concerns “a spark of the divine” supposedly within all of mankind, and by which, they mean God already dwells within man. You may recall from Rob Bell And Shane Hipps Teaching Mysticism where the new co-teaching pastor at MHBC with Rob Bell, while teaching from the first chapter of John’s Gospel tells us that the Logos i.e. Christ—which Shane Hipps refers to as “it”—indwells even the unregenerate:

“It was the life and light of all people.” It didn’t say the light and life of the people who believe in Jesus. This logos affects everybody including Osama bin Laden, as long as he’s got breath, in him, is a spark of the divine. [2]

But what’s missing in the case of practicing Muslim extremist Osama bin Laden; regeneration, and the Bible clearly says of the unregenerate — Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:8). The next verse makes it clear enough that even a blind man could see the Spirit of God does not dwell within man before regeneration as he responds to the glorious Gospel of repentance for the forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ Name — You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him (Romans 8:9). Hipps contradicts Scripture. [3]

So now you can see that this alleged “true self” mystics speak of is also a lie; Roman Catholic mystic monk Thomas Merton (1915-1968), whose lifelong devotion to CSM made him more like the Buddha than the Christ as you can see in Thomas Merton And The Buddhas, talks about this myth when he speculated that at “the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth.” [4] A couple of quick points: 1) This is actually a denial of the doctrine of original sin; and 2) if we are “untouched by sin” in “the center of our being,” then we don’t need a crucified and risen Savior.

Mysticism is perfectly suited to the philosophy of postmoderism that now dominates much of this caprious culture in which we find ourselves; you see, as with neo-orthodoxy ala Karl Barth postmodernism is “anti-logical” and “embraces Paradox” [5] while its deconstructionists viciously attack rational thought with what’s commonly known as irrational philosophy:

Irrational philosophies accordingly stress the will at the expense of reason, as exemplified in the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre or Karl Jaspers. (Online source)

Roughly put, its influence upon our culture is why you’ll so often hear people say things like: “With all my heart I feel that’s a good thing”; in other words, truth is being decided by how someone feels as opposed to what is objectively known. Dr. Gene Veith, Culture Editor of World Magazine and former Associate Professor of English at Concordia University-Wisconsin, tells us this all results in “postmodernism assum[ing] that there is no objective truth, that moral values are relative, and that reality is socially constructed” by various “communities.” Veith then explains:

Whereas modernism sought to rid the world of religion, postmodernism spawns new ones. Unconstrained by objectivity, tradition, reason, or morality, these new faiths differ radically from Christianity. They draw on strains of the most ancient and primitive paganism. Even the deconstructionists speak in mystical terms…

The deconstructionists dissolve every positive statement, every rational argument, every truth claim—destroying form, they say, so as to open up what lies beyond the possibilities of representation… The inadequacies of language will be left behind,… Postmodernism, in its rejection of objective truth, have clear affinities with Hinduism and Buddhism, which teach that the external world is only an illusion spun by the human mind. [6]

Because of this, in his excellent sermon A Beginner’s Guide to Postmodernism Phil Johnson, executive director of John MacArthur’s fine Grace to You ministry who blogs at the popular Pyromaniacs blog, would say:

I am convinced that postmodernism is inherently incompatible with biblical Christianity; and in fact, the most essential elements of post modernism are hostile to the fundamental truth claims of Scripture. And for that reason, I would argue that a postmodern mindset involves some positively sinful ways of thinking. [7]

This is the background you need in order to de-code the neo-liberal i.e. progressive and mystic speak you’ll hear in the video Tim King – Conversion or Contribution from which we’ll look at next time.


[1], accessed 7/2/10.
[2], accessed 7/2/10.
[3] I have a more in-depth biblical refutation of this false teaching in Understanding The New Spirituality: God Indwells Mankind.
[4] Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander [New York: Doubleday, 1966], 158, emphasis mine.
[5] Gordon Clark, In Defense of Theology [Milford: Mott Media, 1984], 58, 61.
[6] Gene Veith, Jr., Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture [Wheaton: Crossway, 1994] , 193, 198, 199.
[7], accessed 6/10/10.

See also: