CATHOLICISM: A MODERN BABYLON — PART 16
(This article was originally printed in January, 2005)
A DEPARTURE FROM THE WORD OF GOD
“The Priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who deal with the Law did not know Me; the leaders rebelled against Me. The Prophets prophesied by Baal, following worthless idols” (Jer. 2:8).
The face of evangelicalism has been changed by two major campaigns popularly known as the “market driven church” and the “Purpose Driven Life” (PDL), based on Rick Warren’s #1 New York Times Bestseller. In future generations, these movements will come to be known for their unprecedented evasion of Scriptural authority! Why? Because we see that the recent shift in the evangelical church, which has been flourishing by these programs, has actually become a revolutionary overthrow of true spiritual authority! The authority for what the church has always believed — meaning “the authority of the Bible” — has changed! The basis for understanding the church’s life and purpose has shifted from God’s Word to psychological/sociological expertise, trends of pop-culture, business savvy, and an overlying philosophy of pragmatism (that truth is preeminently to be tested by practical results, that the “end justifies the means”).
MANIPULATION OF THE WORD
While these movements have never denied the Bible itself, they regularly deny it in much more subtle ways. They mistranslate it, misquote it, abuse its meaning, or attach sections of it to their own philosophies giving the appearance that Scripture backs their thinking. These manipulations erode the Power of God’s Word and give the appearance that taking Scripture at face value isn’t really that important. We are swiftly heading toward a Christianized community which has little use for the Bible rather than a community of true born-again Christians who live “. . . by every word that proceeds out of the Mouth of God” (Mat. 4:4). Notice the widespread phenomena of people coming to church services without their Bibles; notice how sermons are being reduced to streamlined Power-Point presentations and presented with pre-made fill-in-the-blank note cards for the listeners. Thus, the Church has become a “Christianity” devoid of the Majesty of God and the Wonder of His Word!
THE THREE-LEGGED STOOL
We are now being told about five major problems facing the world, which are so huge that so far everyone has failed to solve them; even the United States and the United Nations. Nobody has brought down the five global giants of “spiritual emptiness,” “egocentric or corrupt leadership,” “poverty,” “disease,” and “illiteracy.” Here is where Rick Warren presents the solution — “a three-legged stool.” Warren has said: “For the stability of a nation, you must have strong healthy government, strong healthy businesses, and strong healthy churches. A three-legged stool will have stability. So I’m going from country to country teaching business its role, teaching church its role, and teaching government leaders their role — you’ve got to work together! We cannot solve the problem in your country or in the world if we won’t work together” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 30, 2006). The three-legged stool is a concept developed and popularized by Peter Drucker, management guru and one of Rick Warren mentors. In fact, most all of the Purpose-Driven happenings can best be attributed back to Drucker’s management philosophies — and not the Word of God. However, not surprisingly, these philosophies do fit quite nicely into the international plan for a new world order. “Think global, Act local” has been the mantra of the international globalist community ever since the early 1970’s, and the role of the church in this system is:
1. To become a “universal distribution” system for health care, business development, teaching literacy, etc.;
2. To become the “largest volunteer force” in the world; and,
3. To seize upon its greatest asset, which Rick Warren claims is “local credibility” in every village.
In other words, the church is to serve as the “center” or “hub” of the community, which networks and collaborates with government agencies and corporate entities in order to achieve a so-called “healthy society.” But what and who defines “healthy” as used in these management philosophies? All modern-day management theories are geared to create better “workers” for the global community and economy. These theories are derived from the social sciences, anthropology, psychology, sociology, and upon digging a little deeper, we find that many are actually rooted in pagan mysticism! None of these concepts have anything to do with Scripture; they are all rather psycho-social in nature, and now they are being widely exported on a global scale. Sadly, thousands of pastors worldwide are being trained by Rick Warren in these humanistic models under the guise of “Christianity.” The three-legged church is not about the Gospel of Jesus Christ! As you can see, the Church in this model becomes a social welfare agency, an arm of both the corporate and state and a “global distribution network.” Thus, the church has become a useful tool for those who have other purposes in mind, and we see that their plans are to blend all religions into one acceptable religion worldwide! And what better way to do this than through mysticism since all religions, with the exception of true Christianity, have a mystic side to them. The Roman Catholic mystics and their mystical practices including contemplative prayer, breath prayer, lectio divina, the stations of the cross, labyrinths, enneagrams, yoga, drumming, taize, etc., are already invading the true church!
RELIGIOUS MYSTICISM AND BIBLICAL SPIRITUALITY
It is obvious that a trend toward ecumenical unity and reconciliation is most fashionable within the modern church today, and mysticism is surely one of the most effective ways it is being accomplished. Mysticism deceptively focuses people upon a shared, personal religious experience with God, which appears to supercede doctrinal disputes. But keep in mind that bypassing doctrine means you must bypass the Word of God, and ignoring God’s Word will only lead to a spirit world apart from God. “It would seem that there are many professing evangelicals today who fail to understand the difference between religious mysticism and biblical spirituality” (Morrison, Alan. The Evangelical Attraction to Mysticism.) At one time, however, mysticism was openly and unsympathetically opposed by those wishing to save their brothers in Christ from mysticism’s deadly deceptions. According to The Zondervan Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions, and the Occult, “Mysticism has had outspoken opponents — mostly from Protestant circles, who maintain that it was a derivative of ancient paganism and Gnosticism because it diverts attention away from the Gospel” (Mather, G.A. & Nichols, Larry A. eds., 1993, p.201). The infiltration of the Babylonian pagan religion into the church of Rome brought mystic practices right along with the rest of their pagan doctrines and idol-worship. We will later see how that the Roman Catholic monastic system provided a welcome home. But let’s first look at what mysticism actually involves.
MYSTICISM IS AN ATTEMPT TO REACH GOD WITHOUT COMING TO THE CROSS OF CHRIST
It is somewhat difficult to concisely define mysticism. One scholar explains it as the search for unio mystica, personal union with God (Moynahan, Brian. The Faith, 2002, p.269). Another describes it this way: “The mystic believes that there is an absolute and that he or she can enjoy an unmediated link to this absolute in a superrational experience” (Corduan, Winfried. Mysticism: an Evangelical Option, 1991, p.32). There “. . . are at least three distinct categories of mysticism: panenthenic, in which, as Carl Jung thought, a segment of the collective unconscious intrudes, on the conscious mind; monistic such as found in Hinduism and Buddhism whereby the individual is merged into the impersonal All, whatever that is called: and theistic in which the absolute is God, although not necessarily the true God” (p.45-46). Professor Ferguson, the Dean of Open University and an advocate of mysticism, states that “First, mystics believe that there is an Ultimate Being, a dimension of existence beyond that experienced through the senses . . . [which] is often, though not invariably, conceived in personal terms and called God . . . Second, mystics claim that the Ultimate can in some sense be known or apprehended . . . Third, the soul perceives the Ultimate through inward sense . . . Fourthly, it would be widely held by mystics that there is an element in the soul akin to the Ultimate, a divine spark . . . a holy spirit within. In this way, to find God is to find one’s true self . . . Fifth, mysticism has as its zenith the experience of union with the Ultimate . . . The mystic seeks to pass out of all that is merely phenomenal, out of all lower forms of reality, to become Being itself” (An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Mysticism and Mystery Religions, Thames & Hudson, 1976, p.127). To sum it all up, one might say that mysticism is an attempt to reach God without coming to the Cross of Christ! Man is separated from God by sin, not a lack of spiritual knowledge, union, or consciousness! And it was only the Cross which once and for all bridged that great gulf between God and man called sin!
WHATEVER IS NOT OF FAITH IS SIN
There are three basic phases in the journey of the mystic: purgation, illumination, and union. A basic understanding of the mystical journey will help us identify mysticism’s ideology and practices, which have managed to creep into segments of the church from the earliest times. (The stages do not necessarily have to follow this exact order.) While the average practitioner may never fully experience all stages, the true mystic will strive to reach the maximum impact of the entire process. Keep in mind, though, that the Bible teaches no process in which man plays any role except to have faith: “. . . for whatsoever is not of faith is sin” (Rom. 14:23). And, what is the faith? Trust in God’s Grace for the accomplishment of one’s entire existence in Him. This most certainly includes the process of sanctification, which we will see becomes very important in avoiding the trap of mystic ideology. The first stage of mysticism, Purgation, involves the works-oriented idea that through some sort of physical suffering and/or denial of fleshy pleasures and material things one can attain holiness. Supposedly a forced detachment from the world will cleanse you and prepare you to experience more of God, even though this type of thinking is a direct denial of the Blood of Jesus. Often the stage of purgation begins with an intense self-examination in order to further rid “self” of its harmful hang-ups, which supposedly only keep the person attached to earthly concerns. For instance, Sixteenth-Century monk, St. John of the Cross, is best known for his description of purgation which he calls the “dark night of the soul,” and during this shadowy time of soul-searching, the person will usually experience a point of despair or abandonment by God. In modern psychiatry, this point may be called a “catharsis.”
DISCIPLES WITHOUT THE CROSS
The second stage, Illumination, begins to emerge from purgation in which the individual begins to see “spiritually,” coming to know transcendent “truths,” “realities,” or “God” through non-rational means. In other words, mystics believe that the normal senses and reason cannot understand God (including the rational study of Scripture); you must be illuminated to see things in the spirit realm. The mystic often experiences inner voices or visions at this time, which they mistakenly consider to be insight from God. Mystics try to achieve illumination through fasting, ritualistic prayer, and other various spiritual disciplines. Some of the best of these disciplines were designed by the Catholic monk and founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius Loyola. In fact, Richard Foster, who is widely respected among the evangelical community, despite his background as a Quaker/“inner light” mystic, patterns his book, The Celebration of Disciple, upon Loyola’s “Spiritual Exercises.” The Celebration of Discipline has been endorsed by many including Willow Creek, Dallas Willard, Youth Specialties, Focus on the Family, Abilene Christian University, and Regent University. Eugene Peterson, author of The Message Bible translation, had said that Richard Foster has “. . . found the spiritual disciplines [in the mystics] that the modern world stored away and forgot, and has excitedly called us to celebrate them” (book review on Celebration of Discipline. Gary Gilley, p.206).
We inevitably find, as well, that the majority of these spiritual practices attempt to put one in an altered state of consciousness attempting to uncover some buried knowledge trapped in our subconscious mind. This is a distinct trait of mysticism, that it always “. . . involves the utilization of certain practices in order to bring about an altered state of consciousness so that the person cannot only personally experience the Divine presence — however that may be perceived — but actually become unified with the Divine Essence, usually in a stupendous ecstatic experience” (Morrison). These mind-altering disciplines are largely entering the modern church today under the guise of “contemplative prayer,” “spiritual formation,” “meditation,” “Christian counseling,” and even “extreme worship.” What’s really scary about this is that the subconscious mind brings information that is not reality! Dreams are a result of an altered state of consciousness, but they are not real! Drugs alter your mind and senses as well, but drug-induced inspirations and/or hallucinations are not messages from God. The Bible implores believers over and over again to “Be Sober”. The Christian should be in his right mind at all times. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the Devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8). “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of Faith and Love; and for an helmet, the Hope of Salvation” (I Thess. 5:8).