Here is the most recent CEMail
I sent out this morning. Most of those on my email list are
pastors ~ perhaps 140 or more. This is something we need to
which we need to be aware.
Are All Experiences
Some teachings are
clearly heretical! Others seem innocent
enough and are pleasing to the senses but
are borderline; they open the door to error.
Borderline heresies are
primarily psychic and are generally based on feelings
rather than on Scriptures and absolute truth. As long as the seeker feels good
about his spiritual experience, all's well!
Consider the thought
process of popular author Tony Campolo in his article,
Mystical Encounters for Christians [See
BeliefNet.com]. Campolo writes of his waning spiritual
interest and his subsequent renovation:
"I have experienced an
unspoken dissatisfaction with my own spiritual life... I
sensed that believing in Jesus and living out His teachings
just wasn't enough." [Now there's an open door for heresy! -
Ed.] Campolo continues: "There was a yearning for something
more,..." So he turned to ancient mystical Celtic prayer
practices, writing: "I practice what is known as
'centering prayer,' in which a sacred word [such as grace or
hope or Jesus - Ed.] is repeated as a way to be in God's
presence. I've got to push everything out of mind save the
name of Jesus. I say His name over and over again, for as long
as fifteen minutes, until I find my soul suspended... where
the boundary between heaven and earth, divine and human,
dissolves. You could say that I use the name of Jesus as my
'Koan' is the Japanese
word used in Buddhist practice. In his latest book, Letters to a
Young Evangelical, Campolo talks in chapter 3 on
"centering prayer," writing: "As I lie alone in bed in
the early-morning quiet, I wait for God to invade me, to fill
my soul, and to take possession of me." [But how can he be
sure it is the God of Scripture that takes possession?]
Campolo continues: "After the Reformation, we Protestants left
behind much that was troubling about the Roman Catholicism of
the fifteenth century. I am convinced that we left too much
behind. The methods of praying employed by the likes of
Ignatius have become precious to me. With the help of some
Catholic saints, my prayer life has deepened."
It is clear that Campolo
is susceptible to influences other than the Spirit of God, for
other spirits readily come as "angels of light," not as
fearsome demons. We who read his books are likewise
vulnerable. The same spirit that saturates
this latest book is latent throughout his earlier books.
Transcendendal meditation is in this
same camp. Stephen Collins, star of
the popular TV series, Seventh Heaven,
identifies the problem with TM, saying, "What I love about the
peace-creating technology of TM is that it doesn't require any
other changes for it to work."
To enter this "spiritual
realm" it is essential for the participant to empty the mind
of all thoughts, as well as lay aside Biblical notions on
sin, Jesus Christ, grace and salvation. There are a host
of web sites aimed at Christians [there are more than 78,000
such sites on the topic]. Advocates suggest that instead of a
"sacred word" you could use the Stations of the Cross as a
labyrinth tool for prayer, or Anglican Prayer Beads. These
prayer methods are closely akin to the Tibetan Buddhist Prayer
Wheel [which can be purchased on line for $25 ~ free
shipping]. Just think of it: For only $25 you can contact
All of these "methods"
to be employed in our prayer lives are intended to make us
feel good about God ~ any God. And if we feel good
about him, he obviously feels good about us. An
ELCA web site tells us: "When most people think
of prayer beads the Roman Catholic Rosary is most likely to
come to mind - or perhaps Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu Prayer
beads. Eastern Orthodox prayer ropes or beads are also very
popular. But, the use of prayer beads is increasing among
people of many faith traditions,..."
prayer in its various forms and practices we readily find the
connection between Catholics, Buddhists, Lutherans, Moslems,
Episcopals, Hindus and Evangelicals.
The ELCA [Evangelical
Lutheran Church of America] site goes on to say that the "use
of prayer beads creates a rhythm that discourages distractions
and focuses attention so that the one who prays can more
readily move into God's presence."
The Bible-believer wants
to know: Where is the God of the Bible in all this? Is He
equally present in all religions, able to be contacted by
Moslems and Buddhists in the same way that a
Christian comes to know Him through Jesus Christ? And what
about Jesus? Did He need to die? Why, if God can be contacted
using a method, what did Jesus' death do for us? And is
this any different from a seance, tarot cards, the ouiji board
or a psychic hearing, all condemned in Scripture? [See
What is our assurance ~
using the Buddhist koan method as employed by Tony Campolo
~ that we are meeting with God? Or, could it be that
though we use the name of Jesus that another Jesus deceives
us? Paul was so concerned with the undiscerning Corinthians
that he warned, "if someone comes preaching another Jesus whom
we have not preached, you will no doubt go along with him."
[See 2 Cor. 11:4]
Again, if methods work,
what is the benefit of the Cross where Jesus died? What should
we do with the promises that are centered in the Death and
Resurrection of Jesus? Are they essential anymore?
A Cross-less Christianity is
worthless, being powerless to deliver from sin and
A Buddhist web site ~
JustBeGood.net ~ lets us know right up front that Jesus is not
needed: That web site leads with this bold and colorful
phrase: "ANYONE can go to HEAVEN Just be GOOD!" It then tells
us that interest in Buddhism is growing steadily, especially
in the West. If this heresy stayed outside the church we could
recognize it. But it has been embraced by evangelical who
have welcomed it into the santuary.
When Jesus died He
removed the sin and tore away the curtain that kept man from
God. When a man is converted, forgiven, born
again, he has authority and assurance; Calvary has done an
effective work in his life. The Blood delivered him from sin,
and the Cross delivered him from self. A.B. Simpson wrote
~ and we used to sing:
Oh to be saved from myself, dear Lord:
Oh to be lost in Thee.
Oh that it might be no more I,
But Christ who lives in me!
Much, much more could be
said about this fatal alternative to the Gospel of Jesus
Christ ~ but you fill in between the lines. Sad indeed if all
that can be said of you and me is that we put out the welcome
mat for this foolish and fatal heresy. But glorious indeed is
the privilege of being ambassadors for Jesus Christ, the
one who was made sin for us that we might be made
the righteousness of God in Christ [See 2 Cor.5:20-21].
He is our vision, our mission and our ministry!
May God bless you as you
express His life!
Your input is welcome.
To add a name to our CEMail list or have your name
removed, send a reply to Able007@comcast.net. If my thinking is off-center, be
brave and blunt: Send me an email. dP