"Are All Experiences Equal?"--A Message by Pastor and Author, David Pett

  Are All Experiences Equal?     
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]. 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."
'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 God!
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,..."
Through contemplative 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 which is not evangelical, not Lutheran, not a true Bible-based church, but is anti-American--Ed.] 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 Deut.18]
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 hell!
A Buddhist web site ~ ~ 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!

Copyright onText: (c) 2007, David Pett, All Rights Reserved

Copyright Format only: (c) 2007-22 Butterfly Productions, All Rights Reserved

Note on the author: This CE Mail message and others before and following it can be obtained by contacting the author, David Pett, via his email address (this may not work, as Pastor Pett is retired, far as we can tell). This message is given here by permission of the author. David Pett is a former pastor for many years, and is now serving as a temporary chaplain at various churches in this area and at retirement centers. He is a neighbor to my family and has led Bible study at the mobile home park here where my mother resides. He is truly a trustworthy man of God, and his own testimony is worth hearing. We hope to have it on-line soon. He invites comments and any remarks whatsoever. His email address is: [I have tried to get in contact, but this address did not work for me. Perhaps, some other on-line service can contact him. I am trying for the last time, on December 9, 2021]

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