Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life and pastor of Saddleback church in California, made a tweet today recommending a pagan mantra "technique" for Christians to do when they pray, with a link to a site that teaches exactly how to do it. First, here's the tweet:
And here is where the link from Rick Warren's tweet takes you so that you can get step-by-step instructions for "centering" your life on Jesus:
Now, for comparison purposes only, please compare the above Centering Prayer "technique" recommended by Rick Warren to this one from a Buddhist website:
Why am I showing what Buddhist meditation looks like? Well, as regular readers of this blog know, I came out of the New Age, and while in the New Age I practiced many different types of mystical meditation (Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, pagan, etc.). And because of this, I can therefore attest that what Rick Warren is promoting is exactly like what I practiced as a New Ager doing mystical meditation. The only thing that differs between so-called "Christian mysticism" and pagan mysticism is the "device" used for emptying the mind. And sadly, the big thing in churches now is to try to make this pagan practice "Christian" by adding Christian terminology. But the addition of Christian terminology does not somehow "sanctify" this practice and make it Christian. Any time a Christian hears the word "technique" they should run for the hills. We do not need a technique for approaching God! We approach him through the shed blood of Christ, and this is what we place our faith in. We are to be people of faith, which means we walk by faith and not by sight. In practical terms, this means that we do not require tangible experiences that we can point to to convince us that we are close to God. We are close to God because we know we have approached him on his terms: through faith alone in Christ alone. Remember that Jesus said, after offering up his hands and his side for Thomas to examine, that there was a blessing for Christians who would come later who would believe without requiring some tangible, experiential "proof" of God:
“Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29)Yes, it is fine to go to a quiet place, calm the mind, maybe even take a few deep breaths. But focus on a word or phrase until one's mind is emptied? No! Doing this technique puts a person into an altered state of consciousness, where the mind is not engaged. Once a person has used the technique to "park" the brain, he or she is still awake and somewhat aware but his or her God-given boundaries are down. So what happens to a person in this state? Mantra meditation is so very seductive because it generates a very powerful experience, an experience that is very real and feels very spiritual, and which deceives one into feeling as if they are actually encountering "God." But let us not forget our warning from Scripture:
"No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light."(2 Corinthians 11:14)Also, the Bible NEVER tells us to circumvent the mind to go to God.....instead, it tells us:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30, my emphasis)And also this:
"And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words." (Matthew 6:7)"Meaningless repetition?" If that's not a description for pagan, occultic, mind-altering, mantra meditation, I don't know what is. Friends, this is dangerous, dangerous stuff. Beware, beware, beware.
Mysticism: Who Needs Crack?