Showing posts with label discernment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label discernment. Show all posts

Monday, September 29, 2014

Mourning the Loss of a Friend and Brother In Christ

Posted by Christine Pack

I am mourning the loss of a friend and comrade in arms, Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries. Ken was the pastor of Connecticut River Baptist Church, but he was more widely known as the creator of the Apprising Ministries website, a site devoted to exposing false teachings in today's church. Apprising was one of the first websites I found that was devoted to discernment and theological issues, a site which helped me begin to make sense of what I was seeing in the church.  My husband and I were both saved as adults in a seeker sensitive church (though we didn't know it was seeker sensitive at the time), a church that began to drift into emergent theology (i.e., yoga classes and mysticism), all of which was very confusing and upsetting for me especially: as a former mystic and New Ager, I KNEW that yoga and mysticism weren't biblical, and I couldn't comprehend why Christians were doing these things.  Ken's articles helped me understand why I was seeing these changes in the church. And so his site became an oasis for me.

At one point, I gathered the courage to email Ken with a question about one of his articles. It took courage, you see, because Ken's articles could be pretty tough and hard-hitting. But when I received Ken's response, I was immediately struck by how kind he was. From that point forward, I knew he was a safe haven for me to go to and ask questions, which I began to with regularity. Even though Ken's articles were hard hitting, there was one thing that you could count on with Ken: you knew his articles would be accurate and meticulously researched. He knew his stuff. And above all, he sought to exalt God and the truth of God's word.

One thing that people don't know about Ken just from reading his articles was how kind and selfless he was. Behind the scenes, he really had a shepherd's heart. I've lost count of the Christians who, upon hearing of Ken's death, have come forward and shared how Ken personally took time to talk with them via email or phone or Skype about this or that issue they were struggling with. Teaching fellow Christians how to rightly divide God's word, and rightly apply discernment, was extremely important to Ken, and not because he viewed discernment as an end in and of itself, but because he wanted more than anything to exalt Christ, and he wanted to see other Christians maturing spiritually and becoming more steady in their walks, and not be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.

Some of Ken's theological opponents have commented on the fact that Ken did not have a prominent media presence, other than the Apprising Ministries website. This was true. Ken did not seek prominence and media exposure for himself. The simple fact is that Ken didn't choose to make himself prominent because he wanted to make Christ prominent. Ken did make his contact information available, and for those who wanted to connect to Ken, he was freely available. All of the behind the scenes discipling he did was done "off the radar." As I said earlier, he had personally helped me, and I knew of a few others who had reached out to him for counsel. But I never knew the sheer scope of how many he had helped, until his death, and Christians began coming forward and sharing how he had helped them personally, patiently and quietly, sometimes spanning months and even years, and none of this in a way that was for public consumption. A true mark of a shepherd.

Ken helped me get my start in writing, and for that, I owe him a great debt. He pushed me to be buttoned up in my research, to document everything, and he often, as noted above, would very patiently work through complex issues with me.

Ken had a silly sense of humor. And nicknames, Ken had many nicknames! Being a former high school coach, one obvious nickname for him, and the one I addressed him by most, was “Coach.” It was a good nickname for him, because, like a good coach, he got the best out of those he was teaching. He was honest, patient, kind, committed, loyal and he also wasn't afraid to correct or rebuke if necessary, which he did with great kindness, as a good coach should. A few of Ken's other nicknames were Ninja Ken, Big K and UltraKen.  That last nickname, “UltraKen,” came about when a bunch of emergents, often the target of some of Ken's toughest articles, wrote up their own snarky article about a fictional discernment blogger named "UltraKen" that contained a grainy Japanese video of their nemesis UltraKen, a mysterious Super Hero who somehow cloned himself into an army and battled emergent and other theological foes, all while wearing silver tights and showing off some impressive dance moves. The nickname stuck. Occasionally after that, when Ken would cover an issue that he suspected might be a contentious one, he would joke that he was about to "go all Ultra" or "unleash his Ultra." I once earned from Ken the title "Ultra Sister" over an article I had written, something I considered a high honor.

Ken had been having significant health issues for several years. He always seemed to rally, and I guess I thought he always would, but this time he didn't. But at the same time, like all true believers, Ken knew that this world was not his home, and he looked forward to the day when he would see his Savior face to face. Thankfully, Ken's suffering has now ceased. And I also know that Ken was ushered into the presence of his Lord and Savior, undoubtedly with the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant" (Matthew 25:23) ringing in his ears. Someday I will see Ken again, and when that day comes, there will be no more battles for truth: no more hostile attacks from without, and no more “friendly fire” from within. All will be known, and there will be perfect reconciliation and peace among all of us who are in glory together, as we worship our Savior. In the words of the old gospel hymn, “what a day of rejoicing that will be.”

Taps is usually reserved for military funerals, and even though Ken was not in the military, in my mind, he was a true warrior. He fought the good fight, and he sought to uphold the truth of God's word all the time that I knew him. He was my friend, and I will miss him greatly. See you one day in glory, Coach.
"When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?'" (1 Cor 15:54-55)
"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.'" (Rev 21:3-4)

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Christian and Essential Oils: A Few Thoughts [UPDATED]

Posted by Christine Pack and Cathy Mathews

photo credit: Plume Natural Perfumery via photopin cc
[NOTE and UPDATE: As of 9-22-14, Gary Young, president of Young Living Essential Oils, has been warned by the FDA that he must stop his distributors from diagnosing illness and prescribing essential oils as medicine for treating cancer and preventing Ebola contamination, among many other things, without being medically licensed to do so. The FDA letter, which falls under the category of "Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations" can be read in its entirety here. ]

For those Christians who haven't heard, essential oils are big business. Big, big business. Make no mistake: essential oils are the hottest thing going since yoga invaded the church a decade ago. One of the largest and most well known of these essential oils companies is Young Living. Young Living sells its products through Multi-Level Marketing (MLM), a pyramid form of selling that works through networking. (Other MLM companies that might be familiar to some readers are Amway, Juice Plus, Pampered Chef, Herbalife and Mary Kay.)

If you happen to be one of the few that hasn't yet heard about essential oils, just wait. One day soon your Facebook inbox will blow up with invitations to this or that essential oils home party. If you choose to attend one of these parties, you might learn some useful tips for making nice-smelling homemade cleaning products or cosmetics with essential oils, but you might also be exposed to some very unbiblical concepts about sin, sanctification and illness.

Before I go any further, let me first state clearly that we are not concerned with the use of essential oils in foods, cosmetics and cleansers, because those uses do not generally have spiritual implications.* We also view essential oils to be, in and of themselves, spiritually neutral. By that, we mean that we believe Christians can use them with a clean conscience and a right understanding of man, nature, God, physical vs. spiritual healing, etc. BUT, we do also want to warn that some EO companies and distributors (Young Living, in particular, which was founded by a professing Christian named Gary Young) use, sell, promote, and teach about EOs using New Age/New Thought concepts and spirituality, specifically in the areas of sin, sanctification and illness, and concepts that are clearly counter to what the Bible teaches on these things.

The area of alternative treatments, in general, is a tricky one to navigate, as we don't have any desire to throw out all alternative treatments as being bad or unbiblical. What we do want to do is give clear warnings about the dangers that we do see about how some alternative products are marketed, since many of our readers will probably come into contact with some of this thinking, given that alternative treatments, on the whole, have become mainstreamed not only in the culture at large, but also, within the Christian community (and particularly the Christian homeschooling community).

Having said all that, our primary concerns are as follows:
(1) We are concerned when essential oils (or other alternative treatments) are marketed as having spiritual benefits that should only be ascribed to God;
(2) We desire to warn about Young Living essential oils being marketed with unbiblical concepts; 
(3) We desire to give clear warnings that the alternative treatment industry, on the whole, is almost entirely unregulated, and to educate others about what the implications of this are; and 
(4) We are concerned when Christians choose to partner with, promote and sell products in tandem with companies that are undergirded with New Age/New Thought beliefs (i.e., being "unequally yoked").
* Although our primary concerns, as noted, are spiritual in nature and not physical, at the same time I suspect that runaway allergies and sensitives among heavy essential oil users will start showing up over the next decade, and this is why: just because the oils are "natural," and come from oranges, lavender, roses, etc. (and not out of a lab) doesn't mean that they are in their natural state as God made them. Essential oils are highly concentrated. I used lots of essential oils while in the New Age, for almost a decade, and guess what? I am sensitive and/or allergic to most of them now, at least the ones I used on a regular basis. Also, today's EO users use the oils far more than I ever did as a New Ager: diffusers running all day, homemade counter spray, homemade laundry detergent, homemade dishwashing soap, homemade cosmetics, and more, all scented with EOs. Allergies develop through repeated exposure to something. Well, that's a lot of exposure right there.


Below are some Young Living essential oils product descriptions which reveal the usage of New Age/New Thought concepts and statements for the marketing of the YL Oils:
White Angelica: Promotes feelings of protection and security, and can be used to guard against negative energy.  
Balsam Fir: may be used to balance moods, promote a sense of well being and increase spirituality. 
Douglas Fir: Used by Native Americans to enhance spirituality. 
Juniper: promotes spirituality and encourages self esteem. Traditionally taken internally for purification and cleansing. 
Ylang Ylang: traditionally used to balance the mind and emotions, this oil may also help control negative feelings such as frustration and anger.  
Abundance: Was used by the ancients to attract prosperity and magnify joy and peace. 
Aroma Life: used to energize your life force and promote heart vitality. 
Australian Blue: will uplift the spirit and purify the body. This oil is taken from a plant that is revered in aboriginal culture. 
Dream Catcher: is designed to harness the power of positive dreams and guard against clouded vision, helping you realize your desires and stay on the path to fulfillment.
(You can view all Young Living essential oil product descriptions by going to this link)
The quotes below come directly from the CEO of Young Living, Gary Young, and have direct bearing on his views and marketing strategies for his essential oils. (HT: Chuck and Julie Cohen) My commentary and notes are in blue following the comments by Young.

Blog entries by Gary Young:
Surrender Negativity and Unconscious Manipulation – 10-18-12
“Disease is nothing more than manipulation, because disease creates control and gives you power over everyone around you. So then surrender, create the energy of giving it up, surrender that attachment; surrender that control.” 
MY NOTE: this is not the biblical view of disease, which is that disease is a result of the Fall. Young's view is more in keeping with Taoism.
The Transforming Power of Frankincense – 4-26-12 
“As you are diffusing Transformation, it will stimulate the receptors in the limbic system and will open up the pineal gland. You will start to have feelings and thoughts, and maybe you will even see in a dream state ideas or visions of what can happen in your life.” 
MY NOTE: We're not taught anywhere in scripture to attempt to manipulate energy centers ["energy centers" AKA "chakras" occult Hindu concept] in the body [whether that's through yoga, meditation, acupuncture, application of essential oils, etc., etc.] in order to have dreams or visions about the future for our lives. In fact, this goes directly against what God says in Deut 29:29 "The hidden things belong to the Lord." All that God wants us to know, He reveals plainly to us.......chasing after hidden knowledge is akin to witchcraft, and God detests it.
Five Secrets to Having More Energy and Vitality, Part III - 12-12-11 
“As we continue through the Five Secrets for More Energy series, we come to the third chakra, otherwise known as the fire chakra. This energy center is located at the solar plexus and corresponds to our passion for life and our will, drive, and ability to express anger. When our fire chakra energy is low, blocked, or depleted, we may experience depression or boredom and lose touch with our purpose and passion. 
In our culture, expressing anger is a touchy subject. Performing polarity yoga combined with Young Living essential oils may help you unleash anger and help you reconnect to your passion. Remember: According to energy medicine principles, if your energy is not moving, it gets stuck and stagnant—which leads to imbalances and possible illness. The secret to having more energy is to keep the energy you do have moving!” 
MY NOTE: So many problems here.......First of all, these are blatant teachings of the Hindu/occult concept of the chakra system. Also, this is not the biblical model for how someone is to deal with anger/sin. Anger doesn't just get fixed by someone's "energy" being manipulated or "balanced." For the Christian, besetting sins should be acknowledged, repented of, and prayed over, while making conscious efforts to put off the deeds of the flesh and put on the deeds of the Spirit. And finally, his teaching that having imbalances of energy can lead to illness is a Taoist concept, not a Christian one. Christians don't see all of creation living in a perfect and whole harmony, with occasional energy imbalances that need to be righted through various means (yoga, acupuncture, reiki, meditation, oils, etc., etc.). That is the Taoist view. The Christian view on the other hand, is that when Adam and Eve fell, ALL of the earth was cursed. "For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now." (Rom 8:22)
In addition to these quotes from Young Living founder Gary Young, Young also cites a book called Healing Oils in the Bible. The author of this book, David Stewart, seems to equate all biblical references to "oil" with essential oils. But this idea that oils used during biblical times were essential oils is not accurate. In fact, there is no documented historical evidence for usage of essential oils during biblical times. This is because the procedure for making essential oils had not yet been invented, and would not be created for another 800 years or so. Oils and oil usage are referenced a number of times in the Bible, but these are references to regular, pressed oils (like olive oil) or infused oils, not essential oils. For an excellent analysis of the problems with Stewart's book, please see our recently published article, A Critique of David Stewart's "Healing Oils of the Bible." This article was written by Sola Sisters contributing writer Marcia Montenegro. Marcia, a former professional astrologer, is the creator of the Christian Answers For the New Age website, is seminary trained, and is also a contributing writer to Rose Publishing, a resource very familiar to many homeschooling Christians. (Please also note that Stewart has written an article [Are Chakras New Age?] affirming an eastern [and unbiblical] view of the body known as the chakra system.)

For a more in-depth analysis of the unbiblical concepts used in the marketing of Young Living essential oils, please see Chuck and Julie Cohen's excellent article, Aromatherapy: Biblical Path to Healing or Demonic Deception?


Abundance essential oil blend, from theYoung Living website
Here is just one example of Young Living essential oils being marketed with unbiblical concepts. This is a Young Living essential oil blend called "Abundance," which is marketed with the idea that with this oil, the user can activate what is known as the "Law of Attraction." This is not a biblical concept. It is more in alignment with New Thought, which is what Oprah Winfrey believes. Professing Christians who are Word of Faith also believe this concept, but it is still an unbiblical concept. (You can read more about the "Law of Attraction" here, and why it is unbiblical.)

The way in which the above oil blend is marketed with unbiblical concepts is only one of many examples from the Young Living website. To see this for yourself, please visit the Young Living website - Young Living Essential Oil Singles can be viewed hereYoung Living Essential Oil Blends can be viewed here. Below are a few more screenshots of products with product descriptions.

Aroma Life essential oil blend, from the Young Living website

Dream Catcher essential oil blend, from the Young Living website
Forgiveness essential oil blend, from the Young Living website

Release essential oil blend, from the Young Living website
White Angelica essential oil blend, from the Young Living website

"You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons too; you cannot have a part in both the Lord's table and the table of demons." (1 Cor 10:21) 


From the article entitled The Truth About Nutrition Supplements (Fitness Magazine, Oct 2009):
"According to a 2002 Harris Poll, more than half of us believe that a government agency like the Food and Drug Administration is keeping a watchful eye on the $20 billion supplement industry......It's not. The federal regulators who would normally be all over poor-quality supplements had their hands tied by a piece of legislation signed into law by President Clinton in 1994 called the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA). The bill was intended to make dietary supplements -- including vitamins, minerals, and herbs -- more widely available by classifying them not as drugs, like aspirin or ibuprofen, but as foods. In practice, that means supplements not only don't have to do what they promise (such as protect against disease) but don't even have to be safe.........The results have been predictable: In 2004 alone, more than 24,000 "toxic exposures" to supplements were reported, while other research showed that some supplements contain potentially dangerous contaminants such as lead, mercury, pesticides, mold, and bacteria.........No wonder some consumer advocates say that this regulatory loophole has helped create a marketplace that fails to protect consumers from contaminated, adulterated and, in some cases, deadly supplements."
photo credit: veo_ via photopin cc
A recent program (Safety and Regulation of Dietary Supplements) on the secular radio station NPR (National Public Radio) also highlighted the growing concern among even the lost that the alternative treatment industry (which includes essential oils) is a largely unregulated arena. I highly recommend for anyone wanting to use, or already using, natural supplements to listen to this program. It was mentioned during the show that testing done by a group called Consumer Labs found that, on many occasions, what was on the outside label of bottles of natural/herbal supplements did NOT accurately portray what was contained within. The reason for this is because there are very few regulatory practices put into place for ensuring quality/accuracy in alternative/"natural"/herbal supplements. What this means is that a person can buy a bottle of an herbal supplement, and be getting something other than what is labeled on the front of the bottle. It could be 100% of the herb, could be 90/10 - herb/filler, or 10/90 - herb/filler, or could be all filler. Same thing with essential oils: a bottle labeled "100% Essential Oil" could be 100% of the oil you are expecting, OR, it could be comprised of 90% carrier oil (like linseed oil, almond oil or olive oil) with only 10% of the essential oil.'s an unregulated industry.

Just like there are sinful men involved in the FDA, sinful men who act selfishly and make wrong decisions, there are also sinful men involved in the alternative treatment industry. But the sinful men involved in the alternative treatment industry are entirely unregulated, meaning they do not have to meet any scientific or federal standards for the claims they make about their supplements. Both sides are flawed, but at least the FDA has some measure of accountability due to regulatory requirements.

I literally spent thousands on supplements during my decade as a New Ager without knowing that these herbal/natural supplements were (and still are) unregulated. And not only can the substance within not match up with the label, distributors of natural/herbal supplements are not held to the same standards that those in the pharmaceutical industry are held to, in terms of claiming benefits for a supplement that haven't been scientifically verified. And while the common belief is that herbals are only benign, and can only help (and never harm), this is not necessarily true. There is a reason why your doctor often asks you to list not only all medications you are taking, but also all over-the-counter vitamins, mineral and herbal supplements you are taking as well: some supplements can interfere with your prescribed medicines, and some can even work in tandem with your prescribed medicines to cause harm. For more on this, please see the following articles:
Dietary And Herbal Supplements Could Interfere With Prescription Drugs (Medical News Today) 
Herbal Supplements May Not Mix With Heart Medicines (Mayo Clinic) 
- 5 Risky Herbal Supplements: Even Though They're Natural, Some Herbal Supplements Can Be Dangerous (Web MD)
- Warning: Herbal Supplements Don't Always Go Well With Heart Drugs (U.S. News and World Report)
Those selling oils and herbs and other supplements shouldn't automatically get a pass because they are selling "natural" items. Herbs and oils are not somehow more holy than pharmaceuticals (and even though I get that there are problems with the pharmaceutical industry, including over-diagnosis of many medications, that's another topic for another day). The alternative treatment realm is an industry that makes profits in the billions. And yes, that's right up there with Big Pharma.

"Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" (2 Cor 6:14)
Why would a Christian knowingly sell a product that is marketed with New Age/New Thought/panentheistic concepts, and which could introduce a Christian purchaser to spiritual beliefs that are unbiblical? The obvious answer is that, a true, Bible-believing Christian probably wouldn't, IF, that is, they knew the product they were selling was marketed in that way. Obviously, we are not calling into question anyone's salvation here. Our purpose in writing this article is to give warnings to our brothers and sisters about the unbiblical concepts YL oils are marketed with, and a warning for other believers who may be innocent in this area, and do not have an understanding of what New Age/New Thought concepts are, and how they present themselves. The fact is, demonic deceptions (which New Age/New Thought beliefs are) don't announce themselves boldly or waltz in waving a flag, or wearing a label. They are subtle. Hence the warning to our brothers and sisters.

In the first section, we demonstrated the unbiblical concepts with which Young Living oils are marketed. One of our most pressing concerns about essential oils in general, and Young Living essential oils in particular, is when Christians choose to join with, promote and sell products in partnership with companies that are undergirded with New Age/New Thought beliefs (i.e., being "unequally yoked"). We would therefore strongly urge all Christians to think long and hard before yoking with a company that markets its products with promises of spiritual benefit that should only be ascribed to our Lord.

With this in mind, we've heard the counter-argument to this position that goes something like this: 
I am not going to Young Living for my theology, only for essential oils. I don't go to them for theology. How is this not a Romans 14 issue? Or a meat sacrificed to idols issue? Also, I spend money at Target, Amazon, Starbucks, and all these companies support evil and give their money to things like Planned Parenthood and Gay Pride rallies. But my disagreement with the spiritual views of the CEOs of Target, Amazon and Starbucks doesn't stop me from purchasing from them, so why does it matter what the spiritual views of the owner of Young Living are?
Our response to this counter-argument is this: Young Living markets its oils with spiritual concepts (theology), that's the problem. So you're getting theology from them, whether you want it from them or not. Buying gardening tools or books or coffee from secular, gay-affirming corporations like Target, Amazon and Starbucks is not at all the same as buying essential oils from Young Living, or even beyond that, partnering with them to sell products that promise specific spiritual benefits that come only from God. Gardening tools and books and coffee are neutral products, as oils are, and if it stopped there, we could all pack up and go home. But it doesn't stop there. The EOs at Young Living are marketed as providing spiritual benefits, spiritual benefits that should come ONLY from God, and those who partner with Young Living to sell the EOs are responsible for bringing these unbiblical spiritual views to their clients.

One more note: while Gary Young, the founder of Young Living, does occasionally use scripture and reference the Bible, this does not mean that he is a true believer. We should remember that Oprah and Joel Osteen and Kenneth Copeland and others use Scripture and claim to be Christian, but are far from it. Young's views on sin, sanctification and illness do NOT line up with the Biblical views of sin, sanctification and illness, and in fact, are far more in alignment with eastern and New Thought views. (For more on what New Thought is, please see the article - New Thought: A Warning To Christians)


We have made a number of posts about essential oils (and alternative treatments, in general) to our Sola Sisters Facebook page, and it has not escaped our notice that these threads have been among the friskiest of the posts we've made to date, in terms of Christians taking exception to some of our statements. Please understand that our intent in writing about this topic is not to incite our brothers or sisters, nor is it to cause division, nor is it to cause others to stumble. Our reasons for contending so earnestly on the topic of essential oils for the last few months now is that this kind of deception, I am convinced, is spiritual at the core. We need to remember that "Satan is a hungry lion, prowling the earth seeking whom he may devour," (1 Peter 5:8) and that his desire is to "steal, kill and destroy," (John 10:10). I don't think Satan is particularly finicky about the deceptions he chooses: if they work to deceive people and shorten their lives, well then, he's all for them and will continue to use them. Remember, Satan hates all human beings because we are made in the image of God.....that's why he wants to destroy us.

Spiritual deceptions are real, and they're not just the Word of Faith kind that are often more easily discerned. The mind not only can be easily deceived, once it is deceived, that deception can have a very, very strong hold on the deceived person. As noted above, I (Christine) literally spent thousands on bogus natural/alternatives "cures" while in the New Age, including aromatherapy, reiki, homeopathy, eating green/organic/sustainable, etc.  I had an entire lifestyle built around eating and living in a certain way. Looking back, of course, I can see why (as a New Ager) I bought into all that I did and lived that way, and I can see how strong the deception was. But now, I am seeing many, many, many Christians getting caught up in the same kind of beliefs and mindset that I had as a New Ager. It's almost surreal to see it happening. I'm not saying we should all just be gluttonous and foolish and not try to make wise decisions about our health and eating and lifestyle, but I am seeing the same sort of "lifestyle righteousness" that gripped me and so many of my New Age friends, and amongst believers, of all people. Believers, for whom this world is not a final resting place, and for whom this world is just a present age passing away.

We are commanded in Scripture to "take EVERY thought captive in obedience to Christ," and to "test ALL things" (my emphasis). So I hope that my sisters (and brothers) who enjoy essential oils aren't taking offense at my desire to "test all things".... chiefly, in holding up some of the unbiblical concepts and ideas conveyed through some of these essential oils websites.

In summary, we pray that our fellow Christians will be on alert for unbiblical concepts being introduced in the alternative treatment realm, specifically in the area of essential oils. Most alternative treatment products are unregulated, and some can even cause harm when used. We also think that it is important for Christians to do their due diligence and biblically think through all partnerships they enter into, being on alert for unbiblical concepts that they might unwittingly be a partner to transmitting to others.
"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Cor 10:3-5)
 "Examine all things; hold fast to what is good. Stay away from every form of evil." (1 Thess 5:21-22)

 Additional Resources 

Essential Oils Revisited (Sola Sisters)

Aromatherapy: Biblical Path to Healing or Demonic Deception? (Chuck and Julie Cohen)

A Critique of David Stewart's Healing Oils of the Bible (Marcia Montenegro)

The FDA Warns Young Living, doTERRA Essential Oils Companies To Stop Making Unsubstantiated Claims That The Oils Can Treat Cancer, Protect Against Ebola (Food and Drug Administration, 9-22-2014)

How To Use Essential Oils: A Step-By-Step Guide (satire, warning: some mild language)

A Warning for Christians About New Thought (Marcia Montenegro)

Natural = Better? (Sola Sisters)

Alternative Medicine: A Mind Blowing Magical Mystery Tour  (Free, online e-book exposing the unsubstantiated claims [both currently and historically] made about many "natural" remedies)

Wellness: The New Age Trojan Horse In Healthcare (Sola Sisters/Marcia Montenegro)

Update: Ingrid Schlueter Interviews Marcia Montenegro and Christine Pack (Crosstalk at VCY America 4/26/11) to Discuss The Wellness Article - you may listen here

Are We All Syncretists Now? A Conversation About Evangelical Christianity and Alternative Medicine with Historian Candy Gunther Brown (Dr. Al Mohler) (Please note that there is an MP3 download as well as a transcript available of this interview)

True Spirituality, Health and Science: Where Do We Draw The Lines? (Marcia Montenegro)

Hospitals: A New Dark Age? (CANA)

No Scientific Evidence For "Chi" or "Qi"
 (NYU Langone Medical Center)

 Warnings About Alternative Treatments 

Alternative Medicine: A Mind Blowing Magical Mystery Tour  (Online e-book exposing the unsubstantiated claims [both currently and historically] made about many "natural" remedies.....I highly recommend this eye-opening, FREE ebook)

The Unregulated Nature of the Alternative Treatment Industry: Does the Label On The Outside Tell The Truth About What's Inside? (Sola Sisters)

The Truth About Nutritional Supplements (Fitness Magazine, 10-01-2009)

Safety and Regulation of Dietary Supplements (NPR radio interview, 7-16-2014)

Dietary And Herbal Supplements Could Interfere With Prescription Drugs (Medical News Today)

Herbal Supplements May Not Mix With Heart Medicines (Mayo Clinic)

5 Risky Herbal Supplements: Even Though They're Natural, Some Herbal Supplements Can Be Dangerous (Web MD)

Warning: Herbal Supplements Don't Always Go Well With Heart Drugs (U.S. News and World Report)

 The Value and Importance of Scientific Studies 

The Biblical Worldview Is The Foundation of Modern Science

The Scientific Method and Why It Matters

 Warnings About Homeopathy 

 Warnings About Essential Oil Toxicity 

Essential Oil Safety: Documented Side Effects, Injuries, and Deaths from Essential Oil Ingestion (Hub Pages)

Eucalyptus Oil and Essential Oils Poisoning (The Royal Children's Hospital - Melbourne, AU)

Can Aromatherapy Oils Poison You? How Tiny Particles 'May Damage Liver and Kidneys' (Daily Mail, UK)

Hidden Dangers of Essential Oils: The Frightening Truth About Natural Remedies Such as Olbas Oil Which Can Cause Heart Problems, Convulsions and Eye Ulcers (Daily Mail, UK)

Danger for Cats: Essential Oils (Articulate Animals Blog)

Warning About Peppermint Oil Overdose (New York Times)

Shannon: Haddad and Winchester's Clinical Management of Poisoning and Drug Overdose, 4th ed.

Toxic Effects of Essential Oils - Addresses Oils Taken Orally and Externally (The Research Pedia)

 Sola Sisters Facebook Wall Threads - Essential Oils 

Sola Sisters Facebook wall - February 23, 2014
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - April 24, 2014
Sola Sisters Facebook wall -April 26, 2014
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - June 28, 2014 (general warning about essential oils) 
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - June 30, 2014 (critique of essential oils/YL by Chuck and Julie Cohen)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - July 11, 2014 (should Christians partner with companies who market their products with unbiblical spiritual concepts?)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - July 28, 2014 (discussion re: Sola Sisters' concerns about YL/alternative)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Sep 26, 2014 (FDA writes a warning letter to Young Living, doTerra essential oils companies)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Sep 27, 2014 (essential oils not so "natural")
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Sep 28, 2014 (documented cases, and warnings about essential oil toxicity)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Sep 28, 2014 (discussion re: claims by essential oils distributors that essential oils cannot cause allergies)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Sep 28, 2014 (discussion re: the dangers of essential oil ingestion)
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Sep 29, 2014 (challenging claims by essential oils distributors that adverse reactions are simply the body "detoxifying")
Sola Sisters Facebook wall - Jan 2, 2015 (warning about essential oil induced seizures in children)

 John Ankerberg Resources and Articles 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Recommended Resource: Christian Answers For The New Age (CANA), the Teaching Ministry of Marcia Montenegro

Posted by Christine Pack

Please prayerfully consider contributing to the ministry of Marcia Montenegro, a full time missionary with Fellowship International Mission (FIM). Fellowship International Mission is an independent mission board located in Allentown, PA.

Before being saved, Marcia was a professional astrologer in the Atlanta area. Since becoming a Christian, Marcia has completed a Masters degree in Religion from Southern Evangelical Seminary (Charlotte, NC). She has also written and contributed to a number of scholarly resources, including Rose Publishing, a wonderful resource that many homeschooling families use. Marcia is the author of the book Spellbound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today's Kids, and is also the creator of the website Christian Answers For the New Age (CANA), a website which contains a wealth of well-researched articles. From the CANA website:
"Before becoming an astrologer, Marcia was involved with various New Age, occult, and Eastern beliefs and practices, including Inner Light Consciousness, Tibetan Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, Hindu teachings and meditation, and psychic development classes. During these years, she also participated in past life regression, numerology, Tarot cards, spirit contact, seances, astral travel, and received a spirit guide through a guided visualization."
Marcia is today a highly sought after radio guest on the New Age, New Thought, the occult and many other topics. You can listen to many of her past radio shows here.  Marcia's written testimony can be read here.

If you would like to donate to Marcia's ministry, you may do so here. One time gifts or monthly giving in any amount would be deeply appreciated.

Monday, June 10, 2013

✭✭ Apprising Ministries ✭✭

Posted by Christine Pack

I'm writing a brief post to ask my brothers and sisters in Christ to please consider donating to the ministry of Ken Silva at Apprising Ministries. Because of severe, ongoing health issues, Ken has been unable to write or work for the past 6 months. Whether or not you agree with his style of writing, Ken has always been very buttoned up in the accuracy of his research and has been a tremendous blessing to the body of Christ and to those wishing to grow in discernment. This recent article posted at Apprising gives more details about the current state of Ken's medical and financial situation.

On a personal note, Ken's Apprising site was one of the very first websites I ever found when God began opening my eyes to the problems in the church today. I am blessed to know him as a friend and brother in Christ. Any donations would be greatly appreciated.

photo credit: Mindful One via photopin cc

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Just Eat The Good Food?

Posted by Christine Pack

Knowing that there is false teaching but not being willing to name names is like knowing there is a chef in town who is putting arsenic in his food, and people are dying from it, and your friends are going out for date night. And you say, oh hey, there's a chef in town who's poisoning the food, so whatever you do, don't eat the poisonous food. Only eat the good food! You know what good food is, right? So just eat that. No, I don't think I should tell you his name because that would be unloving. But I know you know what good food is, so just eat the good food. Okay, bye! Have fun!

Except that....the consequences of getting the gospel wrong (or not protecting others from the false teaching out there in opposition to the gospel) are a lot more dire than someone just dying. The consequences are eternal. So let's be exhorted to do the loving thing and gently and lovingly and with all humility name names when we need too, and examine all teachings in light of Scripture.

Monday, May 28, 2012

An Open Letter To Tim Challies

Dear Mr. Challies,

As you may or may not know, we recently posted an article in which we commended your book review of Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. And then today, a reader forwarded your most recent post, entitled In Which I Ask Ann Voskamp's Forgiveness..., an article in which you wrote that after Ann Voskamp emailed you, inviting you to lunch, you felt a twinge of remorse over some of the wording of your original article, especially in light of the fact that you might soon find yourself face to face with her, sharing a meal.

In light of your recent post, then, please allow me to introduce myself to you. My name is Cathy Mathews, and I'm one of the writers of the Sola Sisters blog. I live in Arkansas (not on a farm, however), and I was hoping that perhaps you might come to Arkansas and have dinner with me and my family? And hopefully, you would see that I am also just as real as Mrs. Voskamp. And just as real was the bondage that I was under after reading Christian Panentheist Mystics about 25 years ago. Why is this relevant? Because Ann Voskamp appears to have been profoundly influenced by Christian Panentheistic Mystics, if the recommended reading list from her blog is anything to go by, and is also herself introducing Christian women to this concept of Panentheism in her book One Thousand Gifts, albeit a highly poetic, eroticized, "Christianized" version of Panentheism:
The Christian’s Secret of A Happy Life (by Hannah Whitall Smith)
Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home and Celebration of Discipline (by mystic Richard J. Foster)
The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime–A Manual for Prayer and The Divine Hours, Volume II: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime (by emergent leader and mystic Phyllis Tickle)
Spiritual Disciplines Handbook (by "female pastor" and mystic Adele Ahlberg Calhoun)
Ann Voskamp,
author One Thousand Gifts
For those who aren't familiar with what Panentheism is, Panentheism is a worldview that embraces the view that God is "in" everything: in humans, in whales, in giraffes, in sand, in the ocean, the wind, the mountains, the stars, and on and on. In this worldview, God is reduced to being an essence, an energy, a vibration, that permeates and gives life and energy to all things. Panentheism is part of the eastern worldview (Hinduism, Buddhism, etc.) and is NOT part of the biblical worldview. The Christian worldview is that we are "dead in our trespasses" (Eph 2:5), while the eastern worldview is that we all have a "Divine inner spark," and at least some aspect of God/Divinity inside of us, regardless of our faith (Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, etc.).

Of course, Mystical Christian Panentheism (of the variety found in One Thousand Gifts) is its own sort of subcategory under Panentheism in which Christian terminology is used, although - and here's the rub - the terms have been redefined, thus nullifying the doctrine that, in the orthodox tradition, weights each of those terms with meaning.

But back to my own story and how, in my own life, I became ensnared in Mystical Christian Panentheism. Twenty-five years ago, I was not a believer. I had rejected Christianity after having grown up in a liberal mainline denomination. Ironically, I rejected what I thought was Christianity because it gave me no answers on how to deal with the horrific sin in my life. (As I'm sure you are aware, the mainline denominations gave up Sola Scriptura and preaching the real Gospel for man-centered pragmatism and a social gospel about a hundred years ago.) So I turned to New Age teachings in order to find an answer for my sins. The funny thing is, I would only read the books that talked about Jesus and God and the Bible. I didn't want to stray too far from my "Christian" roots, you see, I didn't want to completely reject God. And believe me, there was plenty of what I was looking for amongst New Age teaching. I was lured into a Panentheistic worldview through beautiful esoteric writing bathed in Christian terminology (what I have now termed Mystical Christian Panentheism). Is that Ann Voskamp's intention? I have no idea. All I know is that this particular type of teaching is dangerous.

After being ensnared for several years, and falling more and more deeply into despair, something miraculous happened: God reached down and mercifully saved me. But can you imagine my early years as a Christian in the current professing church? The emergent church was in full bloom, with its mystical panentheistic leanings, as was the "bridal paradigm" teaching, which basically teaches people to lust after Jesus in an emotional, sensual way. And to top it off, if you questioned any of this stuff, you were called uncharitable and Pharisaical. I won't go into my very real slide into despair over the fact that most of the professing Evangelical church today teaches against biblical discernment, either out of ignorance of Sola Scriptura or out of a lust for "unity" (though it is a false unity, and not a unity of the Ephesians 4 variety, which is soundly rooted in doctrine), but let's just say it's a big part of the reason why we started this blog. Can I sit by and say nothing while the same Mystical Christian Panentheism that once ensnared me now threatens to engulf the church (and many unsuspecting Christians)? No!

Oh, how I have compassion for all of the other real women out there who have not been shepherded well, and thus discern teachings and books based only on the emotional pull, poetic writing, and likability of the teacher. I also have compassion for women who think the greatest sin is to say that a teaching is wrong because it does not line up with Scripture, but who have no fear of the Lord, nor reverence for his Word, and honestly do not think that believing a falsehood about God is a sin. This is the very type of woman who will, in all likelihood, embrace Ann Voskamp's book. And I would say all of that to Ann Voskamp herself, given the opportunity, though certainly in a respectful and gentle way. I guess I'm asking you to be as mindful of the just as real, though nameless, women out there who are primed to accept this version of "Christianity" because of its sensual appeal. It is these same women who will read this and will label me a hater because they will see this article as some kind of personal attack against Mrs. Voskamp, when it is nothing of the sort, but only a warning borne out of my own personal experience with mysticism.

With kindest regards (and hoping to put out an extra place setting for you soon),

Cathy Mathews

 Additional Resources 

Tim Challies Reviews One Thousand Gifts (Tim Challies)

In Which I Ask Ann Voskamp's Forgiveness... (Tim Challies)

Ann Voskamp: Mystical Estrogen
 (Chris Rosebrough, Fighting For The Faith radio show)

Concerning One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (by Ken Silva)

A Commentary On Ann Voskamp's "One Thousand Gifts" (by Marcia Montenegro)

Romantic Panentheism, a review of One Thousand Gifts (by Bob DeWaay)

Panentheism! What Is It? (Apprising)

Panentheism Is Not A Gift (Amy Spreeman)