Saturday, September 11, 2010

Mystics or Christians....But Not Both

“We may be mystics, or we may be Christians. We cannot be both. And the pretension of being both usually merely veils defection from Christianity. Mysticism baptized with the name of Christianity is not thereby made Christianity. A rose by any other name will smell as sweet. But it does not follow that whatever we choose to call a rose will possess the rose’s fragrance.”  - Benjamin B. Warfield (Read entire paper here)

 Additional Resources 

Roman Catholic Monastic Mysticism

Mysticism: A Counterfeit Holy Spirit

Fighting For The Faith Interview on Mysticism

Mysticism: Spiritual Crack

Roman Catholic Mysticism and the Emergent Church Movement

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm Sorry, Glenn....It's Over.

Posted by Christine Pack

Dear Glenn,

This is a hard letter to write, because we've had some good times.  But I'm sorry, it's over between us.  And please believe me when I tell you this: it's not me, it's you.  You see, I haven't changed.  I'm still the same conservative gal, the one who sat around hoping that somehow, some way, this country would be set right again.  And along you came, with a little sparkle in your eye, so full of national pride, so distraught and earnest over what was happening to our country right under our noses.  Hegelian dialectic! Cloward-Piven! Fabian socialiasm! The third way!  And suddenly, I wasn't the only one running up the hill, vainly shouting these things into the were right there with me.  We were having such a good time.  I was telling everybody about you!

And okay, sure, I knew you were a Mormon.  But maybe, I said to myself, he's really a Christian.  Maybe he's one of those "cultural Mormons," a Mormon in name only, who doesn't even know about all that kooky Mormon theology.  After all, he talks about God and Jesus and salvation and atonement....  Looking back, I'm so ashamed of myself:  I should have known better!  After all, a large part of what I do is write about cults, and how they use the same terminology that Christians do, only with redefined meanings.  Oh, how I wanted to believe.

"Bat Creek Stone"
But then, you changed.  It all started with the rock. You know what I'm talking about, Glenn.  It's no use getting all wide-eyed and coy with me, I'm onto you now. You brought out that rock, and exclaimed over its "Hebrew" inscription.  At the time I didn't know what you were talking about, but after a little digging, I discovered that this rock, known as the Bat Creek Stone, is believed by Mormons to be evidence of ties between ancient Israel and Native American Indians. And I discovered that the Mormon Bible teaches that America will become God's latter-day base of operations for His restored church. (3 Neph 21:4) With these findings, your zealous patriotism was taking on new meaning for me.

Suddenly, we had taken a strange turn.  I didn't want to be proselytized by someone who believed in Planet Kolob and spirit babies; I wanted the old Glenn back, the one with the blackboard, running back and forth between Cass Sunstein and Jim Wallis and Barack Obama, sweating and red-faced. You began to talk more about faith, and suddenly I could no longer pretend we were on the same page.  "Get back to God," you earnestly spoke into the camera. "Whatever that means for you, go back to your church, your synagogue, your mosque, your whatever."

Excuse me, but....."Whatever that means for you?" As in, however you want to approach God is fine by me, just so long as you have a tidy little moral code that keeps you out of trouble?  I couldn't believe it.  I was crushed! No longer could I pretend that you were somehow secretly a Christian who hadn't yet mustered up the courage to leave his cult.

And then came the 8/28 rally.  By that time, I couldn't even watch.  My heart was already broken.

And then it began to dawn on me: I think I've been played.  Not by you, Glenn.  But by the Progressive Left Wingers.  You see, all along, as your tide was rising, we Tea Partiers and conservatives were cackling about 2012, about "just wait!" and "oh boy, we'll show them!"  But the Progressives weren't concerned in the least.  Why was that?  Could it be that, on the rising swell of your popularity, they were envisioning the possibility of a Mitt Romney run.....and instead of being concerned, they already had it mapped out? Instead of quaking with fear over the handsome, articulate, former governor of Massachusetts, they were ready and waiting with a loooong list of questions about temple garmentsBrother Lucifer, and baptism for the dead?   Maybe that's why they weren't worried about you or a possible Mitt Romney run....they were secretly rubbing their hands together with glee at the thought of "temple garments" being shown over and over again on CNN.

Oh dear, it's all starting to become clear to me.  The truth is, we don't believe the same things. Your Mormon "gospel" of moralism and good works and America-as-the-promised-land is the kind of false gospel that the Bible warns about.  And now I'm officially freaked out.  Of course, I'm still conservative and want what's best for the country, but the bottom line for me is God....not country.  Don't get me wrong. I love my country, and I'm heartbroken to see it sliding into socialism, but I'm sorry: God trumps country.

So Glenn, this is it, it's over.  Now, instead of pleading with my friends to tune in, I'm begging everyone to wake up and realize that, as nice and earnest as you are, you are not a Christian. And to pray for you. But I want you to know that I still wish you the best, even though you scare me now.  It's not me, Glenn.  It's you.

Sola Sisters

photo credit: david_shankbone via photo pin cc
photo credit: More Good Foundation via photopin cc

Tim Keller's Redeemer Presbyterian Teaching Mysticism

by Christine Pack & Dwayna Litz (

A class being taught at Time Keller's Redeemer Presbyterian Church uses a book by "Christian mystic" Jan Johnson, who has taught and written extensively on a practice known as "contemplative prayer."  Unfortunately, while contemplative prayer is a practice that sounds Christian, it has its roots in pagan, occultic practices. Johnson writes:
“Contemplative prayer, in its simplest form, is a prayer in which you still your thoughts and emotions and focus on God Himself. This puts you in a better state to be aware of God's presence, and it makes you better able to hear God's voice, correcting, guiding, and directing you.” (Jan Johnson, When the Soul Listens 1999, pg. 16)
Johnson's explanation of the initial stages of contemplative prayer leaves no doubt that "stilling" your thoughts means only one thing; she explains:
“In the beginning, it is usual to feel nothing but a cloud of unknowing.... If you're a person who has relied on yourself a great deal to know what's going on, this unknowing will be unnerving.” (Ibid., pg. 120)
This term "cloud of unknowing" comes from the writings of an unknown 14th-century monk, who wrote about contemplative meditation as a “teachable, spiritual process enabling the ordinary person to enter and receive a direct experience of union with God.” (

The premise of the "cloud of unknowing" is that in order to really know God, mysticism must be practiced, and the mind has to be "shut down" or "turned off" so that the cloud of unknowing, where the presence of God awaits, can be experienced.  But "shutting down the mind" is an occultic practice, and is therefore off-limits for Christians:
“When you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire [an ancient occult practice], or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination [detestable] to the LORD…" (-Deuteronomy 18:9-12a)
So why then, is the occultic practice of contemplative prayer (also known as centering prayer, Lectio Divina, etc.) literally flooding into today's churches? My guess is that many Christians are simply naive about what exactly occultic mysticism is.  Perhaps they think it comes with a warning label or that spooky music will start playing if somebody starts unwittingly doing a mystical practice.  Whatever the case, mysticism can masquerade by many different names and is found in most faith traditions outside of Christianity: the Native American Indians have their shamanism, the Muslems have sufism, the Jews have Kabbalah, the Roman Catholics have monastic disciplines, the Hindus/Buddhists have yoga and meditation, etc.  What unifies all these different cultural practices is that they all serve one purpose: to corrall the active, thinking mind so that a mystical state can be entered into through an altered state of consciousness.  And, rather than feeling dangerous or scary, mysticism often gives a person a pleasant experience, sometimes even a profoundly spiritual experience.  Unfortunately, the "spirit" connected to in spiritual mystical experiences is not God, as these practices are expressly forbidden by God.

But, most Christians today have virtually no knowledge of New Age/eastern meditation techniques, and so when these practices come into the church with "Christian" names and are taught by their leaders, they don't always immediately recognize that what they are being taught is occultic.  The really scary part is that Christians can unknowingly enter into a mystical state if they do the practices as taught, because unfortunately, ignorance does not afford one protection in the spiritual realm.  You can read here the harrowing testimony of a Christian woman who unknowingly practiced "Christian mysticism" and tells how it took her further away from God, rather than closer.

Christians, please beware of any practice or technique that is done for the purpose of emptying the mind or entering into an altered state of consciousness.  This is not biblical, and is can be found nowhere in Scripture:  In fact, just the opposite:
"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." (Matthew 6:7)
Does this not eerily sound like a description of the mantra meditation used in many faith traditions for the purpose of corralling the mind?  Please, brothers and sisters, hold fast to truth and test all things against Scripture.  We are living in perilous times, and sadly, ignorance is no protection against the wiles of Satan.

 Additional Resources 

Christian Woman Unwittingly Enters a Mystical State

Redeemer Presbyterian Class Schedule

"The Way of the Monk" at Redeemer Presbyterian

Learn to Embrace Your "Inner Monk" at Pastor Tim Keller's Redeemer Presbyterian Church?

Posted by Christine Pack


 Additional Resources 

"The Way of the Monk" at Tim Keller's Redeemer Presbyterian Church

Does Tim Keller Endorse New Age Teachers?

Ron Choong’s Ties to Tim Keller and His Heretical Teachings (City of Deception, Jonathan Cousar)

Tim Keller and Social Justice (Sola Sisters)

Tim Keller Recommending Roman Catholic Mysticism (Sola Sisters)

Redeemer's Tim Keller Recommends Ignatius of Loyola? (Sola Sisters)

Tim Keller and the Problems with Ignatius of Loyola (Sola Sisters)
Tim Keller

What Is Mysticism? (Sola Sisters)

Mysticism: Spiritual Crack (Sola Sisters)

Catholic Mysticism Infused Into Our Society (Berean Beacon)

Why the Reformation Was Important (Sola Sisters)

After The Darkness, Light (Post Tenebras Lux) (Sola Sisters)

Biblically Explaining The Heresy of Catholicism (Dr. John MacArthur)

A Chart With Christian/Catholic Views Side-By-Side (Berean Beacon)

Testimony of a Former Roman Catholic Priest....From Darkness to Light (Berean Beacon)

Far From Rome Near To God (Amazon)

On The "Faith" of Mother Teresa: John Ortberg Strikes Out (Sola Sisters)

The Myth of Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa A Lost Soul (Berean Beacon)

Mother Teresa in Her Own Words (Sola Sisters)

CNN Reports That Mother Teresa Underwent Exorcism (CNN Archives)

BBC Reports About Exorcism Performed on Mother Teresa (BBC Archives)

Lectio Divina at Tim Keller's Redeemer Presbyterian Church - material adapted from the book Sacred Companions by David Benner. (From David Benner's bio: "I first heard of spiritual direction through reading Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, and this quickly led me to an engagement with the Orthodox tradition of the Christian faith. It was here that I encountered the Jesus prayer – a gift from the Russian Orthodox Church – something that was to change the way I opened myself to God in prayer for ever. Here I also encountered the gift of using icons as an aid to prayer. This led me back to the Christian mystics I had long been attracted to but not ready to really engage, and to the discovery of the Benedictine and Cistercian traditions of centering prayer and lectio divina..... I discovered the Sufi mystical poets, Hafiz and Rumi, people who have been intimate spiritual companions since that first meeting. Within a few years, my wife and I were blessed to be invited to spend several extended periods of dialogue with Buddhists and Taoists at the Tao Fong Shan Centre for Christian Spirituality and Interfaith Dialogue in Hong Kong. Once I tasted the richness of meeting people of other faiths in this sort of sacred place there was no turning back. I quickly discovered that I had more in common with those on a spiritual journey within other religious traditions than I had with Christians who had allowed faith to be reduced to beliefs and counted the holding of these beliefs to be their journey. It remains so to this day.")

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Does Tim Keller Endorse New Age Teachers?

by Dwayna Litz (

We are praying for the truth to be known and for the vacillation to come to an end. I posted something recently about Tim Keller's endorsement of a New Age book. His team at Redeemer Pres. NYC denied it. Well, someone is not telling the truth. We are certainly telling the truth, as an excerpt from this letter explains:

I know you are telling the truth when you say the church categorically denies any endorsement of new age teachings. That’s absolutely true. I know they deny it. Which is what makes all of this so baffling and frustrating. They deny it on one hand and endorse it on the other. The endorsements however are rather subtle and done in the more secret corners of the church – e.g. on the website and in the extracurricular classes the church holds.
NEVER are these endorsements made in public meetings and NEVER does Tim Keller endorse these things from the pulpit. In fact, Tim recently this summer mentioned new age meditation in a sermon. He rightly said that Christian meditation and new age meditation are not the same thing, and they’re not compatible. He correctly pointed out that new age meditation is all about emptying your mind and Christian meditation is about filling your mind with God’s Word.

Yet, on the Redeemer website, teachers who endorse this emptying-of-the-mind new age meditation are promoted. And in some previous classes the church has offered – this kind of meditation is taught.
I’ve had several email conversations with Tim about this over the last few months, and the bottom line is he simply disagrees with where the church should draw the line in its endorsements and in its teachings. He says it’s okay to endorse teachers with whom we may disagree, even on major doctrines, as long as the specific thing the church endorses from each teacher is orthodox.
So it is possible for them to categorically deny any endorsement of new age teachings while at the same time – for Dwayna and others to believe they have in fact endorsed new age teachings because they have endorsed teachers who do.
I’ll give just two quick examples which are representative of others.

For at least a couple of years the church sponsored a class led by Susan Castillo (a member and full-time staffer at Redeemer) called Way of the Monk. The class had such heavy new age overtones that many Redeemerites complained and they eventually cancelled the class.
The teacher, Susan Castillo was described as someone who has been going to monasteries for years to “honeymoon with Jesus”. And that’s what we were going to learn in the class – how to honeymoon with Jesus in the way ancient Catholic monks did. And one of the meditation “techniques” that was taught was the use of a “prayer rope”. The use of the rope was designed for those with fidgety minds to help them send all their thoughts through their shoulders and down their arms and into the rope – thus helping them “empty” their minds so they could “feel the presence” of God.

This even though Tim publicly states that new age meditation with its emphasis on emptying your mind – is not Christian. At the exact same moment Tim is stating that publicly, the church is conducting this class.
...I can't tell you how much I would love to believe their categorical denials, but in the face of the church’s actions, I can't.

In another example, on the Redeemer website, is an article written by a woman named Jan Johnson. She is also a proponent of this type of meditation, yet Tim has told me privately by email that the article she wrote on the site is fine and doesn't contain any doctrinal errors. I can agree with Tim on that. A valid argument could be made that the article on the Redeemer site is fine. (

At the bottom of that page under “About the Author” the church recommends her 1999 book called “Listening to God”. I recently purchased that book and was stunned to find that every chapter starts off with a new age, emptying-of-the-mind technique.

For instance Chapter (or Session as it’s called in the book) 5 starts off with this instruction for meditation:

Warming Up 5-10 Minutes: Center yourself by breathing in and out several times. Relax your neck and then take time to let your muscles go limp. Offer your distracting thoughts to God, one by one.

This is exactly what any good Yoga teacher or Buddhist monk would instruct their students to do in meditation. And I hope you see that it has no resemblance to any kind of Biblical meditation or prayer.
Session 4 starts off with this instruction:

Warming Up 5-10 Minutes: Close your eyes and sit in the quiet. Relax yourself by breathing in and out several times. Loosen up each muscle one by one as you let go of the things that distract you. When you’re ready, consider this quiet question to help you focus your thoughts for meditation. Let’s say that someone delights in you. what color does that bring to mind?”
Ignoring the theological question as to whether or not it’s a good idea for Christians to sit around imagining others delighting in us – rather than us delighting in God, this again is straight out of new age meditation where the goal is to put yourself into a light trance. The ultimate result if this is practiced consistently and often is to bring the believer into a feeling of “oneness” with everything and everyone. 

In fact, that’s the purpose behind the Way of the Monk (which you can read more about here: If you study this thoroughly you’ll eventually learn that the ultimate goal of these techniques is to lead people to a universalist view of salvation, where all religions are just different paths to the same end.
Jan Johnson is also a proponent of a meditation technique called the “cloud of unknowing” in which it is suggested that before we pray we should empty our mind of all thoughts – even thoughts of God himself! She does not however (to my knowledge) mention this in her book Listening to God. And Tim says since she doesn't mention it in that book – then it’s okay for the church to endorse that book, even though she talks about it in many of her more recent books.

Of course Redeemer vehemently denies sharing any of these beliefs. Yet they consistently continue to endorse people who do. So I’m left scratching my head and wondering why, if they really don't share these beliefs, do they have such a consistent track record of endorsing people who do?
In my email conversations with Tim this summer he simply draws a very strict line – believing that it’s okay to endorse and promote teachers who believe these things – as long as the church doesn't specifically endorse their errant teachings.

A Redeemer elder and friend told me that the church believes its members and attenders, saved and unsaved alike, are smart enough to discern the good from the bad. I believe this is a wildly risky way to lead the flock. If the church isn't actively teaching people what’s right and what’s wrong how are they supposed to know? And if the church is endorsing people who disagree with it on the most foundational doctrines (as do other people they endorse as well), how is the flock supposed to figure that out if the church doesn't tell them? No, most people once they know the church they trust endorses someone – will believe that that person and all that they teach is good.

And on a personal level I can tell you that many people at Redeemer are seriously confused on these issues. So many people I know there continue to believe there are many ways to God. Many people strongly believe there is nothing wrong with new age meditation despite Tim’s occasional mention of it. And it should be no surprise. Because in the background, the church is teaching classes in new age meditation (while insisting that it’s Christian meditation), and they’re endorsing authors, teachers and books that embrace new age meditation – while again at the same time, calling it Christian meditation.
If you look beyond what people say and look at the actual things that are being taught, you’ll sadly find no difference between what’s being taught and new age meditation.

See also:

"The Way of the Monk" at Tim Keller's Redeemer Presbyterian Church

"The Way of the Monk" Class Schedule at Redeemer Presbyterian

Another Reader Question: Isn't the Bible fallible, written by mortal men?

 Reader question: 
"You had quoted bible in your comment. Everybody knows bible was written after Christ's death, invariably by fallible, mortal men. Then how can you trust Bible? How can we be sure that everything written in bible has actually come from God? Many such religious texts have been written, before and after bible, some with much more philosophical wisdom than bible."

I would invite you to read two books that might help you understand the supernatural nature of the Bible:

(1) A Case For Faith - by Lee Strobel
(2) Evidence That Demands a Verdict - by Josh McDowell

These books are a good place to start if you really want to understand why Christians state emphatically, over and over, that the Bible is inerrant and written infallibly by God.  Ponder this: if in fact there is a God supernatural and powerful enough to create things as complex as zebras and eyeballs and ecosystems and blue whales, with that kind of power, couldn't this God have found a way to create a Book, using human agents inspired by his Holy Spirt, that revealed who He was and what He requires of us?  I would submit that He did, and a careful, comparative study between the Bible and the "holy writings" of other religious traditions reveals this.

As my friend Dwayna Litz ( writes on this topic:

"As for the reliability of the Bible, there is no other book (66 books, actually, but all with the same message) written over a span of 1500 years, by more than 40 different author  - from kings to fishermen - who have written about a "plan" for mankind which demeans man and offers a salvation not based on works or any merit of man. What man would make up such a thing to make himself so powerless with no capability of getting to heaven, or even a relationship with God, by means of any work of his own?

No other book has as many early manuscripts which match; consider the Dead Sea Scrolls. These recently discovered scrolls prove the Bible has stayed intact with the same message as in the earliest manuscripts.

Then, there is the resurrection of Jesus. Roman guards were assigned to his tomb, yet He still left it and appeared to over 500 witnesses. If those witnesses knew they were lying about such a story, why did they die martyrs' deaths for a lie? They would have been crazy.

Last, but not least, Jesus had to have been a lunatic and a liar if He was not God in the flesh. He could have never been "good" if He had claimed to be the only Savior by fraud.  Interestingly, He fulfilled over 300 prophecies from the Old Testament to the New Testament. No other "holy" book can compare, and no other so-called "god" can compare to the testimony and deity of Jesus.

But, the most profound reason of all that people don't believe in Jesus is because they have a love for their own sin and are in rebellion against a holy God. Man wants to remain autonomous, but he cannot. He can't escape his guilty conscience, no matter how he tries."

Let me close, dear Reader, by telling you that, despite this wretched condition in which mankind finds itself, today can be the day of salvation for you, if you will repent and place your faith in Jesus's sacrifice on your behalf.  But, if you do not, you will perish on the day of Judgment. You say that it's not fair for so many to hear this message and reject it.  Well, you yourself have now clearly heard the gospel message and the way of salvation.  What will you do with this knowledge? How will you respond?  I urge you to humble yourself and bend the knee before a high and holy God.  He is mighty to save.

"Hell" as an invention of the church?

by Marianne Hansen, guest writer

John Shelby Spong......he's just a plain wolfnot even hiding in sheep's clothing, and yet he has a flock. Woe, woe, woe.

See also:

Universalism: The Gospel Message of Emergent and New Age Spirituality