Thursday, September 16, 2010

Posted by Christine Pack

Thank you to Linda Harvey of Mission America for recently having me on her radio program.  I briefly gave my testimony and told why we write the Sola Sisters blog. We also discussed spiritual disciplines, and how these Christian sounding practices are not Christian....and are covertly bringing Roman Catholic monastic mysticism and eastern meditation practices into churches today.

 Additional Resources 

Mission America

The Dangers of Spiritual Formation and Spiritual Disciplines

Unbiblical Teachings on Prayer, Mysticism and "Experiencing God"

The False Claims and Practices of "Christian Mystics"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Redeemer Elder Proves He Is Not Equipped to Fulfill Role of Elder

Tim Keller's Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City continues its surprising slide into mysticism with a new quote from one its elders.  We've previously documented several instances of new age mantra meditation practices being promoted or even taught at Redeemer, including a recent class offering called "The Way of the Monk," which taught attendees how to practice Roman Catholic monastic mysticism.  When questioned about these practices, one elder responded:
"We at Redeemer are focused entirely as a church on our audience in the Center City. Our conviction is that this audience can discern among the incredible variety of sources for their spirituality and reason what is good and what is not. We believe we can draw on and refer to sources that may be outside of the core beliefs of orthodox Christianity historically and our audience can benefit from it without getting sucked into any heretical parts of that source. We believe this for the non-Christians that attend, who are completely contending within the world with all of the diverse input they might be getting, as well as for the believers." (Elder at Redeemer Presbyterian, NYC)
In making this statement, this elder at Redeemer has abdicated his right to serve as an elder.
"An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it." (Titus 1:6-9, my emphasis)
We need our elders to guard the flocks entrusted to them, "holding firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught."  This means that elders must not allow sound teachings mixed with error to be brought into their churches, but should "refute those who oppose" sound doctrine.

Also, contrast this elder's statement to the life of the Apostle Paul, who basically spent his entire ministry calling out and refuting false teaching:
- Gnosticism (Ephesians)
- Secular philosophy, eastern mysticism & strict ascetism (Colossians)
- Jewish legalism (Galatians)
- Fanaticism (Thessalonians)
- Those denying the resurrection of Jesus (Corinthians)
What we need today are sober-minded, Godly men who take seriously their charge before God to guard their flocks, to bar the door, if need be, and say, "You will not bring false teaching into this church!" Where are such men?

 Additional Resources 

The Need for Elders Who Guard Their Flocks

Does Tim Keller Endorse New Age Teachers?

"The Way of the Monk" at Redeemer

Testimony of a Former Roman Catholic Priest

 Additional Resources 

Far From Rome, Near to God

The Berean Beacon 

A Chart With Christian/Catholic Views Side-By-Side (courtesy of former Roman Catholic priest Richard Bennett)

Why Is Rick Warren Quoting Universalist Henri Nouwen?

"For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough." (2 Cor 11:4)
Roman Catholic priest Henri Nouwen, who was deeply influenced by mystic Thomas Merton, taught what the Bible warns us about: "another Jesus."  This false "Jesus" that Nouwen taught was a Jesus of universal reconciliation.  But for some reason, Nouwen has become the darling of the Emergent Church movement as well as many in the Evangelical camp.  Who were these men (Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton), in their own words?
"Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God's house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God." (Sabbatical Journey, Henri Nouwen's last book, my emphasis) 
"The God who dwells in our inner sanctuary is the same as the one who dwells in the inner sanctuary of each human being." (Here and Now, by Henri Nouwen)
 "I am going to become the best Buddhist I can." (Thomas Merton, Hiroshima Day Speech)
Henri Nouwen's teaching became part of something called the "Wider Mercy Doctrine" that has become very widely accepted in the world today, especially among missionaries.  The Wider Mercy Doctrine is a teaching that has been the cornerstone of Universalist belief for centuries.  It teaches that people can be saved whether or not they know about Jesus.  But this is in direct contradiction to Scripture which clearly teaches an exclusive, narrow gospel:
"Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
So why is Saddleback pastor Rick Warren quoting Henri Nouwen and pointing the sheep of his flock toward an apostate Universalist?

 Additional Resources 

Testimony of a Former Roman Catholic Priest

Roman Catholic Mysticism and the Emergent Church Movement

How Not to Speak of Christ and His Work

Henri Nouwen and Buddhism

Rick Warren Wants Us To Learn From Henri Nouwen

The Wider Mercy Doctrine

The Need for Elders Who Guard Their Flock

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