Monday, January 17, 2011

"Adventures in Missions?" Or Adventures in Pagan Spirituality?

Ingrid Schlueter of the VCY America Crosstalk radio program recently published an article that raises troubling questions concerning a missions group headquartered in Gainesville, GA. The missions organization in question is called Adventures in Missions (AIM)/World Race, and they appear to have some very disturbing teachings. One of these teachings is found in the Parents’ Guide that writes that the youth who choose to participate with AIM “must leave the guidance of family” and “belief systems defined by others” behind them when they choose to partner with AIM for missions work. But is this even biblical?  After all, Godly parents are described in the Bible as a blessing.

Also, participants of AIM/World Race must practice something calling the discipline of "listening prayer," a kind of "prayer" that rejects Sola Scriptura, which is the Reformation principle that God speaks to us through Scripture alone.  Instead, "listening prayer" rejects the authority of Scripture in favor of a more subjective, experiential kind of prayer in which the participant "listens"to God and journals what he or she thinks God is personally speaking to them.  This kind of prayer is a rejection, as I noted, of the Reformation principle of Sola Scriptura, and is also a rejection of God's clear teaching on how we "hear" from God:
"In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe." Hebrews 1:1-2
What is one way that Jesus is described in the Bible?  He is called "the Word:"
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." John 1:1
Do you want to "hear" from God?  The Bible teaches that the way we "hear" from God is through the study of Jesus himself.....that is, by studying the Word.

 Panentheistic Worldview vs. Christian Worldview 

On this page, Adventures in Missions President and founder Seth Barnes directs his readers how to find "Spiritual Direction."  At the end of the article, he encourages his readers to link to a site called "Celtic Spirituality" to learn more about the art of finding spiritual direction.  In one article found at Celtic Spirituality, entitled "Shape Shifting Meditation," the participant is given the following meditation to do:
"Close your eyes, and send your consciousness down through the room, down through the floor of the building, and down, deep down, into the earth. Be aware of the mass of rock that lies beneath the soil -- shale, quartz, sandstone, granite; the black, white, and red -- shot through with bands of minerals, darkly glittering; crystals that shine like stars within the stones ... Let your consciousness become one with the mineral kingdom. You might choose to become a mountain as old as the planet itself, once part of the seabed, thrown up by unspeakable forces now stilled, enormously, timelessly rooted in the earth, its head in the stars ... or a minute grain of sand, one among trillions and trillions, endlessly shifting, sifting, with the ocean tides ... or become a stone ... the stone people are alive, it's just that their hearts beat slower than ours..."
That this kind of teaching is recommended reading by an organization that purports to be Christian is truly disturbing.  This teaching is identical to the panentheistic meditations I did while I was a New Ager.  (Panentheism is the belief that there is a "divine energy" connecting all of life together, and that we all possess a "divine inner spark.")  Even more disturbing is the idea that AIM sees no distinction between their panentheistic, God-in-everything view and the pagan God-in-everything view found in the countries, presumably, where AIM is trying to reach people with the good news of the gospel.  One has to wonder, then, what AIM's "gospel message" is.  For instance:
Do they explain that all men are born wretched and depraved? (no "divine inner spark")
Do they teach about the pre-eminent holiness of God?
Do they tell of the exclusive nature of Christ? 
Do they explain that without Christ's atoning death, there is no union with God?
For more information, Ingrid Schlueter at Crosstalk Blog has just posted an excellent article on AIM which can be read in its entirety here.

 Additional Resources 

Missions, Mysticism and Magic: A Closer Look at the Missionary Organization Adventures in Missions  (by Claris Van Kuiken)

Personal Words From God? by Bob DeWaay (part 1)

Personal Words From God? by Bob DeWaay (part 2)