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Rending the Veil from the Bottom to the Top.

Posted by Tom Lessing on May 5, 2009

Matthew 27:51 And at once the curtain of the sanctuary of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; (Emphasis added)

What do you think the result would be if we were to do a survey asking people the question: “If you were able to bring about the most important and revolutionary event in the entire history of mankind, what would you do?” The majority would probably want to find a cure for AIDS or cancer, or usher in a Rent Veil lasting global peace. Some would probably want to eradicate poverty once and for all. Believe it nor not, these are not the the most important things the post modern and “emergent” thinkers are aiming to do, although they may say so. What they do have in mind is to seek “new” ways and means of entering into the presence of God. Since mankind’s Fall many have tried to take the kingdom of heaven by force (their own efforts), simply because they have rejected God’s way. Don’t be hoodwinked by their manifestos of “wanting to alleviate poverty,“associating with the poor by living amongst them,” “following in the footsteps of Jesus by exemplifying his example.” These are all stepping stones (own efforts and good works) to bring them into the presence of God.

In ancient times it was a very dangerous and a life threatening experience to approach a king without his permission. Even today, in some parts of Africa, you are not allowed to enter a village without the resident chief’s permission. The normal procedure is to first request the chief’s personal assistant to convey your wish to visit him. He would then inform you if and when you may meet with the chief. When an appropriate time is set the envoy meets you at the entrance of the village and accompanies you to the chief’s house in the centre of the village. Don’t even think to knock on his door. That’s bad manners. The envoy enters the chiefs house alone, informs him of your arrival and only then may you enter his home — provided that the chief does not decide to reverse his initial invitation and turn you away at the last moment. Frustrating . . . ? Very frustrating, but that’s the way you need to express your respect and appreciation for the chief as your superior in his village. Not only that; it also proves to the envoy and his chief that you are prepared to humble yourself in their presence. There is a similar narrative in the Old Testament. When Mordecai, queen Esther’s uncle disclosed Haman’s plot to destroy all the Jews, he begged her to approach her husband, king Ahasuerus, on his throne and to inform him of the murderous plot. She was at first reluctant because it was too dangerous for her to do so uninvited. Here’s how Esther answered her uncle.

Esther 4:11 “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that for any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has but one law, that he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live. And I have not been summoned to come to the king for these thirty days.” (Emphasis added)

The outcome of this event is well-known. When queen Esther approached the king he held out his golden sceptre as a gesture that she may come closer and she touched the top of his sceptre, acknowledging thereby his supreme authority over her as her king and her lord. Had she not done so a multitude of her brethren, the Jews, would have been murdered in a plot which had been orchestrated by Haman. If royal protocol in those days were adhered to so strictly how can we possibly expect the King of kings and the Lord of lords to accept manmade ways to approach Him in His most holy sanctuary in heaven? However, adherents to the Emerging Church are increasingly turning to manmade ways to usher themselves into the presence of God. Indeed, they are forcefully trying to rend the veil from the bottom to the top. In their endeavors to accomplish this the new breed of “Christian” ministers, pastors, apostles, disciples and teachers are demanding a complete change in the way we think about our spirituality, and particularly in the way we experience Christianity.

The prefix “re” has become one of the most potent lingo doohickeys in our postmodern society. Despite it’s two-lettered confines it has a vast potential to revolutionize your life. Words like “think,” “imagine,” “construct,” “define,” and “paint” (with due thanks to Rob Bell in his “Velvet Elvis”) have taken on a whole new meaning when the prefix “re” is added. By doing a quick google search of the words “rethink” and “rethinking” on the internet I was dumbfounded to see the following results:

  • Rethinking our world (1 300 000 results)
  • Rethinking leadership (2 020 000 results)
  • Rethinking the future (1 340 000 results)

The idea of rethinking our world, leadership and the future is not limited to the secular world but is also increasingly and aggressively advocated in the church. One of the leading proponents of the “possibility thinking” or “positive thinking” cult, Robert Schuller, hosted a “Rethink Conference” in his Crystal Cathedral last year. A conference was scheduled for this year but has been postponed to 2010. Many of the speakers at last year’s conference, amongst them, Erwin McManus, Kay Warren (wife of Rick Warren) and Dan Kimball are proponents of contemplative mysticism and meditation. Fifty e-church members in South Africa, including Stephan Joubert and Dries Lombaard attended the conference in 2008 to rub shoulders with these most distinguished thinkers who are bent on changing the face of Christianity for evermore. They have made a great impact on our younger South African church clergy who in  turn are influencing many young people and introducing them to contemplative mysticism. The e-church websites (Afrikaans and English), engineered by Stephan Joubert and Dries Lombaard respectively, are vigorously promoting the contemplative spirituality under the guise of “loving and following Jesus.” In fact, all the followers of Jesus are welcome to comment on their sites and to participate in a relational conversation provided that you are also an avid follower of their gurus, Rob Bell, Leonard Sweet, Nelus Niemandt, Erwin McManus, Doug Pagitt and many other contemplative Christian mystics. Those in agreement with Stephan Joubert and Rob Bell that truth may be found in other religions such as Buddhism, Judaism and even atheism are more than welcome on their websites but you will be summarily ostracized as soon as you sound a warning against their contemplative buddies.

In accordance with the “rethinking” culture of the contemplatives, I have decided to rethink, re-imagine, and reconstruct at least one passage from Scripture (Matthew 7: 22-23) to illustrate how they are trying to rend the veil from the bottom to the top.

Lord, Lord, look what we have done for you! We have done some real honest-to-good bundubashing by clearing away some trash and debris in the bushveld and built a beautiful labyrinth. We really do not know how our Afrikaans Reformed youth will react when we introduce them to our labyrinth but we are trying to make them genuine followers of you. Maybe this is something of what we are trying to do as followers of Jesus. To clean out the rubish [sic] in the world in order to create places where people can find peace, harmony, and connect with transcendence. Then the “Labyrinth Jesus” who they follow with so much love and commitment answered: “I have always known you. You have trod my way (labyrinth) faithfully, lovingly and with gusto. Enter into the holy presence of my father.”

Amazed? . . . . Shocked . . .? Thinking . . .? What nerve does he have to change and rethink the Word of God in such a blasphemous way? Before you decide to stone me with some of the “klippies” you used to build your labyrinths, read here very carefully. What’s up with these guys? Don’t they ever read their Bibles to learn what the real Jesus has to say about lasting peace, harmony and connectedness with God? Have they become so blind to the truth that they are mindlessly resorting to all kinds of dredge and dust-filled ways to seek after God’s peace and presence? Have they forgotten what Jesus said?:

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.

Labyrinth in Grace Cathedral San Francisco This is definitely not the “labyrinth-Jesus” speaking here. Who is this “labyrinth-Jesus, anyway? To find a suitable answer we need to go back into pagan history. Wikipedia provides an elaborate history of the origins of the labyrinth which proves that it is not of God. Roger Oakland explains the meaning of the labyrinth as follows in his book “Faith Undone.”

The labyrinth is a maze-like structure that is growing in popularity, used during times of contemplative prayer. The participant walks through this structure until he comes to the center, then back out again. Unlike a maze, which has several paths, the labyrinth has one path. Often prayer stations (with candles, icons, pictures, etc.) can be visited along the way. The labyrinth originated in early pagan societ­ies. The usual scenario calls for the prayer to do some sort of medi­tation practice, enabling him or her to center down (i.e., reach God’s presence), while reaching the center of the labyrinth. (Emphasis added)

What lies at the heart of contemplative practices such as the labyrinth, silence, breath prayers, solitude, Jesus candles, icons, the Jesus prayer, lectio continua, lectio divina, 12  stages of the cross, which allegedly usher you into the holy presence of God? It all started with Cain’s bloodless sacrifice. Labyrinth Dad Adam and mom Eve taught him, as they did their son Abel, that God’s infinite holiness demanded no other way to approach Him but through the shedding of an innocent victim’s blood. Cain, however, despised God’s slaughtering of an innocent victim to cover up (atone for) their nakedness (sins) and decided to appease and satisfy Him with his own efforts and good works. Since then his way, in biblical terms known as the way of Cain (Jude 1:11), has been perpetuated throughout the ages by men and women who equally despise God’s remedy for our sins. Brian McLaren’s outright denial of the true meaning of the cross is symptomatic of the emergent movement.

"Perhaps our ‘inward-turned, individual-salvation-oriented, un-adapted Christianity’ is a colossal and tragic misunderstanding, and perhaps we need to listen again for the true song of salvation, which is ‘good news to all creation.’ So perhaps it’s best to suspend what, if anything, you ‘know’ about what it means to call Jesus ‘Savior’ and to give the matter of salvation some fresh attention. Let’s start simply. In the Bible, save means ‘rescue’ or ‘heal’. It emphatically does not mean ‘save from hell’ or ‘give eternal life after death,’ as many preachers seem to imply in sermon after sermon. Rather its meaning varies from passage to passage, but in general, in any context, save means ‘get out of trouble.’ The trouble could be sickness, war, political intrigue, oppression, poverty, imprisonment, or any kind of danger or evil." (A Generous Orthodoxy, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004, p. 93).

The crucifixion to McLaren is nothing more and nothing less than a temporal alleviation of mankind’s suffering caused by sickness, political intrigue, oppression, poverty, imprisonment (regardless of the reasons for a criminal’s incarceration) or any kind of danger or evil. Rob’ Bell’s philosophy of salvation is also related to the temporal in this world and not so much a place (heaven or hell) you go to in the afterlife after you’ve died. His problem is not with Jesus who wants to save all people and restore all things to Himself but with those who affirm that only certain people go to heaven. At his Mars Hill Pastor’s Conference held in January 2007 he asked some pertinent but very dangerous questions — dangerous for those who believe him.

Going to heaven? .  . . “That’s it?” The best we can do is some other just fire insurance? Just have to save  Rob Bellsouls? That’s message to the world? That’s despair. . . . Is that the best God can do? I need help today. . . . Is this what Jesus waved in front of people?

Some Jesus’ should be rejected.  . . . The Jesus who herds people in and kills them should be rejected. Do you believe in a God who would create billions of people only to watch them burn with no chance for any other sort of future? What kind of God do you believe in?

If you were asked the question “How does a person get saved, converted, in, redeemed, etc.?” and you only had the Bible to answer the question . . . you would have lots of answers. [It] Involves acts of love that demonstrate a change of heart, awkward exchanges, it’s all over the place . . . People come to Jesus in all sorts of ways. When we say “this is how it’s done” – it would be nice, but the problem is it’s not the way we see it. People stumble into the kingdom in all sorts of ways. Observations based on passages – how does a congregation move forward, how do you move forward, how do you proclaim? Salvation is holistic in nature. Jesus wants to save all of us. Jesus wants to save you from your past, from fear, from crippling worry, hatred, the myth of redemptive violence, from hating, racism, poverty, anything that hinders the full shalom that God created for the entire world. (Emphasis added)

Bell’s gospel of hope (in contrast with God’s Gospel of despair), declaring that Jesus wants to save all of us even from the scourge of poverty, is the most unkind, frivolous and destructive bit of exegeses I have ever heard. During his 2007 pastor’s Conference he warned that some Jesus’ ought to be rejected but he has no qualms whatsoever to embrace another Jesus who claims he wants to save the poor from their poverty. His Jesus is definitely not the Jesus who said: “You will always have the poor with you” (John 12:8). There are billions of desperately poor people on the earth. What are they supposed to think of a Jesus who wants to save them from their poverty but fails to do so? I am aware of a “Christ” who has  promised to alleviate and even eradicate the plight of the poorest of the poor. His name is Maitreya.

All major religions are expecting a divine messenger, albeit under different names, says Creme, and Maitreya has come in fulfillment of the prophecies of each. He has come earlier than anticipated by many religious groups because of the urgency of the times, in order to offer his counsel to a world in crisis. His priorities are simple: food, shelter, health care and education for everyone as guaranteed rights. His advice to humanity is just as simple. Share and save the world. When the plight of the poor and starving millions is alleviated then the recovery of the environment will become the first priority (Benjamin Creme during a press conference on 15 August 2006) (Emphasis added).

My task will be to show you how to live together peacefully as brothers. This is simpler than you imagine, My friends, for it requires only the acceptance of sharing. How can you be content with the modes within which you now live: when millions starve and die in squalor; when the rich parade their wealth before the poor; when each man is his neighbor’s enemy; when no man trusts his brother? Allow me to show you the way forward into a simpler life where no man lacks; where no two are alike; where the Joy of Brotherhood manifests through all men. Take your brother’s needs as the measure of your action and solve the problems of the world. (The Christ is Now Here, advertisement in the Rand Daily Mail, 24 April 1982).

Is this the Jesus Rob Bell is referring to? It must be because the real Jesus of the Bible is quite capable of saving people from the righteous judgments of God even by utilizing the dire circumstances caused by extreme poverty. In countries like China many people have found salvation in Jesus Christ after they had lost everything — their homes, their wives, their husbands, their savings, etc. They have learnt to be content with what they have despite their extreme poverty (Hebrews 13:5).

The preaching of the Gospel in order to save souls from the righteous judgements of God is to Rob Bell a Gospel of despair? Its just a fire insurance? No! says Rob Bell, the message of the Gospel is that God would never have created billions of people only to have them burn in hell with no chance for any other sort of future. His inference that people come to Jesus in all sorts of ways for their salvation opens the door wide for people of all religious persuasions to indulge in contemplative mysticism. It is therefore no wonder that such a low estimate of Christ’s sacrifice has lead to the notion that labyrinths and other contemplative practices are mystically empowered to bring anyone, regardless of their opinion of the cross, into the presence of God. In a downloadable PDF document of Bell’s Mars Hill church the sixth phase of the mystic practice of “lectio divina” the following advice is given.

Contemplation
Finish by focusing your attention on the fact that God’s presence is with you. If as you try to focus on God’s presence you sense a need to read the text again, to continue meditating, or to simply continue talking with God, allow yourself to do so. As you do, know that you are in the presence of God. (Emphasis added).

Voila! Your own doing (works) of “lectio divina” brings you into the holy presence of Almighty God. They are merely perpetuating Cain’s way of rending the veil from the bottom Stephan Joubert & Dries Lombaard to the top. These are the men some of our most revered and respected spiritual leaders, amongst them Stephan Joubert, Dries Lombaard, Dries Cronjé and many other young pastors, are looking up to for spiritual guidance. Dries Cronjé, a spiritual buddy of Dries Lombaard and Stephan Joubert had the following to say about Rob Bell on their e-church site:

Recently, I was privileged enough to get my hands (and eyes!) on Everything is Spiritual by Rob Bell.

You ask "Why Rob Bell again? Didn’t you review his material last time?" Well, I’m learning quite a bit from this most-genial disciple of Jesus and I want to share my excitement. My next post will be on someone different… Promise.

“The most-genial disciple of Jesus?” Really? The one who unashamedly distorts the Gospel of salvation? The one who promotes a kind of universalistic redemption?  Have we grown so accustomed to our wilful apostasy that we wilfully refuse to discern the spirit of antichrist in those whom we regard as followers of Jesus?

In my introduction I mentioned Esther who was afraid to approach her husband, king Ahasuerus, because she feared that he may not extend his sceptre of authority and approval to her. Although we are admonished to fear God, for it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31), all believers who have been cleansed of their sins in the blood of Christ have the confidence and boldness to enter into his presence in the most holy of holies in heaven. They may do so anytime and anywhere for the rest of their lives here on earth until they meet with Jesus face to face.

Hebrews 10:10-22 Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus, By this fresh (new) and living way which He initiated and dedicated and opened for us through the separating curtain (veil of the Holy of Holies), that is, through His flesh, And since we have [such] a great and wonderful and noble Priest [Who rules] over the house of God, Let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith (by that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), having our hearts sprinkled and purified from a guilty (evil) conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water. (Emphasis added)

What more do we want? What more do we need? Those who believe they may enter into the presence of God by means of their dusty and filthy labyrinths in the bushveld or even on the dusty marble floors of lofty cathedrals and other mystical contemplative paraphernalia are deceived and are deceiving others, especially our youth. They are not following Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, but another Jesus. Stop your nonsense and return to the cross of Jesus Christ. The blood of His cross is God’s sceptre He extends to everyone who is willing to touch the cross in faith for their salvation so that they may enter into His presence with rejoicing and eternal thanksgiving.

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The Prize-winning Oxymoron of the Week

Posted by Tom Lessing on April 24, 2009

Can you spot the oxymoron in the paragraph below which was taken from Rev. Cobus Wyngaard’s blog here? The oxymoron, in this particular case, may be defined as follows: “Fundamentalism is to know nearly nothing of the Bible” which suggests that “non-fundamentalism is to know nearly everything of the Bible.”

I haven’t really blogged on Easter this year, as I usually do (2007, 2008), but I’ll be preaching on the Easter events again this Sunday, since I know that most of the kids sitting in that service wouldn’t have been to church over Easter weekend. But my preparation is a struggle! I know the kids in this service: They know nearly nothing of the Bible. Many haven’t been to church for a number of years now. And they are very prone to fundamentalism. Their fundamentalism worries me. But broader than the fact that I need to preach to these kids, I also need to find a way of talking about the cross; for myself. This has obviously not started today, but I’ve been theologizing about the cross probably for at least 9 years now, since the first time I led a small group of 13 year olds at a camp. (Emphasis added)

I truly and humbly believe that the anti-fundamentalist non-fundamentalist fraternity do not have a clue what the meaning of fundamentalism is. Is that a good enough reason to exonerate them from their non-fundamentalist ignorance? I really don’t think so because Wikipedia and other excellent sources of information are at their disposal. Now, let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about Christian fundamentalism here.

The term “fundamentalism” has its roots in the Niagara Bible Conference (1878–1897) which defined those things that were fundamental to belief. The term was also used to describe “The Fundamentals”, a collection of twelve books on five subjects published in 1910 and funded by Milton and Lyman Stewart. This series of essays came to be representative of the “Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy” which appeared late in the 19th century within the Protestant churches of the United States, and continued in earnest through the 1920s. The first formulation of American fundamentalist beliefs can be traced to the Niagara Bible Conference and, in 1910, to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church which distilled these into what became known as the “five fundamentals”:

  • The inspiration of the Bible by the Holy Spirit and the inerrancy of Scripture as a result of this.
  • The virgin birth of Christ.
  • The belief that Christ’s death was the atonement for sin.
  • The bodily resurrection of Christ.
  • The historical reality of Christ’s miracles.

By the late 1910s, theological conservatives rallying around the Five Fundamentals came to be known as “fundamentalists.”

Since then, the focus of the movement, the meaning of the term Fundamentalism, and the ranks of those who willingly use it to identify themselves, have gone through several phases of re-definition, though maintaining the central commitment to its orthodoxy.

Though some of our distinguished non-fundamentalist friends may find it very difficult to associate the above five fundamentals with the Bible, I have it on very good authority that they are indeed biblical fundamentals. The very little remaining grey matter I have in my head tells me that anyone who upholds these five fundamentals must at least know something of the Bible. In fact, the feared fundamentalist kids in Rev. Wyngaard’s church whom he claims know nearly nothing of the Bible seem to know more of it than what he does. Not to worry, this is evidently ample proof of the veracity of Jesus’ words in Matthew 21: 16: “and [they] said to Him, “Do You hear what these children are saying?” And Jesus *said to them, “Yes; have you never read, “Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies You have prepared praise for Yourself’?”

Fundamentalism, according to Rev. Cobus van Wyngaard, also seems to be the outcome of “not having been to church for a number of years.” I’m not too sure whether he sees this as a positive or a negative thing. Nevertheless, I personally believe that the kids’ propensity for biblical fundamentalism would have been dealt a death-blow if they had loyally attended his church. Any pastor of a flock who claims to be “the teacher of Israel and do not understand these things?” (John 3:10) will obviously say things such as “I also need to find a way of talking about the cross; for myself. This has obviously not started today, but I’ve been theologizing about the cross probably for at least 9 years now, since the first time I led a small group of 13 year olds at a camp.” Why does he need to find a way to to talk about the cross and why does he need nine years to theologize about it when the fundamentals about the cross are given to him on a platter in the Bible? Could it be that he needs more time to theologize about the cross because he has rejected the fundamental biblical facts about the cross? Once Paul of Tarsus understood and believed the power and wisdom of the cross of Jesus Christ, he immediately preached it without having to wait another nine years before he was assured that he had at last found a way to articulate the meaning of the cross. In fact, he was so certain about the meaning of the cross that he was “determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).

Rev. Cobus van Wyngaard is obviously searching for a new take on the cross, “a reading of the Bible which calls for something else. I try and find the answer to the question “Why was Jesus crucified?” That’s an excellent question and I sincerely hope that he finds the correct answer before he meets his Maker. Perhaps the following question will make it much easier for him in his quest for the real meaning of the cross: “Why was Jesus crucified before the foundation of the world?” (1 Peter 1:20)

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The Dutch Reformed Church’s Downward Spiral into Apostasy

Posted by Tom Lessing on April 20, 2009

Isaiah 2:6 Surely [Lord] You have rejected and forsaken your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled [with customs] from the east and with soothsayers [who foretell] like the Philistines; also they strike hands and make pledges and agreements with the children of aliens. (Emphasis added)

Several high profile Dutch Reformed clergy as well as other well-known professors and doctors have openly and publically proclaimed that Christianity does not have the exclusive rights to spiritual truths and that Christians may learn from Eastern religions and even the New Age Movement. Professor Stephan Joubert of e-church fame, said on March 1, 2009 in a sermon at the Kemptonkruin Dutch Reformed Church:

“He [Rob Bell] says you must engage the culture. You must listen to the Buddhists. You must listen to what they have to say. It startles Christians because they do not clearly hear what Rob Bell is saying. He does not say: become like them. He says: read their stuff; find out why they are so important. They too may have truth. Truth is not only in Christianity. You find truth in Judaism. You can find truth in atheism. You can find truth wherever. God’s general truth is a little wider, but you say ‘Jesus is Lord.’”

Prof. Stephan Joubert is deceived and he is deceiving many if not all of his congregants in the e-church. Does the emerging mantra “Jesus is Lord” which was used ever so profusely in the charismatic movement have magical qualities, giving one a free pass to say and do whatever one likes without having to fear God’s righteous judgments? Has he never read Matthew 7:22, 23?

Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’

Rev. Jannie Pelser of the Rant and Dal Community Church and presenter of the programme “Brandpunt” on Radio Pulpit  is equally deceived. He said on Friday, 3 April  2009 in his programme.

“Is God’s revelation and work not bigger than Christianity? Could there not be elements . . . could we not learn from one another, regardless of the fact that it may even be the New Age. But when I think in terms of the contemplative [spirituality] . . . a being still before God, an openness to God. Is it not a rewarding moment?

My commentary here has since sparked off a debate between me and Rev. Guillaume Smit of the Brackenfell West Dutch Reformed Church in the Cape who feels that Christians may participate in Eastern religious activities such as yoga, karate, tae kwon do and other meditation techniques without compunction or fear that they may be getting involved in idolatry. He wrote as follows here.

This is why a Christian could, in principle, have the freedom to participate in eastern sport such as tae kwon do, karate or judo, provided the instructor only teaches the sport and not any form of eastern philosophy along with the sport. And since this is a point of contention for more conservative (sic) Christians, a Christian could also participate in meditation techniques that enable him/her to relax and get focused on worship or studying Scripture, provided this isn’t part of practices that is closely associated with eastern religions. Obviously, it makes sense to argue that participating in new age practices such as astrology or spiritism falls outside the scope of this principle, as these practices are also closely associated with the occult.

Could it be possible that Rev. Smit has ruled out the work of the Holy Spirit in worship and the studying of the Bible? Rev Guillaume’s statement that meditation techniques enable Christians to focus on worship and the studying of the Bible, is completely at variance with the teachings of Jesus. True worship, He said, is to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). God, Who is Spirit, cannot be worshipped in any other way than in spirit and in truth. This simply means that anyone’s spirit who hasn’t been quickened (made alive unto God) through repentance and faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross cannot worship God because their spirit is still dead in sin and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1). Jesus made this point when he told the man, who first wanted to bury his dad after Jesus had commanded him to follow Him, to let the dead bury their dead (Luke 9:60). The second prerequisite for true worship is to worship God in truth, the truth as we find it in God’s Word ALONE. The Holy Spirit ALONE can enlighten the mind to understand the Scriptures. In fact, Jesus said the Holy Spirit would teach God’s children all things and bring to their remembrance the things whatsoever He taught His disciples. In his High Priestly prayer Jesus asked his Father to sanctify his disciples in his truth, emphasising the fact that his Word is truth. Both Stephan Joubert and Jannie Pelser as well as Guillaume Smit are in the dangerous position of denying and vilifying the fact that it is ONLY the Holy Spirit that guides us into ALL truth (John 16:13). The Holy Spirit works ONLY within the parameters of God’s revealed truth as we find it in His Word. As such there can be no beneficial truths whatsoever in other religions and philosophies, let alone the New Age movement. I fear that our churches and their congregants (the sheep and little lambs) are being led astray by their pastors and “dominees” into a maze or labyrinth of venomous reptiles from whence it is becoming increasingly difficult to escape. In little more than a quarter of a century the Dutch reformed Church has moved from a position where it was outspoken against Eastern religions and their practices to a position of tolerance and participation mainly through one of its most “respected” champions of so-called Christian meditation, Dr. Willem Nicol.

Below is a tract the Dutch Reformed Church distributed to warn its congregants against transcendental meditation. As you can see it was published in 1977, a mere 32 years ago which shows how rapidly the Dutch Reformed Church has spiralled into apostasy since that time.

transcendental-meditation-11 Transcendental Meditation 2

Transcendental Meditation 3 Transcendental Meditation 4

I would like to translate some key phrases in behalf of our English readers. On page 3 it reads as follows:

The initiation ceremony is clearly a religious ritual and no one is allowed to participate in TM without it. The pupil and teacher remove their shoes, enter the room with candles and incense and place an offering of a white handkerchief, fruit and flowers on the altar in front of a photo of Guru Dev, Maharishi’s master.

A song of prayer is sung during this event to glorify pagan gods.

The pupil then receives his own MANTRA, a word or sound of one or more syllables which is completely meaningless to the pupil. TM claims that every person on earth has his/her own mantra that uniquely suits them. They assert that the teacher fortuitously receives the pupil’s mantra from Maharishi and that the teacher has the knack to know his pupil so well after only a few minutes that he is able to present him with just the right one.

A heavy atmosphere of mysticism and superstition surrounds this mantra: this word and it alone enables the devotee to meditate. It may never be written down or disclosed to someone else. The reason for this is evident. No wonder some people have discovered that they have the same mantra.

The above ceremony is known as the “Puja” in which the photo of the Guru Dev is used as a representation of the Hindu deities, Brahman, Shiva and Vishnu. The MANTRA can also be the name of one of thousands of Hindu gods. Christianized meditation in which the name “Jesus” or a phrase such as “have mercy on me” are used as mantras are no less dangerous to one’s spiritual life than the above mentioned ceremony. Some may argue that Christianized meditation has no affiliation to the offerings in the “Puja” ceremony. The fact remains that the repetitive mumbling of the mantra, whatever it may be, produces altered states of consciousness and opens the devotee up to demonic entities. In any case the Word of God forbids Christians to use a vain repetition of words as the gentiles do who think they will be heard by much speaking (Matthew 6:7).

Rev. Smit’s provisos to “detoxify” any form of Eastern meditation from its inherent and inseparable religious overtones, so that the Christian may worship God and study His Word in a relaxed way, is preposterous. The Bible warns that we should have no spiritual union with idolaters and the unbelievers’ spiritualities.

2 Cor 6:14 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God.

The flip side of this coin is, however, that if your body is not the temple of God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God does not indwell you, you may probably participate in these idolatrous practices without compunction. By all means, continue to do so but remember that the wrath of God will remain on you until you repent of your ways. This applies to all the other disciplines Rev. Smit mentioned in his defence of these practices, i.e. tae kwon do, karate or judo. Karate has its roots in Zen Buddhism and its principles were handed down in great secrecy by word of mouth from Zen Master to Buddhist Monk. An Indian Buddhist priest named Bodhidharma in the 6th century A.D. in China, synthesized karate techniques and Yoga meditation in order to unite mind, spirit, and body. (Among the Chinese styles are kung fu or gung fu, wu shu, and pa kua. Tai kwan do and hapkido are among the Korean styles.) Karate is clearly not only a mental and moral exercise, but indeed, a spiritual experience. In each practice session there is a concerted effort to unite mind, spirit, and body just as Bodhidharma sought to do with Zen priests.

Rev 18: 4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;

To end my commentary on this subject I would like to quote from Dr. Kurt Koch’s book “Occult ABC” to highlight the dangers of yoga.

Yoga chakras YOGAYoga of Jesus

The word yoga is derived from Sanskrit and is possibly the root underlying the Greek word “ioge,” shelter, and the Latin “jugum,” yoke. If these linguistic associations are anything to go by, to practice yoga is to put oneself under a yoke, or to seek shelter from a protective power.

It is impossible to present yoga fully in a short chapter. To begin with, there are many forms of Indian and Tibetan yoga, so many that it would take more than one large volume to list them all. It would take up too much space here even to describe one single form.

For a good introduction to yoga, Maurice Ray’s book Joga, ja oder nein? is recommended. This book describes Hatha Yoga and Raja (Royal) Yoga from the standpoint of the Christian faith. It is the best discussion of yoga from a Christian point of view known to me.

In this brief account I can only give a very limited part of the whole. I have used the following sources:

1. Pastoral counselling in the West and the East, especially in East Asia, where I have travelled extensively eight times.

2. Information given me by the Indian professor de Roy, who has studied the yoga practice in his country.

3. The definitive work by Mishra on Patanjali Yoga: The Textbook of Yoga Psychology. Several key sentences from Mishra’s work will introduce us to the spiritual atmosphere of yoga:

a. The higher ego of man is transcendent and immanent, without beginning and without end, it has no birth and no death.

b. Yoga means the synthesis of the physical and metaphysical universe.

c. Heaven and hell are only products of the human mind.

d. Behind magic, mysticism and also behind the occult the yoga system is present.

These four sentences show clearly that yoga and the Bible cannot be harmonized in the remotest way. The systems of the Far East and the Christian faith are irreconcilable opposites.

If we take a cross section of the most well-known forms of yoga, we can recognize four stages.

The first stage has the aim of helping the student of yoga to gain control of his consciousness and his body. This goal is achieved by means of mental and physical exercises.

The mental exercises include meditation, autogenic training, con­centration, and “koan,” a litany involving the continuous repetition of a mantra (secret word).

The physical exercises include breathing exercises and various bodily postures like the lotus position, the cobra position, and the headstand.

This first stage is thus psychosomatic in nature, producing unity of body and mind.

There are many Christians who believe that it is possible to par­ticipate in this first stage of yoga without harm. It is merely a matter of relaxation exercises. If only this were true! Counselling experience tells otherwise. This technique of relaxation and these “emptying exercises” so highly spoken of by the yogis lead to the inflowing of another spirit—other spirits. The students of yoga do not notice it.

Ex 266 G.C., a Christian teacher, told me that during an evan­gelistic campaign, a certain man and his daughter had wished to surrender their lives to Christ. But they found themselves unable to do so. Only after they had renounced their yoga exercises and repented of them did they succeed in coming through to Christ.

Ex 267 In Johannesburg, South Africa, I counselled a theology student. He was a young man who had been converted to Christ some years before. Hearing about a yoga course which had been announced in church, he applied to join. After a few months, he noticed a change in his spiritual life. His desire to read the Bible disappeared. He also became tired of prayer. I advised him very strongly to give up his yoga exercises at once and to renounce the whole thing.

The second stage of yoga involves the control of the unconscious mind. When a person has mastered the second stage, he can control and guide, for instance, his visceral nerves. I have met masters of the second stage who can perform astonishing feats.

Ex 268 In a Western university town, I met a theology student who practiced the second stage of yoga. He was able to increase or decrease his circulation of blood. Being inclined to be humorous, he used to entertain his fellow students by showing off his abilities. He could make one of his ears red and the other one white at the same time. He could also cause red spots to appear on his skin by suggestion.

I could only wonder what kind of gospel this young man will one day preach to his parishioners.

Ex 271 The most enlightening experience I have had of this sort was in California. A young woman came to me for counselling. She told me that she had been a master of the second stage of yoga. In the course of her yoga exercises, she had actually chosen Jesus as her guru. Note this, not Jesus as her Savior and Redeemer, but only as her example, her great master. During her yoga exercises, she developed occult powers. She became unhappy about it, and tried to free herself. It was then that she first realized what a power yoga had over her. She began to seek Christ. Several of her friends prayed for her. After terrible struggles she became free. She wrote an account of her experi­ences entitled “From Yoga to Christ.” She gave me permission to publish it.

Yoga does not liberate; it enslaves. Yoga does not free; it binds. Yoga does not enlighten; it brings confusion. Yoga does not prepare the way for Christ, as Father J. M. Dechanet (Cahier du Val) claims, but makes people immune to redemption through Christ. Yoga does not open the door for the Holy Spirit, but for spiritist spirits.

The third stage of yoga is concerned with the mastery of the natural powers. I have found very few examples of this in the West, but very many in the East. It is the speciality of Tibetan yogis to combine magic and yoga. After three years of apprenticeship under a lama, who is the master of this art, the adept (apprentice) has to be able to produce energy in the form of heat in natural objects, such as melting ice by means of mental concentration.

I have still more frequently come across the converse of this, where yogis are able to produce heat and even flames. We find this among the fire worshippers, who also practice fire magic.

Ex 272 In Port Elizabeth, one of these fire masters, who had emigrated from India to South Africa, came to me for counselling. He made a confession and asked for my help. I showed him the way to Jesus. He was willing to accept Jesus as his Lord. I do not know if he has continued in the faith. Occultists often fall back into their old ways.

Those who are still in doubt as to whether stage one or two of yoga results in occult processes must admit that when it comes to stage three, yoga leads to the powers of the abyss.

At the fourth stage, the yogi gains the mastery of the dark arts. The Lamas of Tibet are particularly well known for this. I have collected very many examples of stage four yoga. In Kalimpong on the Tibetan border, I came into contact with many Tibetans. I have also received reports from former missionaries in Tibet. Especially enlightening was the confession of a man who has given me permission to publish his story.

Ex 273 My informant had studied yoga, magic and spiritism for ten years with the Lamas. He had heard of my lectures in Sydney and followed me on to Newcastle, Australia. He made a full confession and named his specific sins. He said, “What the Lamas teach is the cult of spirits, the cult of demons. Please help me to become free.” We had a long talk together. From this man I learned that the Tibetan yogis are masters of the trance, materialization, excursion of the soul, telekinesis, levitation, perfectly controlled telepathy, and all the arts of spiritism. At stage four, which I have met in this intensity only with Tibetans, Zombis, Alauts, Maccumbas, and voodooists, yoga can no longer, with the best will in the world, disguise its true character. Here yoga reaches its ultimate master — Satan, whose desire it is with his promises and his wiles to snatch people away into the abyss.

There is no need for further comment on the religious side of yoga. Yoga ends not only in self-redemption and atheism, but in the cult of demons. Those who undertake to take part in yoga exercises enter a force field by which they are unwittingly directed towards the origin of these powers. These are the powers of which Paul speaks in his epistles, (see Colossians 2:15). Christ has freed us from the spirits, demons, and powers. The chief of these powers is Lucifer, who is seeking to win back those he has lost. And what successes he has gained, for yoga has become the fashion in the West!

A quotation from a book published overseas confirms my own view. In the book “Satan kumpf um diese Welt,” by Lindsey and Carlson, we read, “Chris Pike (a son of Bishop Pike) told me in a personal interview that he previously practiced yoga and meditation. As a result he had become controlled by spirit beings which had nearly destroyed his life. He then renounced these powers in the name of Jesus, and today he is a witness to the transforming power of Jesus Christ. His life was completely changed.” (Effects of Occult Devices 261)

All Christians who are allowing themselves unsuspectingly to be led astray into yoga should take note of Galatians 5:1, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” (Kurt Koch: Occult ABC” Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, pp 256-261).

One of the strangest phenomena of our postmodern times is that many clergy actually practice the “ancient-future” philosophy of the emergent church. They cling to their traditional roots and simultaneously take hold of so-called new age practices in a wonderfully pyrotechnical display of emergent unification. This is not of God and will inevitably lead you into the miseries of the abyss . . . unless of course you repent and turn to Jesus Christ.

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The Enigmatic Ping-Pong Love of the Emergent Fraternity

Posted by Tom Lessing on April 13, 2009

King Solomon’s wise remark in Ecclesiastes 1:9 “The thing that has been, it is what will be; and that which has been done is that which will be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” is relevant and true to this very day. It is particularly true of most people’s reactions, and especially high profile persons such as professors, doctors, and pastors (“dominees)” in the post modern emergent camp, when they are confronted with the unalterable, infallible and eternal truth of God. Allow me to explain this in terms of an incident in the Bible when Paul and Silas were severely beaten in prison subsequent to their witnessing to the truth. Paul and Silas, as with all the other disciples, witnessed to the truth; they heralded it and never sought to engage in a conversation with the idolaters of their time. They never said: “Ok you guys, let us congenially gather around the coffee table where you may teach us the beatitudes in your religion and we will teach you ours. We’re not interested in converting you to our religion; we’re merely trying to find common ground so that we may learn from one another.”

Acts 16:25-37

But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened. When the jailer awoke and saw the prison doors opened, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!”And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household. And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household. Now when day came, the chief magistrates sent their policemen, saying, “Release those men.” And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The chief magistrates have sent to release you. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us in public without trial, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now are they sending us away secretly? No indeed! But let them come themselves and bring us out.” (Emphasis added)

That’s what I love about Paul. Contrary to today’s emergent leaders such as Stephan Joubert who make such a big fuss of the integrity of Rob Bell, his own name and even those of his fellowmen were of little concern to him (Galatians 2:6) when matters pertaining to God’s truth and the doctrine of salvation needed to be defended in the face of Christ’s enemies. Nevertheless, when simple justice called for it, he stood his ground like a man and confronted his persecutors head-on: “Hey, you guys cannot just cast us out like common dirt when you violated your own country’s laws. They have beaten us mercilessly and now your highly respected magistrates whose integrity you hold in high esteem want to thrust us out shamelessly and secretly? Tell your highly esteemed magistrates to come here and accompany us out with due respect and honour.”

Before I continue, I would like to emphasize that I have no concern for my own name when it is maligned in behalf of Christ and His Gospel. In fact, the “black-and-white” defined truth is that all Christians should leap with joy when they are maligned, ridiculed and persecuted for the Name of Jesus Christ and His Gospel (Matthew 5: 11; Acts 5:41). However, I fail to understand how someone who calls himself a Christian can publicly associate my name with the devil, who is the father of all lies and a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44), and subsequently make an about turn to send me a private e-mail, assuring me that he is praying for me and my family. A serious dilemma arises: should he pray to God for Tom Lessing and his family or should he pray for “an agent of the devil (the father of all lies and a murderer from the beginning) and his family? He reminds me of Dr. Johan van den Heever of the Eldoraigne Dutch Reformed Emergent Church who recently also very piously called me his brother. It is this kind of ping-pong love no one dares to trust, because you never know what they are going to call you next. A fountain cannot bring forth bitter and sweet water (James 3:11).

Although Rev. Guillaume Smit did not give me permission to post on my blog an e-mail he recently sent me, he has no authority to prevent me from disclosing the general content of his mail. I never gave him permission to label me an agent of the devil and yet he wilfully and maliciously called me the agent of the father of all lies who is a murderer from the beginning on the internet for the entire world to see. Now he clandestinely wants me to continue our discussion in private. He wants to gently and secretly get rid of me like those magistrates in Paul’s day. Nonetheless, I have decided to disclose, on the internet as he had done in calling me an agent of the devil, that he has now piously decided to pray for me and my family. He is determined to pray that God would overcome me with His love; that He would open my spiritual eyes so that I may know the truth, and yet when I presented him with the truth from Scripture he accused me of legalism and pharaseeism; and that my “black-and-white” theology is an outright fallacy. His ad hominem accusations are not even original. He parrot-talks after other emergent gurus who call themselves Christians. In one of his reviews of Ron Martoia’s book, “Static,” he wrote here: Ron Martoia

Static “I also re-read Ron Martoia’s book, Static, in this time. Martoia challenges his readers to rethink salvation and sin in light of a biblical understanding of Scripture rather than a theological understanding (my words). I agree with him on the issue: We are way too obsessed with black-white legalistic issues when it comes to Christian life and ethics. It results in the Christian church becoming more and more like a Pharisaical religion in stead of being an authentic Jesus movement” (Emphasis added).

The overriding meaning of the above quoted section is evident: If you believe the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, unalterable and eternal Word of God, you are a “black-and-white-legalistic-Pharisee” as opposed to the “authentic Jesus movement” that promotes yoga and other disciplines in Hinduism, Buddhism and New Age philosophies. Many emergent preachers claim that all religions have wonderful and beautiful truths that may be incorporated freely into Christianity in order to enhance the “authentic Jesus movement’s” evangelical outreach throughout the world.

The questions we should ask is why we need to have second thoughts about biblical salvation and what the purpose is behind the emergent fraternities “rethinking” process. Biblical salvation is an individual-istic redemption. The Holy Spirit deals with every individual in a personal way convicting him/her of their own particular sins with the purpose of bringing them to a position where they contritely acknowledge (confess) their sins and eternal lostness to Jesus Christ in order for them to be saved from the righteous wrath and indignation of an infinitely holy God. Not so with the emergent church. This kind of salvation is too narrow-minded, too harsh and judgmental, too simplistic and out of touch with postmodern man’s immediate needs. They can no longer wait for Jesus Christ to usher in His Kingdom of peace, wholeness, and wellness. They want it here and now, the result being that they have derailed biblical salvation and shunted it to a parallel sounding rail of a global resurrection or salvation, which is nothing more than a social gospel. Rev. Jannie Pelser’s transformational theology to inculcate healthy and sound norms and values in our society falls squarely in this category.

In Flip Loots’ programme “Oop Gesprek” (Sunday, 12 April 2009) his two guests, Jannie Pelser and Graham Power (who was one of the sponsors of of the “Parliament of the World’s Religions” in Cape Town in December 1999), once again advertised their missional programme to inculcate sound and healthy norms and values in our society. How do they aim to forge healthy and civilized norms and values in our society when they unashamedly tolerate the corruption and highly unethical transformation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their churches and seminaries, and unashamedly and publicly spread the lie that we may learn from other religions and even the New Age because they too have certain beneficial truths inherent in their beliefs? (read here). Strengthened by their maxim “unashamedly ethical” they aim to eradicate corruption, crime and unethical practices from the top to the bottom. How dare they appoint themselves to the lofty position of guardians of social ethics (norms and values) when they unashamedly cuddle up to men who unashamedly corrupt the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Jannie Pelser admitted that we are living in the last of the last days which, according to Scripture, will be unashamedly characterized by a falling away from the faith. And yet, Jannie and Graham Power are confident and very excited that their missional thrust to transform South Africa and the whole of Africa with their norms-and-values-heart-transplant will be a resounding success. Who should we believe —  God or Jannie Pelser and Graham Power? I have written extensively on the fallacies of their unbiblical transformational “gospel” here and here.

I have already posted one of Rob Bell’s Nooma videos in one of my previous comments but would like to do so here again to prove to you what I mean.

The Gospel is NOT just about God not having given up on the world; that a giant resurrection rescue is on its way and that He wants to put it all back together, you, me and the whole world, again. The Gospel is the Good News of God’s unending longsuffering toward mankind as a whole, not willing that any should perish but that the entire world should come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. The sad news, however, is that the majority shun God’s divinely ordained way of saving lost sinners. They have rejected the cross of His Son because to them it is sheer foolishness  (1 Corinthians 1:18). They want Him to resurrect them into a new and wonderful life of well-being, wholeness and peace without the blood of His cross. The Gospel is the Good News only to those who in faith and repentance have responded to God’s divinely ordained way of salvation. To those who reject His free gift of salvation, there is no peace (Isaiah 42:22).

The late Alice Bailey, a Theosophist during her life, who was used as a channel by die spirit guide, Djwal Kuhl, said something very similar about a universal resurrection in her book The Externalization of the Hierarchy – Section III – Forces behind the Evolutionary Process

An Easter Message

Easter Day 1945

On this day, we recall to our minds the fact of Resurrection – a universal and eternally recurring resurrection. I would like to talk with you anent the Christ, about His work as head of the Hierarchy, and about the rebuilding which humanity must undertake and which the Hierarchy is seeking to impulse at this time. A great period of reconstruction is planned. Here are the two words around which I wish to create my theme: Resurrection and Reconstruction. It will be a reconstruction implemented by Those Who know the meaning of resurrection, and it will involve a resurrection of humanity through the medium of its intelligentsia and men and women of goodwill. These two groups (the Hierarchy and Humanity) will need to be brought into a closer rapport, and this is entirely possible if the followers of the Christ realize their opportunity and shoulder their responsibilities. I would point out that when I use the phrase “followers of the Christ” I refer to all those who love their fellowmen, irrespective of creed or religion. Only upon this basic premise can a hopeful future be founded.

I do not care whether or not those who read my words accept the occult teaching of a spiritual and planetary Hierarchy over which the Christ presides, or whether they think in terms of Christ and His disciples. The essential recognition for which I plead is that this great group of spiritual Individuals, Who receive so general a recognition throughout the world and in all the great religions, should be [469] regarded as active. The Christian view of the Christ is built upon that which He enacted for us two thousand years ago and through which He symbolically indicated to us the way which all aspirants must go. It portrays a picture of a waiting, quiescent Christ, living in some vague and far away heaven, “resting on His laurels” and practically doing nothing very much until such time as the sons of men of every race and creed acclaim Him as Savior; this they must do both as individuals and as representing the organized Christian Church. It is a picture of a listening, observing Christ, animated by pity and compassion, but Who has done all He could and now waits for us to do our part; it is also a picture of One Who waits to see what humanity, as a whole, will accept theologically. In the mind of the narrow, fundamentalist theologian, Christ is seen as presiding over a peaceful place called Heaven, into which the elect are welcomed; He is also seen as consigning all who remain aware of their own spiritual integrity and responsibility, who refuse to be gathered into organized churches or who go idly or wickedly through life, to some vague place of eternal punishment. To this vast multitude (probably the majority) His love and compassion apparently do not reach, and His heart remains untouched. It appears that He cares not whether they suffer eternally or attain complete annihilation.

This surely cannot be so. None of these pictures is accurate or adequate; they are not true in any sense of the word. . . Resurrection is the clue to the world of meaning, and is the fundamental [470] theme of all the world religions – past, present and the future. Resurrection of the spirit in man, in all forms in all kingdoms, is the objective of the entire evolutionary process and this involves liberation from materialism and selfishness. In that resurrection, evolution and death are only preparatory and familiar stages. The note and message sounded by the Christ when last on Earth was resurrection, but so morbid has been mankind and so enveloped in glamor and illusion, that His death has been permitted to sidestep understanding; consequently, for centuries, the emphasis has been laid upon death, and only on Easter Day or in the cemeteries is the resurrection acclaimed. This must change. It is not helpful to a progressive understanding of the eternal verities to have this condition perpetuated. The Hierarchy is today dedicated to bringing about this change and thus altering the approach of mankind to the world of the unseen and to the spiritual realities. (Emphasis added).

“Liberation from materialism and selfishness” is a recurring theme in many religions and philosophies. On Saturday, 24 April 1982 the following advertisement appeared in the Rand Daily Mail under the title “THE CHRIST IS NOW HERE.”

WHO IS THE CHRIST?

Throughout history, humanity’s evolution has been guided by a group of enlightened men, the Masters of Wisdom. They have remained largely in the remote desert and mountain places of earth, working mainly through their disciples who live openly in the world. This message if the Christ’s reappearance has been given primarily by such a disciple trained for his task for over 20 years.

At the centre of this Spiritual Hierarchy stands the World Teacher, Lord Maitreya, known by Christians as the Christ. And as Christians await the Second Coming, so the Jews await the Messiah, the Buddhists the fifth Buddha, the Muslims’ the Imam Mahdi, and the Hindus await Krishna. These are all names for one individual.

His presence in the world guarantees there will be no Third World War.

WHAT IS HE SAYING?

My task will be to show you how to live together peacefully as brothers. This is simpler than you imagine, My friends, for it requires only the acceptance of sharing.

How can you be content with the modes within which you now live: when millions starve and die in squalor; when the rich parade their wealth before the poor; when each man is his neighbour’s enemy; when no man trusts his brother?

Allow me to show you the way forward into a simpler life where no man lacks; where no two are alike; where the Joy of Brotherhood manifests through all men.

Take your brother’s needs as the measure of your action and solve the problems of the world.

It is very interesting that yoga and transcendental meditation are presented on the internet as metaphysical ways to alleviate the suffering in the world:

Transcendental Meditation can improve your grades, make you a better citizen, assure you of a higher salary, alleviate world suffering, and increase the productivity of the national economy, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi promised an overflow crowd of about 200 in Leverett House Junior Common Room last night.(Read here).

It is evident that this resurrection of humanity will take take place by means of a massive paradigm shift, corporately induced primarily through meditation, and contemplative spirituality (centering prayer) which, in turn, is solidly embedded in Eastern religious practices such as yoga and other New Age philosophies. The Bible warns against passivity or inactivity of the mind because the mind, according to Scripture, is the avenue by which change and transformation is brought about in a person’s life. Paul warns us not to be conformed to this world system and its philosophies but to be transformed by the renewal of our mind so that we may prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2). In Ephesians 4:23 he says that we should be renewed by the spirit of our mind and Peter in his first Epistle (1:13) warns that we should gird up the loins of our mind. Our minds should continually be taken captive in obedience to the will of Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 10: 5). Indeed, the mind is the battleground for the souls of men and Satan will  do everything in his power to neutralize the mind so that he may invade and take captive the thoughts of men in obedience to his will. In fact, the Bible states very clearly that it is he, the god of this world, who blinds the minds of unbelievers so as to keep the Gospel veiled in them that perish (2 Corinthians 4:3). Contemplative spirituality with its emphasis on stillness and passivity of the mind (altered states) is unmistakably the primary vehicle Satan utilizes to captivate the hearts of men and to bring about change in the world; a change that allegedly brings on global peace, tranquillity, wholeness, wellness and euphoric love and compassion. This kind of peace, love, wholeness and wellness cannot and will not last because its orchestrator is bent on the destruction of mankind. No wonder the Bible says that when they say peace and safety a sudden inescapable destruction will come upon them (1 Thessalonians 5:3).

Ron Martoia who pleads that we should rethink salvation and sin in the light of a biblical understanding of Scripture and whose ideas Rev. Guillaume Smit endorses wholeheartedly, has some very unbiblical ideas about salvation and sin. In his opinion Jesus rarely said anything about getting to heaven. Tony Cartledge of the ABP Associated Baptist Press released a report on 8 February 2007 of a conversation Ron Martoia had with several religious leaders on January 29. 2007. He wrote:

CONOVER, N.C. (ABP) — Despite decades of tweaking evangelistic methods, there is little evidence that many Christians are experiencing true life change, Ron Martoia told church leaders Jan. 29. (Read he entire article here.)

Perhaps, the church consultant said, that failure is because Christians in the Western world have been prone to think of salvation as a “point-of-sale” transaction that focuses on getting to heaven instead of appreciating that Jesus came to fulfill the Old Testament promise of shalom, a concept that suggests wholeness, wellness, and peace.

Based on surveys he has done, Martoia said nine out of 10 pastors define the gospel as the good news that Jesus died for people’s sins so they can go to heaven. But Jesus rarely said anything about getting to heaven. He focused mainly on present human needs. Jesus’ self-stated mission, as found in Luke 4:16-19, is derived from Isaiah 61:1-2 and incorporated the Old Testament sense of bringing deliverance, healing and wholeness.

Preaching about forgiveness from sin becomes increasingly ineffective in a postmodern world where a sense of guilt and obligation is less often operative, Martoia said. In contemporary American culture, one can no longer assume that people identify themselves as sinners in need of grace.

“People may not think of themselves as sinners going to hell, but they seek wholeness and recognize they’re not there,” he said.

Thus, Martoia suggested that the Genesis 1 creation of humankind in God’s image (imago Dei) is a better starting point for evangelism than beginning with the “fall” story of Genesis 3: “What would it be like for us to begin the conversation with people as if we’re trying to live out the image of God in us and want them to live out the image of God in them?”

The inner imago Dei creates the yearning to believe that there is purpose to life, that life can be better, and that belonging is possible, Martoia said. It’s a trio of longings that correspond to faith, hope and love, he said.

Helping others identify and get in touch with the image of God in them is more of a process than a one-time transaction. And seeing the gospel through imago Dei calls for an apologetic that begins relationally, not just rationally, Martoia said. (Emphasis added)

You need not look far to realize what Ron Martoia, also known as a transformational architect, means when he says get in touch with the image of God in them is more than a one-time transaction” (i.e. being born from above). It provides ample proof why he is into Eastern mysticism and why his ideas on salvation (i.e. wholeness wellness and peace) are based on his keen interest in yoga and the integral theory. The “Excellerators” website describes Ron Martoia as a transformational architect who is addicted to golf and is also a yoga instructor. A short description of his book here reads as follows:

Dr. Ron Martoia proposes using modern interpretations of basic Christian terms sometimes employed in evangelistic attempts. So many witness encounters are compromised by, among other things, the unwillingness to rephrase biblical language into something more understandable to the listener. Maybe the words we sometimes use confuse more than inform. Is the Christian message hopelessly out of date? Dr. Martoia would say no, it just needs to be rephrased. Addressing secondary elements of the witness encounter (the basics of conscience-level communication and subsequent conviction are not addressed), Martoia tells the story of his interaction with two young adults and their attempt to fully present the Gospel to their friend. While advocating positive positions on some issues that many feel are at odds with Christianity, including yoga and feminism, Martoia does address the need for a change from how evangelism has been attempted in recent years. (Emphasis added).

If Jesus rarely spoke of heaven and focused mainly on human needs, his crucifixion, burial, resurrection and ascension would have been a nonsequitur. The biblical facts, as He Himself stipulated prior to His ascension, are that He was going to prepare a place in heaven for all His true followers (John 14:1, 2). In addition, He also promised them that they would encounter hatred, persecution, affliction and tribulation in this world but that they should remain vigilant and loyal to Him, even unto death, because He would never forsake or leave them. Biblical salvation is not a transaction; it is a command. When the biblical Jesus began his public ministry His very first words were “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Repentance is not an option, it is an absolute necessity and anyone who disobeys His command will forfeit eternal life in heaven (John 23:36). Brother Paul said, in stark contrast to Ron Martoia’s rethinking philosophies, the following:

1 Cor 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (Emphasis added)

I have not only recently been accused of being an agent of the devil but also of unethical practices such as “stealing.” What can be more unethical than stealing away the truth out of the hearts of men, women and children who could have been saved if they had heard the true Gospel instead of the mishmash “gospel” of the emergent church? What is more unethical than the infringement of God’s sole rights on His Gospel by rethinking, changing and revamping it to make it more palatable for the postmodern creature? It is not only unethical and not only amounts to spiritual theft but is also downright dangerous. Read here.

When Mr. Sarel van der Merwe (in Jannie Pelser’s programme “Brandpunt” – 03/04/2009) pointed out that Rob Bell promotes Yoga in his Mars Hill sermons they thought he was off his rocker. Subsequent to the programme, Rev. Guillaume Smit wrote a comment on his blog under the title “Does Rob Bell teach Yoga?” After a quick survey on the internet he found a sermon Rob preached on May 29, 2005 called “breath.” Instead of doing an in depth survey on the dangers of yoga, he came to the conclusion that Rob only used Yoga as an illustration and ended his comment in sympathetic praise for yoga. Read his comment here.

But as I’m not a member of his community I’m not privy to the subcultures prevalent in Mars Hill. Maybe yoga is practiced by a lot of his church members as part of their daily exercise routine. After all, yoga, as with karate and judo and other martial arts sports, can be practiced without getting involved in eastern religions or eastern philosophy. (Emphasis added)

The issue is not whether Rob Bell’s congregants practice yoga but that he promotes and teaches yoga during some of his sermons.

The Hindu masters or yogis themselves maintain that Yoga cannot be divorced from its inherent spiritual purpose which is to be yoked to the impersonal Hindu God Brahman. Yogi Baba Prem, Vedavisharada, CYI, C.ay, C.va wrote:

It was quite astonishing to see on the flyer “Christian Yoga! This Thursday night….” I could feel the wheels spinning in my brain. “Christian Yoga”, I thought. Now while Christians can practice yoga, I am not aware of any Christian teachings about yoga. Yoga is not a Judeo/Christian word! It is not a part of the Roman Catholic teachings and certainly not a part of protestant teachings. It is not found within the King James Version of the bible. It is a Hindu word, or more correctly a Sanskrit word from the Vedic civilization. So how did we get “Christian Yoga”? From this I could conclude that “Christian Yoga” could only indicate one of two possibilities:

1) Christianity is threatened by yoga and is attempting to take over this system that “invaded their turf” pertaining to spiritual teachings and techniques.

2) Christianity is subconsciously attempting to return to the spiritual roots of civilization—the Vedic civilization.

I thought to myself, “why would they want to take over yoga?” Could it be due to the decline of members within the Christian church within the last 60 years? Is this an extensive marketing plan cooked up in some New York marketing guru’s head? Is it an attempt to water down the teachings of yoga and import their own teachings into the system? Or is it that they cannot stand not to own everything spiritual? I think the best reason might be that yoga, and eastern spirituality, offered answers to the spiritual questions that the spiritually hungry masses had. It offered a practical, rational, logical, and truthful approach to spirituality. It did not contain any form of self-righteous condemnation, but offered love and acceptance to all. It did not prey upon victims with terms such as “Sin” and “eternal damnation”. But most importantly, it had answers! It offered a practical approach to cultivating a relationship with divinity. It offered a systematic approach and an abstract approach to meet the varying temperaments of the spirituality hungry.

The second possibility was that Christianity was itself looking for answers. A small book filled with judgment, inflexibility, and condemnation was no longer fulfilling the needs of the masses or the leaders of the church. Offering yoga classes allowed the Christian to secretly practice Hinduism without having to renounce their Christian tradition. Possibly by embracing the technology of yoga and meditation, the Christian church could finally return to the idea of love and acceptance that it believed it was founded upon. It is ironic that one religion would need to look to another religion to teach them about love, peace, harmony, and forgiveness. If successful, it could embrace these ancient teachings and save itself from the fate it planted over the last few thousand years. (From: http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com) (Emphasis added).

This is exactly what happens to Christians who practice yoga. They become yoked to a Hindu god (a demonic entity) who teaches them that the Bible and the God of the Bible are no longer sufficient to meet the needs of people in a wretched world full of misery, suffering, poverty and disease. It has become a redundant “black-and-white” book that only makes people feel guilty about themselves while all they need is love, love and more love — they need a relational (an experience orientated) and not a rational theology.

The following excerpt comes from The Encyclopaedia of New Age Beliefs, p. 595

The Oxford American Dictionary defines “yoga” in the following manner: “1) A Hindu system of meditation and self-control designed to produce mystical experience and spiritual insight. 2) A system of physical exercises and breathing control (4414:1085). Most people only think of yoga in terms of the second definition. We will show that this is a mistake. When examining the true goal of yoga, one sees why these two definitions cannot ultimately be separated. In other words the one who practices yoga as “a system of exercises and breathing control” is also practicing a system “designed to produce mystical experience and spiritual (occult) insight.” For example, Ernest L. Rossi of the Department of Psychology at UCLA states how yoga is designed to induce altered states of consciousness.

“When one considers the ancient yoga science of pranayama (controlled breathing) to have relevance, then one must admit that the manual manipulation dyhana is the most thoroughly documented of techniques for altering consciousness. For thousands of years these techniques for the subtle alterations of nasal breathing have been gradually codified into classical texts: Hatha Yoga Pradipika (II, 6-9, 19-20) Siva Samhita (III: 24, 25), Geranda Samhita (V: 49-52) and Yoga Chudamani Upsanisad (V: 98-100). A new tradition of psychological and experimental research exploring these ancient techniques has been developing during the past decades (Gasegawa en Kern, 1978), the work of Vinekar (1966), Rao and Potdar (1970), Eccles (1978), and Funk and Clarke (1980) also provides a broad background of independent studies using Western laboratory methods in studying the relationship of this nasal cycle to the ancient yogic tradition of pranayama in achieving psychosomatic health and the transpersonal states of dhyana (deep contemplation and Samadhi or occult enlightenment) (1046:113-14).

The end purpose is for the individual to realize that he or she is one essence with God or ultimate reality. In other words, one must realize he or she is God. Whatever school of yoga is used (hatha, raja, bhakti etc.) whether it is Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Sufi, Tantric or some other, the goal is typically the same: occult enlightenment achieved by internal manipulation of occult energies (prana, chi) leading to altered states of consciousness in order to produce awareness of one’s inherent union with God or ultimate reality (611).

Read here what Rev. Guillaume Smit says about Ron Martoia who is a yoga instructor and practices yoga himself.

“Ron Martoia said in his book, Transformational Architecture, that we reduced the Bible to a set of propositional statements that explain salvation and that we further on focus on the communication of information. We miss the reality that the Bible testimony is of God’s work on earth by way of a collection of stories.”

Who is Ron Martoia? Look here:

In an interview (emergent conversation) with Ron Martoia 11/28/2006) he said:

Thomas Keating & Ken Wilber “But I will say this, I am renewed in the commitment for a quiet daily centering prayer practice and the immense impact it brings. I have just come off a five-day integral Christianity conference with father Thomas Keating, eighty-three-year-old Benedictine monk. One of the things we did each day was at least two to four sessions of centering prayer at a minimum of twenty minutes a session. Total silence, total inner silence.” “I think the thing I am challenging is the either/or of your questions “either wholeheartedly Christian or ashamedly secular?” We have to have both of those . . . all out full card carrying members of both. When we start to see unity where we have seen distinction, and I mean this in the sacred/secular distinction way, we will see spiritual emergence is happening and arising all around us and it is up to us to clear the obstacles that would impede that emergence. This is really an articulation also of John 16 that lets us see the Holy Spirit is at work in the life of every unbeliever (just like every believer) and it is up to us to help point out that activity.”

Also read here.

Now to Rhythm…
“Spiritual solitude is key for me as well. I have already mentioned the value and importance of a regula fidei and I genuinely believe in it’s centrality. That said, there is one thing I do every day, that is centering prayer. I have been on this pattern for nearly 4 full years now. Two times a day/20 min. (sometimes only one but ALWAYS at least one) I do centering prayer of the Father Thomas Keating sort. This is the way I enact and live into Psalm 46.10. I am convinced a centering practice along with daily input channels are what accounts for whatever creative and theological reflection I have going on in my life. My writing flows from the confluence of these two patterns.”

“Seven years ago I started down the yoga trail. Ashtanga Yoga is the power yoga, get a hard sweaty workout type of yoga. Some of you hear the word yoga and all sorts of red flags go up. Get a grip and do some reading. Yoga practice does not require you to be Buddhist, so relax. My nearly daily practice has improved so much. Yoga’s interface with a centering practice is actually a very interesting interplay. Maybe sometime I will write a post on that.”

Thomas Keating is one of the frequent lecturers on Ken Wilber’s website “Integral Spirituality.” The introduction to his site consists of a logo depicting the many symbols of different faiths with a cross right in the middle which all come together and merge into one single abstract symbol of ultimate unity. One can hardly miss the meaning when we take into account that the entire world is rapidly moving toward a one-world religion in which the infiltration of yoga and especially the contemplative spirituality into the Christian church are playing a major part.

Ray Yungen speaks on Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington. Read here.

“In the book Finding Grace at the Center, written by these two Catholic monks, the following advice is given: ‘We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible … Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices … “Thomas Keating and Basil Pennington have taken their Christianity and blended it with Eastern mysticism through a contemplative method they call centering prayer. I met a woman who once enthusiastically told me that in her church ‘we use a mantra to get in touch with God.’ She was referring to centering prayer … Keating and Pennington have both authored a number of influential books on contemplative prayer thus advancing this movement greatly. Pennington essentially wrote a treatise on the subject called Centering Prayer while Keating has written the popular and influential classic, Open Mind, Open Heart, and both are major evangelists for contemplative prayer.

This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that contemplative spirituality and yoga are wholly compatible and indeed strange bedfellows. These are the kind of issues we are dealing with — the infiltration of the New Age and the practices of other religions, particularly Hinduism and Buddhism. These are the dangers that are causing immense harm to the body of Christ, especially the younger generation (little lambs). What is the church going to do about it? Probably nothing, because most of them are already so deep into it that it would take a miracle to convince them they are playing with fire.

1 Tim 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,

Re 18:4 I heard another voice from heaven, saying, “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not participate in her sins and receive of her plagues;”

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