Archive | May 2015

“For Many Will Come in My Name, Saying, ‘I am Christ'”

(350) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY – “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am Christ'”

A commentary from C.H. Fisher (TruthKeepers) in regards from an article by Ray Yungen (http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17451). It is unfortunate that several large Christian Evangelical denominations have already started their slide down the Contemplative path.  I personally have to come to grips with the progression of my own denomination down this path so I will reserve comments about this aspect of his article for the time being –  

I had always wrestled with the phraseology of the statements, “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am Christ’”. I thought, “How can they come in His name, and yet declare to be Him?” It would seem that they must say, “In the name of Christ, I am the Christ.”

After reading about the New Age belief in “Christ Consciousness,” becoming a Christ through Contemplative Prayer invading Christianity, it struck me that it could be a fulfillment of prophecy. However, consider the statement of Tilden Edwards, founder of Shalem Institute and meontor of Ruth Haley Barton.

“This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality.” – Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend, p. 18

Consider that Joe Stumbo, George Wood, and other leaders of denominations that influence millions of people, are involved in and are promoting Contemplative Spirituality. George Wood, General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, even invited Ruth Haley Barton to speak at the denominations General Council in spite of letters, emails, and phone calls by concerned members and other people explaining her New Age beliefs.

Consider that many Christian colleges and universities are now accepting Spiritual Formation, which involved Contemplative Prayer. Many leading Christians are beginning to accept and promote the “Christ Consiousness.” The book, “Yeshua: Mystic Christianity and The Path To Christ Consciousness,” by William Walker Atkinson and Lateef Terrell Warnick is a blatant promotion of the heresy.

Unsuspecting professing Christians are blindly accepting Contemplative Spirituality through their pastors, in Conferences, and via books written by popular professing Christians that support Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, and other Contemplative mystics. This is not something to be taken lightly. I have observed that everyone who begins Contemplative Praying makes radical changes in their belief systems. They lose their discernment and begin to accept the major heretics and their heresy. Contemplative Prayer appears to be the door into the great and final deception and apostasy.

C.H. Fisher

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THE DARK SIDE OF MEDITATION and MINDFULNESS

(349) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY – MEDITATION & MINDFULNESS

For several years now, Christianity has continued down a path that is more inclusive of Eastern Religious practices in the form of meditation.  Popular authors, either directly or indirectly, include Eastern techniques into their writings of popular books sold at the Christian bookstore.  The popular trend today is to pair up these techniques with ancient mystical church traditions (usually Roman Catholic) which in the end moves people further away from the truth found in Scripture.  Authors such as  ==> Brian McLaren, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Dan Kimball, Rob Bell, Dough Pagitt, Rick Warren, Philip Yancey, Brennan Manning, Ruth Haley Barton, Thomas Merton, and yes, even folks such as Beth Moore.

The dark side of meditation and mindfulness: Treatment can trigger mania, depression and psychosis, new book claims

For those who have never heard of “mindfulness,” it is a Buddhist meditation practice that’s emphasized in Zen Buddhism.  Zen Buddhism is a mixture of Taoism and Buddhism.   Practitioners claim that mindfulness is spiritually neutral.  Right.  And I’m Tinkerbell.In her piece “Mindfulness For Children: Buddhism For Tots” former New Ager and long time astrologer Marcia Montenegro, explains how it is done:

Mindful meditation involves breathing a certain way, but it is also a way to transcend thinking. In fact, the mind is seen as a barrier. Focusing on slow breathing is meant to transcend conceptual thinking. Breathing in this way brings one into an altered state where critical thinking and judgment are suspended. In Buddhism, such thinking interferes with spiritual insight.

Marcia has this warning for parents whose children attend public schools:

Parents need to monitor and mind carefully what is going on in their child’s classroom. They need to ask questions about all activities!

Now for the piece Harriet Crawford wrote for the Daily Mail.

Little girl meditating

  • Theory is that techniques help relieve stress and live for the moment
  • But 60% of us have apparently suffered at least one negative side effect
  • Experts: Shortage of rigorous statistical studies into the negative effects of meditation is a ‘scandal’

Meditation and mindfulness is promoted by celebrities including Gwyneth Paltrow and Russell Brand, who boast of its power to help people put stress out of their minds and live for the moment.

But the treatment can itself trigger mania, depression, hallucinations and psychosis, psychological studies in the UK and US have found.

The practice is part of a growing movement based on ancient Eastern traditions of meditation.

However, 60 % of people who had been on a meditation retreat had suffered at least one negative side effect, including panic, depression and confusion, a study in the US found.

And one in 14 of them suffered ‘profoundly adverse effects’, according to Miguel Farias, head of the brain, belief and behaviour research group at Coventry University and Catherine Wikholm, a researcher in clinical psychology at the University of Surrey.

The shortage of rigorous statistical studies into the negative effects of meditation was a ‘scandal’, Dr Farias told The Times.

He said: ‘The assumption of the majority of both TM [transcendental meditation] and mindfulness researchers is that meditation can only do one good.  ‘This shows a rather narrow-minded view. How can a technique that allows you to look within and change your perception or reality of yourself be without potential adverse effects?

‘The answer is that it can’t, and all meditation studies should assess not only positive but negative effects.’

The British study involved measuring effect of yoga and meditation on prisoners, and its findings were published yesterday in the psychologists’ book, The Buddha Pill: Can Meditation Change You?.

Inmates at seven prisons in the Midlands took 90-minute classes once a week and completed tests to measure their higher cognitive functions in a ten week randomised control trial.

The prisoners’ moods improved, and their stress and psychological distress reduced – but they were found to be just as aggressive before the mindfulness techniques.

If You Want to Destroy Your Church, Follow Liberals’ Advice

(348) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY – RACHEL HELD EVANS 

IF YOU WANT TO DESTROY YOUR CHURCH, FOLLOW LIBERALS’ ADVICE

DAVID FRENCH

May 5, 2015

This past weekend, noted progressive-Christian writer Rachel Held Evans published a widely shared and widely read piece in the Washington Post decrying the Evangelical church’s shallow attempts to appeal to Millennials by trying to make church “cool.”

Ms. Evans critiques hashtag campaigns, young-adult groups with names like “Prime” and “Vertical,” and concert-style worship services. She mocks talk of “market share” and “branding,” and in so doing sounds every bit as traditionalist as those who despise the praise choruses of the typical Evangelical megachurch and long for the simple “old-time religion” of their grandparents.

But that’s not really her point. Evans believes the church shouldn’t reform its style, but rather its substance – by becoming, in essence, traditionally progressive. In other words, keep the ancient styles, but change the ancient beliefs. In a previous article, for CNN, Evans set forth the litany of Millennial demands:

  • We want an end to the culture wars.
  • We want a truce between science and faith.
  • We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.
  • We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.
  • We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.
  • We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.
  • We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

This isn’t a theological statement. It’s a progressive writer’s wish list. Evans’s fervent belief is that the key to unlocking Millennial spiritual energy is found in the old ways – not its actual beliefs, mind you, but the trappings of the faith. To Evans, the answer is combining high-church traditions with no-church theology, because “the ancient forms of liturgy seem so unpretentious, so unconcerned with being ‘cool,’ and we find that refreshingly authentic.”

The faith that will win Millennials, in other words, is standard liberalism — except in a museum setting. It’s the Millennial hipster equivalent of listening to your albums on vinyl, because it just sounds more “real.” And so Evans finds herself in the Episcopal Church, where ancient tradition and liberal trends converge:

My search has led me to the Episcopal Church, where every week I find myself, at age 33, kneeling next to a gray-haired lady to my left and a gay couple to my right as I confess my sins and recite the Lord’s prayer.

It’s about the “inclusiveness,” you see:

This is the inclusivity so many millennials long for in their churches, and it’s the inclusivity that eventually drew me to the Episcopal Church, whose big red doors are open to all — conservatives, liberals, rich, poor, gay, straight and even perpetual doubters like me.

There’s just one problem with this analysis: It turns out that Millennials are not, in fact, longing for the Episcopal experience. Not many people of any age are. What Evans neglects to mention is that the American religious community has been engaging in a decades-long experiment in exactly the kind of spirituality she proposes, and the Mainline churches — those churches that combine the ancient forms of faith with progressive beliefs — are committing slow-motion suicide.

Last summer, the Federalist’s Andrew Griswold noted that liberalization – especially on matters of sexual morality – was the single-best way to shrink your church. The numbers he conveys are startling. Few churches have been more aggressively “inclusive” than the Episcopal Church, yet between 2002 and 2012 it lost 18.4 percent of its members, and its church attendance declined 24.4 percent.

Other “inclusive” churches have seen similar — or worse — declines. President Obama’s denomination, the United Church of Christ (UCC), lost 20.4 percent of its members in the seven years after it voted to recognize same-sex marriage. The UCC is on pace to disappear entirely within 30 years, but it is healthy compared to the Presbyterian Church (USA), which further liberalized its stance on sexuality in 2006 and redefined marriage in 2014. Between 2006 and 2013, the church lost 22.4 percent of its members and is now on pace to disappear entirely by 2037.

The decades-long reality of American spiritual life is the loss of spiritual consensus and the growth of two intellectually and theologically competitive cultural tribes: religious conservatives and secularists. As Griswold notes, culturally conservative churches such as the Assemblies of God and the Mormon Church have enjoyed strong growth. The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is now in the midst of a slight decline, but only after decades of spectacular growth allowed it to eclipse every other Protestant denomination, including every liberal Mainline denomination combined.

Yes, there are liberals who “long” for the church to change. But that’s because they long for it to disappear.

Yes, the “nones” are on the rise as well, with 46 million Americans identifying as religiously unaffiliated, according to the Pew Research Center. But per Pew, these individuals are “not looking for a religion that would be right for them.” (Emphasis in original.) For the moment, they’re not really “longing” for anything from church.

What does all this mean for the American church? In the short–to–medium term, it means more cultural conflict and more cultural division — with only one certain path to extinction: theological liberalization and cultural conformity. Yes, there are liberals who “long” for the church to change. But that’s because they long for it to disappear.

— David French is an attorney and a staff writer for National Review.