(405) EMERGING TRENDS IN THE CHURCH TODAY: What U Need to Know About Breathing? (Part 1)
C&MA, ROB BELL, RICHARD ROHR and MYSTICISM
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BREATHING (Part 1):
For several years now, ROB BELL has been promoting RICHARD ROHR’s books and material heavy laden with MYSTICISM. With Rob “no Hell” Bell’s views about Hell and his strong leaning towards UNIVERSALISM, many within the Christian and Missionary Alliance Chruch (C&MA) along with many Evangelical Churches have moved away from Bell’s teachings, books, videos…etc.
The IRONY of all of this is that there is a great deal of exposure to Roman Catholic mystic Richard Rohr in the C&MA denomination through their seminary, colleges, professors, and graduates who go on to become pastors in churches across the country. Bell and Rohr, show up together at events spreading their brand of mysticism to an unsuspecting audience. So, ding, ding – in an indirect way, the many within the C&MA who promote Richard Rohr are being exposed to Robert Bell (dare say, they are promoting Robert Bell indirectly to their students, church congregants …etc.).
Let’s think this through from a high level – the C&MA is an evangelical church with foundational doctrines which differs significantly and fundamentally from Roman Catholicism. Going back to the Reformation, and the contentious relationship ever since, there are definite differences between Protestant/Evangelical theology and Roman Catholicism. While both sides of the debate will argue who is more correct, in a nutshell, Roman Catholicism emphasizes the church at an equal level to the Bible and presents a man-made works based system as opposed to the Protestant view which holds God’s word, the Scriptures as the ultimate authority. Protestants emphasize a grace-based relationship with God. With the emphasis on the church, it is no surprise that someone like the Roman Catholic mystic Richard Rohr, engage in many practices that don’t necessarily come out from the Bible but rather are based on early church tradition.
A significant problem arises when one participates in practices that have no biblical foundation but are instead very similar or in fact, identical to other philosophies, faiths, religions…..etc. While many of these practices attempt to replicate what some early church fathers and ancient Roman Catholic traditions have done, when compared to Scripture, we find no solid justification for their use today.
This can result in several adverse effects on the participant, the church…etc., not the least of which, it moves one further away from a close relationship with the one true God and instead opens one up to outside spiritual influences. When dressed up with spiritual sounding descriptions, these practices give the image of religious ceremony or of an intimate spirituality but in reality may not be biblical. When branded in religious sounding jargon, the subtleness of this experience makes it very difficult to realize that one is moving in this direction. The most important source for truth in measuring these experiences and practices is relying on what God has already said in his Word. The Bible is the source of truth and should be used to measure what these other practices are promoting (2 Tim. 3:16). Experience can be based on factors such as tradition, emotion, the popularity of certain practices in the church…etc. However, if not based on Scripture, false teaching can be introduced into the church or one’s personal walk.
So, today Rob Bell has NOT faded from the scenery. He is still writing books, participate in speaking engagements, touring across the country and has paired up with Oprah Winfrey (who’s beliefs have spanned the range of philosophies and religions including the New Age) on her network to do a show aired on Sunday mornings.
Even more concerning, Rob Bell is increasingly promoting mysticism and has teamed up with Richard Rohr on several occasions to do just that. Rob Bell has just posted a video in which he instructs his audience on breathing. Yes, breathing, and it has been titled “What you need to know about breathing”. In the video, Bell uses words and phrases commonly found in mystical religions as well as Roman Catholic monasticism, Emerging Church and “Evangelical mysticism”. Does he use Scripture to teach his concepts on the video or see if you hear words such as “energy”, “grounding”, “centering”, “breathing”, “inhale/exhale”, “great traditions of the church”, “mystical”, “meditation”, “deep”,….etc. With mysticism, variations of the word “DEEP is commonly used to describe these practices. Take a look at these brief video with Rob Bell explaining breathing –
Being a mystic Rohr’s main claim to fame is as “a leading guru of corrupt Counter Reformation CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY/MYSTICISM (CSM), which incontrovertibly grew under ROMAN CATHOLICISM”. (web-based source)
“The crowning achievement with CSM is a form of meditation in an altered state of consciousness known as CONTEMPLATIVE / CENTERING PRAYER (CCP) i.e. transcendental meditation lightly sprayed with Christian terms.”
A few years ago, Rob Bell had begun recommending Richard Rohr’s book Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer (EB), which is all about CCP.
Bell finally came out as a mystic in 2009 in a sermon. In that sermon Bell opined:
It’s interesting how many traditions (pause) When you read the great enlightened ones; meditation, centering prayer, reflection—in every tradition you can find the mystics—and what’s always at the heart of the spiritual lives, the everyday lives of the great ones was always a period of time.
Whether it’s prayers, chanting, meditation, reflection, study—whatever you call it—what is it essentially; it’s taking time to breathe. Because when you’ve been breathing, (slight pause) in a proper sort of way, you’re far better equipped to handle what life throws your way.1
When you consider the adverse influence of Richard Rohr, it’s not a real surprise that Rob Bell would be among those who believe that the mystics, in whatever religion mind you, are to be considered “the great enlightened ones.”
In EB, Richard Rohr muses this myth:
The people who know God well—the mystics, the hermits, those who risk everything to find God—always meet a lover, not a dictator. God is never found to be an abusive father or a tyrannical mother, but always a lover who is more than we dared hope for. How different than the “account manager” that most people seem to worship. God is a lover who receives and forgives everything.2
This is a clear description of the spiritual deception these mystics open themselves up to. Translation: I find the god that I want to worship made in my own image; and notice it’s “the mystics” who supposedly “know God well.”
“Like all neo-gonostics Richard Rohr makes no real distinction concerning religions, which is why such as these are listening to what mystics of whatever stripe say.
In other words, we’re being told that these mystics have “more” understanding of God through their
meditation in altered states of consciousness than we poor mere second class citizens do with only our Scriptures. (K. Silva)
Which now brings us around to the following segment below from the Fighting for the Faith program of Christian apologist Chris Rosebrough on Pirate Christian Radio. You’ll hear Rob Bell talking about his Christology.
As he does he reveals his ownsinful ecumenicism and mysticism:
Over the years, spending time at the Dominican center, here in town; and reading Richard Rohr and Ronald Rolheiser…and finding in the Catholic Jesus a sacramental imagination…[a profound respect of the Eucharist] and what it is that brings us together—an integration—of my soul, and my heart, and my body, and nature, a-and a Jesus who brought it all together; instead of constantly dividing it apart.
Not a Jesus of components and pieces; but a Jesus who wove it all together and was fine [a holistic Jesus]…was fine, [he] could take all of me; was fine, I met the mystic Jesus.
(15:52-15:59; 17:03-17:08; 17:-48-18:10; 18:18-18:22)
There’s no “Catholic” or “mystic Jesus”, there’s only Christ Jesus of Nazareth. The point is, you can see that Rob Bell—through prolonged exposure to, and practice of, Rohr’s CSM teachings—radically changed; for the worse.
(Silva continued) Back in 2009 I showed you Richard Rohr: Roman Catholicism And Christian Universalism. That’s the eventual fetid fruit of CSM. So is it really any wonder that Rohr’s disciple Rob Bell would come to his Love Wins mythology.
Closing this out, the video clip below comes from an appearance by Rob Bell in April of 2011 at the spiritual black hole Winnetka Congregational Church in Winnetka, IL. Bell was introduced by pastrix Jennifer Gleichauf.3
The acoustics in the room caused quite a bit of echo so a transcription follows the clip. It’s quite telling as
Bell again talks about the evil influence of neo-gnostic Richard Rohr and other apostate Roman Catholics upon him:
From the video (not included here):
Audience member: [I’d like to know the] the Catholic Church has influenced your walk with the Lord? Catholic thinkers?
Rob Bell: How the Catholic Church has influenced my walk with the Lord? Which I’m sensing… (laughter)
Audience member: (laughing) Half of the Catholic clergy were wondering. (laughter)
Bell: Um, I don’t even know if I’ve ever told this story. Our church grew quite quickly and became a very awkward, interesting place for my wife to go to church, because a normal church experience became sort of impossible for her.
Because, she’s sort of introverted and the people who would stop her and she really went through a struggle where she was like, “When I go there, all of these people sort of attach and want something…” and it was a very, very traumatic thing to start a church and realize that it didn’t work for your wife to go there.
And there was a Dominican center near our house, and she started going there for classes in spiritual direction. And it absolutely changed her and transformed her at a key moment in our lives. And so she’s like, “Rob, there’s this school sister of Notre Dame there who’s a spiritual director and you’ve gotta go meet with her.”
So I started meeting with her and from there, was taken into a whole world of Ronald Rolheisers and Richard Rohrs and, um, absolutely transformed me. My understandings of incarnation, the centrality of the Eucharist, um, the world is good, um…
So I am extraordinarily indebted. And, I even, when people talk, well “there’s Catholics and then there’s Christians”… I think they’re all followers of Jesus.
So, you can see how Rob Bell has been influenced by Roman Catholic mysticism as he and his wife follow after SPIRITUAL DIRECTORS, the centrality of the Eucharist, engaging in mysticism and moving further from the church, the Bible….etc. Enough for now, let’s look at the mystical concept of using breathing techniques in more detail in Part 2.