The Emergent Church, New Age Movement, and Contemplative Spirituality
In the book of Jeremiah, the prophet wrote:
“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters,
And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water.” ( Jeremiah 2:13 – NKJV)
A broken cistern not only cannot hold water, but it can become stagnant and contaminated. Why would the people of God do such a thing? The answer is that they did not wish to accept God’s conditions for partaking of His blessings. Thus, they set out to establish a source to satisfy their spiritual thirst that had no such conditions attached.
The same thing has occurred in these last days before the darkness of the Antichrist kingdom completely envelopes the world. Professing Christians abandoned their intimacy with God because they did not want to meet His conditions for fellowship. They became distracted and as a result lost their wonder of Him. However, they went a step further and began to compare their spiritual destitution to the satanic spirituality of paganism. They reasoned that because they were spiritually deficient, the Christianity must therefore be spiritually deficient as well. Instead of repenting and turning back to God, they flocked to the broken cisterns of paganism.
At first, an attempt was made to retain their Christian identity, but some have even abandoned that form of godliness. The result of their foray into the darkness is the Emergent Church. It would be better named the Merging Church because it is in fact a calculated and decisive merger with the New Age Movement.
The articles in this section of TruthKeepers expose the error of this attempt to glean spirituality from the “broken cisterns” of paganism. The means by which the merger is being accomplished is Contemplative Spirituality and Spiritual Formation.
At the present, Contemplative Spirituality, and its main component Contemplative Prayer, is being accepted and promoted by the most popular individuals in Christianity. Nearly every denomination is attempting to introduce this pagan ritual to its ministers and through them into congregations. In fact, Christianity is deteriorating from the top down. In one section I present information concerning the invasion of Contemplative Prayer into the leadership of the Assemblies of God, a denomination I was formerly ordained with. When confronted with this error, the guilty leaders claim that Contemplative Prayer is an ancient Christian tradition. This is simply not true. It is ancient, but Contemplative Prayer has its roots in pagan religion.
Contemplative Prayer was introduced into Christianity by Thomas Merton. Merton became a Buddhist while retaining his status as a Roman Catholic monk. His reason for seeking spirituality from Buddhism is the same reason that Israel rejected the fountain of living waters and built broken cisterns. It is the same reason that many modern professing Christians are merging with the New Age Movement. Merton wrote that he had realized neither he nor his religion had enough spirituality to fan the flames of religious passion. However, he noticed that the Buddhists appeared to have an abundance of spirituality. He made the same mistake as Israel. Instead of repenting and returning to God, he gravitated to the “broken cisterns” of Buddhism.
Someone might challenge my statement that Merton was not a spiritual individual. However, by his own admission he was so unspiritual that he viewed Buddhism as having more spirituality. In such a decrepit spiritual state, Merton was unqualified to make the decision that a pagan religion had more to offer than God. To correct that glaring aberration, Merton simply proclaimed God Almighty as the same god that Buddhist worship. At that point, he blasphemed God and became a heretic and false teacher. Merton said:
“I see no contradiction between Buddhism and Christianity … I intend to become as good a Buddhist as I can.” (David Steindl-Rast, “Recollection of Thomas Merton’s Last Days in the West” )
To understand how fully leading Christians have accepted Merton’s heresy, one only has to consider the many leading Christians that promote his book on Contemplative Prayer. The foreword in Merton’s book entitled Contemplative Prayer was written by the Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. Amazingly, the book is actually being offered for sale on Christianbook.com and other Christian book sellers! Merton’s book is used by pagans and Christians with no distinction at all. In fact, Ray Yungen points out in his book, A Time of Departing, that Thomas Merton could quite possibly be the greatest influence in the New Age Movement. That he is also a major influence in Christianity is indicative of the anemic and decaying spiritual condition of most professing Christians.
Professing Christians, especially Roman Catholics, revere Merton for his decision to incorporate Buddhism into Christianity. However, the message that God consistently delivers to backslidden people is “Repent and return”. Merton and his protégés in the Emergent Church insist that the way back to God is through the maze of paganism. They declare that their “broken cisterns” are the same as the fountain of living water. If that were the case, then the Bible should never have been written and there would be no reason for Christ to die. Emergent Church/New Age/Apostate Christians agree. Be on guard, fellow believers! Your faith is under a vicious attack and it is going to get worse.
C. H. Fisher – TrithKeepers
“This is one of the huge problems with the traditional understanding of hell, because if the Cross is in line with Jesus’ teaching, then I won’t say the only and I certainly won’t say … or even the primary or a primary meaning of the Cross … is that the Kingdom of God doesn’t come like the kingdoms of this world by inflicting violence and coercing people. But that the kingdom of God comes thru suffering and willing voluntary sacrifice right? But in an ironic way the doctrine of hell basically says no, that’s not really true. At the end God gets his way thru coercion and violence and intimidation and uh domination just like every other kingdom does. The Cross isn’t the center then, the Cross is almost a distraction and false advertising for God.” (Brian McLaren, Emergent Church leader)
“The best of scriptural interpretation is about looking at the whole document and the direction in which it is moving rather than pulling out pieces that point to your point of view or prejudice,” she said. “When Christians read their scripture that way, they have much more fruitful conversations with Muslims, Buddhists and Sikhs who read their scripture that way.”
There are some remarkable examples of that kind of blindness in the readings we heard this morning, and slavery is wrapped up in a lot of it. Paul is annoyed at the slave girl who keeps pursuing him, telling the world that he and his companions are slaves of God. She is quite right. She’s telling the same truth Paul and others claim for themselves. But Paul is annoyed, perhaps for being put in his place, and he responds by depriving her of her gift of spiritual awareness. Paul can’t abide something he won’t see as beautiful or holy, so he tries to destroy it. It gets him thrown in prison. That’s pretty much where he’s put himself by his own refusal to recognize that she, too, shares in God’s nature, just as much as he does – maybe more so! The amazing thing is that during that long night in jail he remembers that he might find God there – so he and his cellmates spend the night praying and singing hymns. (Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop of the Episcopalian Church)
“The Bible is an f***king scary book (pardon my French, but that’s the only way I know how to convey how strongly I feel about this).” (Tony Jones, Emergent Church leader)