Category Archives: Occult Practices

Psychology And The Source Of Knowledge About The Human Soul

Lady Reading BiblePsychology makes my blood boil, especially when people try to integrate it with Christianity! Although commonly considered a science, the discipline actually is comprised of theories that haven’t been proven (and really don’t lend themselves to scientific verification). The vast majority of the theories incorporate acceptance of evolution, humanism and occult ideas.

Over the past 40 years, evangelicals have embraced psychology as an augmentation to pastoral ministry, assuming that the Bible falls short of addressing the mental and emotional needs of humans. That assumption should make the hair on the back of your neck bristle! Essentially, “Christian” psychology boldly declares God’s Word to be impotent, while at the same time more than implying that psychologists and licensed counselors possess a special knowledge inaccessible to those of us who “merely” read the Bible.

The attitude that psychologists have a deeper understanding of human nature than the Holy Spirit (Who, after all, authored the Bible) smacks of modern-day Gnosticism.

To grasp the significance of equating psychology with Gnosticism, let me briefly review the basic premise of Gnosticism, and the apostle Paul’s response to it. In the late First Century and early Second Century, Gnostics taught that they held special knowledge over and above what most Christians had. Access to that knowledge required initiation into their group, but promised deeper wisdom into life’s mysteries.

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul argued that Christ alone is the Source of wisdom. Notice how directly he made his claim in the following paragraph.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. ~~Colossians 2:1-5 (ESV)

Look carefully at verse 3. Wisdom and knowledge, in their entirety, are hidden in Christ, not in philosophical systems developed by people like Freud (an atheist influenced by Charles Darwin) and Jung (who depended on a demonic spirit called Philemon). And Christ gladly reveals Himself through Scripture.

The Apostle Peter insists further that knowing the Lord Jesus Christ gives us everything we  need to navigate through life.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. ~~2 Peter 1:3-4 (ESV)

Remembering that the Lord gives us knowledge of Himself through His Word, this passage in 2 Peter clearly teaches that we simply don’t need the special knowledge that psychology pretends to offer us. Not only can we pass up this modem-day Gnosticism by standing on the sufficiency of Scripture, we have an obligation to do just that!

Psychology may appear erudite and sophisticated because of it’s claims to understand the inner workings of the human soul, but Christians have access to the One Who created that soul. Why should we waste our time on foolish human philosophy when the Bible is right there, ready to provide all the answers we need?

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Saturday Sampler: March 19 — March 25

Flower SamplerContinuing her series in Growing 4 Life, Leslie A. writes Learn to Discern: Who Do You Follow? She raises several important points that women should seriously consider as we pray to develop our discernment .

Unbelief doesn’t need one more miracle says Jennifer at One Hired Late in the Day. I’d been considering writing a similar article, but I really couldn’t improve on hers. If you want a solid explanation of the doctrine of justification, Jennifer’s blog post certainly gives it clearly.

“Authentic” seems to be the latest buzzword among evangelicals. In Has “Be Authentic” Replaced “Be Holy”? Rebekah Womble explains what postmodern people mean by authenticity, contrasting their understanding of the characteristic with the holiness that Christ calls us to practice.

Dinitatians typically believe in the Father and the Son, but not the Holy Spirit. In his blog post, Are Cessationists Dinitatians? Eric Davis of The Cripplegate refutes the popular notion that non-Charismatics don’t believe in the Holy Spirit. I love his list of 20 things Cessationists believe about the Holy Spirit.

Do you sometimes wonder what you should pray in praying for your pastor? Steve Altroggie, blogging on The Blazing Center, enumerates 8 Prayers You Should Regularly Pray For Your Pastor to offer us good direction in the matter.

John Ellis’ article, How NOT to Argue Online in adayinhiscourt convicted me. But it also encouraged me in arguing my case in ways that honor the Lord .

Responding to one of Beth Moore’s recent Tweets, Elizabeth Prata writes How does the Holy Spirit lead us? in her blog, The End Time. Her essay is lengthy, admittedly (and perhaps could have been broken into two separate ones), but her point is so crucial to Christian women that I strongly recommend it as essential reading.

In Don’t Get Your Theology from Movies, Michelle Lesley explains why even Movie Subscription Services that advertise themselves as Christian fail at helping us negotiate life’s issues. I’ve never seen anyone address this matter quite this comprehensively before, but Michelle does an excellent job.

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Promise From God Or Baptized Divination?

Arriving at the conference, I enjoyed the anticipation. The year before, I’d met Shane (not his real name). Shane and I shared an interest in ex-gay ministry as well as ministry to people living with AIDS, but we also both enjoyed writing. During the year leading up to this conference, he initiated a lively correspondence, often sending me samples of the book he had started writing about how God prepared Christians for marriage. Of course, he’d won my heart.
My attendant/roommate and I entered our dorm room to find a tiny scroll, artfully tied with a green ribbon, placed on each of our pillows. She unrolled mine for me, revealing “A Scripture Promise For The Week.”

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland. ~~Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

I knew (intellectually) that I should resist the urge to interpret the “Scripture Promise” as assurance that my long history of romantic disappointment had ended, but Shane did things that week (and afterward) to further kindle my hopes. I’ll spare you the messy details of how my history with Shane played out, and  say only that the “new thing” in verse 19 had absolutely nothing to do with my romantic desires.

That memory comes to mind as I think about the narcissism in contemporary evangelical circles. Interestingly, when I read Isaiah 43 during my Quiet Time all these years later, I keep its historical context, as well as its prophetic intent in mind. Isaiah prophesied about two events: the Jews’ release from the Babylonian Captivity and (ultimately) the Messianic kingdom. Back in that dorm room during the conference, I turned that broad promise to Israel and the Church about God’s glorious plan for His collective people into a horoscope-like prediction tailored to my  selfish aspirations.

Most present-day evangelicals play similar games with God’s Word, I’m sorry to say. To a very large extent, pastors, teachers and   Christian books encourage us to privatize God’s Word into personal promises that spin far away from God’s main point. Yes, He guides us through Scripture’s principles–even in terms of selecting a spouse–but He most certainly doesn’t want us  wrenching fragments out of context as if the  Bible lends itself to some sort of baptized divination.

As I’ve been reading through the Old Testament these past few years, the Holy Spirit has shown me that I must read it at face  value rather than digging around for personal intimations. I may learn from His dealings with Israel, particularly as  I see my rebellion as a mirror image of theirs. I may see His call to holiness and apply it. But when  I make His promises to them for His kingdom into allegories about my personal fulfillment, I err. And I forget that Scripture revolves around Him!

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Saturday Sampler: February 26 — March 4

cross-sampler-02Commenting on something she read in The New York Times, Elizabeth Prata has an essay in  The End Time discussing Practical magic’s resurgence that I believe is worth your attention.

In Learn to Discern: The Corruption of Christianity (the latest in a series in Growing 4 Life), Leslie A. shares an essay by her brother,  Pastor Dean. Dean examines six popular trends which have dangerously weakened the visible church.

Once again, Rebekah Womble knocks it out of the park on her blog, Wise In His Eyes. This time, I recommend her blog post, Women, Don’t Feed on Fluff for its Scriptural guidelines on discerning whether an author or teacher is worth our time (and money).

As Reformed Christians commemorate this 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, we must consider the differences between us and Roman Catholics. Blogging for The Cripplegate, Jordan Standridge asks Which Jesus does your Roman Catholic friend believe in? This post offers helpful guidelines for witnessing to Catholic friends and family.

Michael J. Krueger has been writing a series for Canon Fodder. His latest installment, Taking Back Christianese #8: “It’s Not My Place to Judge Someone Else”, takes on the common misapplication of Matthew 7:1.

Lisa Morris of Conforming to the Truth cautions us about The Upside Down Truth About Quick Bible Devotions. Ladies, we can do better.

Are you observing Lent this year? If so, Michelle Lesley lists 40 Things to Give Up for Lent as an encouragement to think Biblically about the season. If you wonder why (after writing so strongly against observing Lent Tuesday) I’ve included her article on this Saturday Sampler, read what she has to say.

Even through Brian Lee’s article, Repent of Lent: How Spiritual Disciplines Can Be Bad For Your Soul, appeared in The Federalist three years ago, it raises points about the practice that mustn’t be overlooked. Perhaps this is the most Biblical treatment of Lent I’ve read so far.

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Proudly Discerning

Bible contextHave you ever noticed that women in particular like to claim that they possess the gift of discernment? I can remember, during my years in Charismatic circles, various women pronouncing judgments on “spiritual forces,” usually with a knowing nod and a solemn expression. Typically, they insisted that the Holy Spirit had given them a special revelation.

I envied their evident abilities to peer into the spirit world. My unquestioning respect for them influenced me to blindly accept whatever declarations they made. I remember one “discerning” friend warning me to avoid a neighbor of mine because my neighbor had a “demonic look in her eyes.” Of course, in retrospect I realize that my neighbor wore extremely thick glasses that magnified her eyes and gave them a slightly glazed appearance. But at the time, I submitted to my friend’s “discernment,” trusting that God had given her special insight that I needed to heed.

That wasn’t discernment. That was spiritual pride. In essence, Charismatics who profess to have gifts of discernment generally demonstrate a gnostic attitude.

In the article, What is Christian Gnosticism, GotQuestions.org writes:

Gnostics claim to possess an elevated knowledge, a “higher truth” known only to a certain few. Gnosticism comes from the Greek word gnosis which means “to know.” Gnostics claim to possess a higher knowledge, not from the Bible, but acquired on some mystical higher plane of existence. Gnostics see themselves as a privileged class elevated above everybody else by their higher, deeper knowledge of God.

Admittedly, “discernment bloggers” in Reformed circles have struggles with spiritual pride too, often supposing that we understand Scripture more than “average” Christians. In one respect, we may be partially right. Biblical illiteracy among evangelicals has reached epidemic proportions, resulting in decidedly undiscerning behavior and beliefs. But, like our Charismatic counterparts, we fall into the assumption that we have superior knowledge of God’s Word.

Yet Charismatics err because their “discernment” comes as an addition to Scripture, rather than an understanding of Scripture. While those of us in the Reformed camp must have the humility to remember that any discernment we may have is readily available to all believers, Charismatics must repent of regarding discernment as an extrabiblical gift that manifests itself in similar ways to psychic powers.

The Lord most assuredly wants His people to exercise discernment. Hebrews 5:14 equates discernment with Christian maturity. But such maturity comes through knowing God’s Word and handling it properly, not by Christian gnosticism.  All of us hold a responsibility to study God’s Word and apply it humbly, praising Him for giving us all the wisdom we need in its pages.

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Book Review: Another Jesus Calling

another-jesus-callingWarren B. Smith of Lighthouse Trails, himself a  convert to Christ after heavy involvement in New Age philosophy and practice, wrote Another Jesus Calling: How False Christs Are Entering the Church Through Contemplative Prayer. For the most part, the book successfully critiques Sarah Young’s popular but heretical book Jesus Calling. I wanted to better equip myself to address Young’s false teaching, so I approached Smith’s book with great eagerness.

In one respect, Another Jesus Calling disappointed me, largely because it lacked focus and repeated many points unnecessarily. Smith went off on tangents about other New Age teachers, leaving me a bit frustrated. I wanted to read about Sarah Young’s book,  not about teachers that don’t even claim to be Christians. At points, I almost literally felt my eyes glaze over as I waded through passages about Smith’s pre-Christian experiences with meditation and self-deification. Although his comparisons of Jesus Calling to New Age ideas were necessary to Smith’s thesis, he prolonged them so much that they ended up distracting me.

In short, Smith’s writing skills need work.

Having voiced my problems with Another Jesus Calling, allow me to say that the book did supply many helpful examples of how Sarah Young presents a false Christianity that actually leads readers into New Age beliefs. In Chapter 2, for instance, Smith lists several terms that Young repeatedly employs throughout her book.

So much of God Calling is permeated with metaphysical/New Age terminology and thinking. The following is just a sampling of the occult/New Age terms that continually jump out at the reader—Universal Spirit, Supreme Being, Divine Powers, Great Divine Heart, Divine Forces, Spirit Forces, God-Power,spiritual plane, channels, Spirit-consciousness, heart-consciousness, Spirit Sounds, Spirit-communication, Divine Mind, Secret of Prosperity, Law of Supply, Law of Discipleship, Sonship, spiritual level, path of initiation, order out of chaos, soul-balance, oneness, and many others.

As Smith points out, none of these terms is Biblical. Yet Young claims that she has written down words that Jesus spoke directly to her. I join Smith in finding it curious that Jesus would choose New Age vernacular over the terminology He used in His Word. These phrases should alert Christian readers that there’s something dreadfully wrong with Young’s writing.

Smith demonstrates (using the King James Version) that Sarah Young’s counterfeit Jesus contrasts with the true Jesus by elevating his presence over Scripture.

The true Jesus Christ tells us: Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)

God is always present with us—a presence that will never be magnified above His Word. If we choose to put experiencing God’s presence above His Word, we are leaving ourselves open and vulnerable to the visits of a counterfeit presence.

For the “Jesus” of Jesus Calling, experiencing His presence is everything. This is his invitation:

Open yourself to My loving Presence, so that I may fill you with My fullness. I want you to experience how wide and long and high and deep is My Love for you, so that you can know My Love that surpasses knowledge. This vast ocean of Love cannot be measured or explained, but it can be experienced.

Taste and see that I am good. This command contains an invitation to experience My living Presence. It also contains a promise. The more you experience Me, the more convinced you become of My goodness.

Notice that Sarah Young’s Jesus never encourages people to look for Him in the Word of God? For Young, Scripture lacks sufficiency to give us everything we need for living godly lives (1 Timothy 3:15-16, 2 Peter 1:3-4). In addition, the emphasis on experiencing his presence allows people to imagine him any way they want. The true Jesus gives us His Word, expecting us to discern Who He is  from what is written.

If you want good writing, Another Jesus Calling will probably disappoint you. But if you need evidence that Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling contradicts Scripture, I highly recommend that  you read Smith’s book and carefully consider his points. Please make sure that you listen to the Jesus of the Bible rather than a New Age imposter.

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The Labyrinth And The Narrow Way

narrow-wayBeing inept at face-to-face evangelism, I admit to handling things poorly when I spotted the man drawing the labyrinth on Boston Common last week. I’ve been seeing those odious things littering the Common all year, and have felt anger at these symbols of mysticism and contemplative prayer. So I opened the conversation declaring, “That’s disgusting!”

Maybe not the best opening line. As I said, face-to-face evangelism isn’t my forte.

Nevertheless, it opened the conversation, in which he insisted he wasn’t a pagan (I never said he was) and that he was a Christian (I never said he wasn’t). I kept pleading with him, “You don’t have to do this! Jesus died so you could pray directly to God!”

Finally, he looked directly at me to ask, “And how do you pray?” I began telling him how I go straight to God, adoring Him for His attributes and  confessing my sins…at which point the man interrupted to pronounce, “Your God is too narrow!”

At that moment John joined me and took the lead. Sadly the guy had no interest in interaction with John, despite the fact that John’s much more winsome than I’ll ever be, and he dismissed us quickly.

I’ve since thought about his accusation that “my” God  is too narrow. In his mind, narrowness is a negative quality. Like many others I’ve witnessed to over the years, he expected me to feel shamed by the word “narrow.”

To the world, spirituality should broadly encompass everything (except, of course Biblical Christianity). People of the world celebrate inclusiveness, certain that God accepts people on their self-prescribed terms. And hey, that view of God sounds really nice! Sadly, however, that view diminishes the Lord to a mushy Being Who adapts Himself to our personal preferences. Worse, we believe in our own divinity, which practices like the labyrinth can help us  discover.

Jesus made it clear that following Him and receiving salvation actually requires narrowness. Look at His words near the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount:

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. ~~Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)

To clarify this statement, Jesus later told His disciples:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ~~John 14:6 (ESV)

Talk about narrow! These claims really go against everything that tolerant, broad minded people want to believe. To believe that salvation comes exclusively through the Lord Jesus Christ places us under His authority, and consequently means that we must worship Him on His terms rather than our own. And we don’t like that idea.

But narrowness also offers protection. When I had surgery to loosen my leg muscles as a teenager, I had casts on both legs for six weeks. Those casts confined me to bed when I otherwise would have been enjoying the summer driving my power wheelchair  around town with my puppy.  But they also protected my muscles from healing improperly (and undoubtedly kept me out of trouble).

Spiritually, the Lord’s narrowness protects us from false teaching and demonic influences. Although the broad way appears more enjoyable, it actually keeps us from teachings that would damage our souls. The Lord, being more knowledgeable than we are regarding spiritual forces, confines us to Himself and His plan of worship to guard us against destructive practices that we can’t understand.

So yes, “my” God is, in one sense, narrow. But if anyone expects me to feel shame over His narrowness, I must disappoint them.

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