Beware The Leaven Coming Into Your Church Curriculum

Colossians 2:8-12 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

Reflecting God is an adult Sunday School journal with daily devotionals written for each month by various writers, prepared by the WordAction company.  It is not only prepared for Nazarenes but also for churches that are in the Wesleyan tradition.  They state that: “WordAction is the world’s leading provider of Wesleyan Sunday School lessons and curriculum for children, youth, and adult Sunday School, as well as a leading provider of small group resources and devotional material for family or personal daily devotional times.”

I have read these lessons many times, and have used this or similar curriculum books in teaching Adult Sunday school classes.  For the most part, it has solid reliable material.  However,  a friend alerted me to this particular lesson, which I had not seen.  I am working on another edition that a good friend also sent me a few months ago to review.  So now its time for a word of warning, and a word of serious caution.  The caution is this: WordAction may possibly be gearing up to slowly start promoting contemplative spirituality practices that are at the core of the spirituality of the emergent church movement.

 Here is an excerpt from the Feb 8 lesson titled Center Down (and for those who don’t understand this yet, I will explain what this means:

“The Quakers quiet their hearts and spirits before God when they gather for worship through a meditative state they call “centering down.”  When they rest in the Lord and “wait” on him, they believe that he will bring understanding, direction, and peace.”

In addition to serving God, Brother Lawrence, the author of the book “The Practice of the Presence of God,” advises that we stay in touch with him.  He said, “There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful, than that of a continual conversation with God.  Those only can comprehend it who practice and experience it.”

This is a blatant promotion of mysticism!  And I point out the elitist-like last sentence that suggests that only those special people who practice and experience contemplative prayer will truly understand God!  This is the mindset of the mystics, that they are special.  My friends, I have come to the point in my last three years researching that anyone using the word EXPERIENCE must at least be scrutinized as to what he means by it when he uses the word!  It more often than not means an experience that is outside the bounds of Scriptural teaching.  Please remember this.  It is essentially a type of experience whose goal is to reach some kind of union with God.  And please note again what they said: “they believe.”  Not, “Scripture says”.

 First of all, the Quakers (Religious Society of Friends) are a religious group that claims to be Christian, and they promote a weird doctrine that we have some sort of “Inner Light” within us.  The founder was George Fox, who at a young adult age, had a strong mystical experience.  He became convinced that “person requires no spiritual intermediary but can receive direct understanding and guidance through one’s own “inward light,” which is supplied by the Holy Spirit.” (Source)  He believed that everyone has a divine spark within them that can respond directly and personally to God. 

The Inner Light, according to respected Quaker author Howard Brinton, “can be reached only by ‘centering down,’ to use an old Quaker phrase: that is, by concentrating our attention on the inward side of life where the soul’s windows open toward the Divine.…” (Brinton, 1953). “Centering down” means turning away from ego-driven pursuits, from selfish individual concerns, and allowing oneself to be moved by a spiritual intelligence greater than one’s everyday consciousness.  (Source: Paths of Learning.net)

Their most famous member today is perhaps Richard Foster, the modern day guru of contemplative spirituality, who believes that anyone (not just Christians) can be a “portable sanctuary for God”; who recommends contemplative prayer but at the same time warns that we need to pray a prayer of protection before participating; and also warns that novices should not do it.

So when they promote centering down, they are promoting a practice that is part and parcel the same as the practices of Eastern mysticism.  Here is a description of the Quakers’ practice of centering down, as explained by the Rev. Sue Annabrooke Jones on her website:

Meeting actually begins when all are joined in that silent “waiting upon God” that the Quakers call “centering down.” With mind and body stilled, members sit in deep contemplative silence together for one hour, each person attuned to his or her own inward light.
During a meeting someone may feel moved to speak. When this happens, it comes from a deep religious experience and a conviction that this experience must be shared. This spoken ministry, which is usually brief and simple, requires no response, and is intended as meditative seed for everyone else in the group. This unique cross-fertilization component distinguishes Quaker meditation from other forms of meditation which, even when practiced in a group, remain ultimately a solo activity.
  (Source: CosmicLotus.org)

Is this a biblically sound practice that belongs now in a Nazarene holiness publication?

And then there is Brother Lawrence. Who is Brother Lawrence?  He was a 17th century monk who “developed a technique–mostly through inspiration and intuition–which leads to results akin to those developed by the continued practice of either Zen or mindfulness meditation.” (Source: Lighthouse Trails)

He was part of the Carmelite Order, which was run by the very contemplative Teresa of Avila, another monastic practictioner who was also influenced by Jewish Kabbalic mysticism.  His “practicing the presence of God” as he coined it leaves much question as to how this can be verified as real or not.  It is not because it is too subjective, and leaves a wide open door for anything to be conjured up in ones imagination.

In his document, “Evangelicals Turning To Catholic Spirituality”, David Cloud describes the epidemic that is racing through the evangelical world, which is one of embracing more and more the monastic Eastern mysticism of the Desert fathers and early “church fathers”, although this clearly does not include the real early church fathers, i.e. the apostles themselves.  You will not find anything close to this that they ever wrote about in Scripture.  However, in this report by Cloud, you will clearly be disturbed by seeing some well known names of today who have favorably promoted some of these practices.  It is what it is, and we have to deal with the facts.

In Scripture, we are told that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump.”  (Gal 5:9).  Satan attacks us from within, after he slips into our churches in disguise, often through the undiscerning and sometimes well meaning minds of many Christians.  I consider this an attack upon the church, even if the rest of this curriculum book is on solid ground.  We cannot allow Satan to grab a foothold in any way in our church literature, just as we cannot allow him to gain a foothold in our universities, churches and pulpits.

So beware, you have been warned to watch what you read, and judge it by the word of God.  Nowhere in Scripture are we taught to “practice the silence” and “wait for God to speak.”   Reflecting God is a wonderful sounding title, but this particular lesson truly does not reflect God, but rather subtly reflects the doctrines of demons being promoted in our denomination today.  Do not tolerate this for one second.  Do not compromise a bit on any of this.  This is being sent to the publishers of WordAction, so that hopefully with this warning, they will take great care that they are not becoming complicit in the infiltration of ungodly teachings in our Christian books.  No excuse will be acceptable for this.  I pray it was a mistake that will not be repeated.  But if so, it will be exposed again for what it is.

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3 responses to “Beware The Leaven Coming Into Your Church Curriculum

  1. This book was handed out to graduating seniors in a Nazarene Church Spring of 2008.

    Excerpt from Google Books description of the book “Streams in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman (Edited by James Reimann):

    In a barren wilderness, L. B. Cowman long ago discovered a fountain that sustained her, and she shared it with the world, Streams in the Desert ® — her collection of prayerful meditations, Christian writings, and God’s written promises–has become one of the most dearly loved, best-selling devotionals of all time since its first publication in 1925.

    http://books.google.com/books/about/Streams_in_the_Desert.html?id=1xb4BJBHYdQC

    Streams in the Desert by LB Cowman

    Pages 255 – 256

    June 30

    I heard a hushed voice. (Job 4:16)

    Some Twenty years ago a friend gave me a book entitled True Peace. It had an old medieval message and this one primary thought – that God was waiting in the depths of my being to speak to me if I would only be still enough to hear His voice.

    I assumed this would not be a difficult thing to do, so I tried to be still. No sooner had I begun to do so than complete pandemonium seemed to break loose. Suddenly I heard a thousand voices and sounds from without and within, until I could hear nothing except these incredible noises. Some were my own words, my own questions, and even my own prayers, while others were temptations of the Enemy, and the voices of the world’s turmoil.

    In every direction I turned, I was pushed, pulled, and confronted with indescribable unrest and overwhelming noises. I seemed compelled to listen to some of them and to respond in some way. But God said, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Then my mind was filled with worries over my responsibilities and plans for tomorrow, and God said again, “Be still.”

    As I listened and slowly learned to obey, I shut my ears to every other sound. Soon I discovered that once the other voices ceased, or once I ceased to hear them, “a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:12) began to speak in the depths of my being. And it spoke to me with an inexpressible tenderness, power, and comfort.

    This “gentle whisper” became for me the voice of prayer, wisdom, and service. No longer did I need to work so hard to think, pray, or trust, because the Holy Spirit’s “gentle whisper” in my heart was God’s prayer in the secret places of my soul. It was His answer to all my questions, and His life and strength for my soul and body. His voice became the essence of all knowledge, prayer, and blessings, for it was the living God Himself as my life and my all.

    This is precisely how our spirit drinks in the life of our risen Lord. And then we are enabled to face life’s conflicts and responsibilities, like a flower that has absorbed the cool and refreshing drops of dew through the darkness of the night. Yet just as dew never falls on a stormy night, the dew of His grace never covers a restless soul. A.B. Simpson

    http://books.google.com/books?id=1xb4BJBHYdQC&pg=PA204&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=3#v=onepage&q&f=false

    June 30 is the day I pulled the book out of the cupboard thinking, “I’d like to have something to read on a daily basis. Maybe this book is ok and I’m just being too hard on all that’s going on in the church. Maybe I should just take it down and see what it says.” Well I read it and it was obvious I wasn’t being too hard and this book needed to go

    I can see why, though, if her experience is normative, that the people who engage in this practice are so adamant about spreading it around and have deaf ears to words that say their experience is not biblical and therefore should not be practiced.

    “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 ESV

  2. Way too often people mistake their own whims, imaginations, and emotions for the Spirit of God, and it’s a dangerous practice that’s growing in evangelicalism.

  3. The age of aquarious is upon us, the age of elightenment. Alice Bailey predicted this day would come, the Cosmic Christ of the new age era. The mystical “other” Jesus, another gospel all together. A strong delusion has flooded the main stream evangelical churches around the world, something well predicted by the Spirit through the Apostle Paul. The apostate Church of Rome is gathering momentum on the world churches stage with a heavy delusion drawing by deceptive magnetism many into the sacraments and (un) holy communion (Eucharist christ) including resurrection of ancient mystical practices from the early 18th century monks and jesuits. The neoevangelical ecumenical gospel of all religions merging is making serious headway all in the name of “just love and emulate the christ spirit. Jesus said to his disciples in Matthew 16 and Luke 9: “Who do people say that I am” and….”who do you say that I am?”. The question was first asked of Peter by Christ nineteen centuries ago, and has continued since then to the present day to be the litmus test of spiritual authenticity. Perhaps never in the history of the Christian church has this question been more relevant than it is today. One reason for this is that New Agers have taken the New Testament sculpture (if you will) of Christ, crafted an esoteric/mystical chisel, and hammered away at this sculpture until a completely new image has been formed.

    http://www.spiritual-research-network.com/m_scott_peck_community_cosmic_christ.html

    http://home.earthlink.net/~ronrhodes/ChristNAM.html

    This new age mystical church in San Diego (Escondido) parrots what is happening in the churches today. As they too heavily favor Thomas Merton and Thomas Keating who both promote centering and new age contemplative prayer esoteric practices, including lectio divina, labyrinth walking, silence and solitude, etc.

    http://questhaven.org/

    Look at the seminaries, the bible is pretty much gutted, its old and outdated and humanism has taken over. The bible is no longer taught in the seminaries as the inherent and inspired word of God. Vain philosophy is blinding the minds of the graduate MDV students who come out completely deluded and brain washed then land high positions in evangelical churches bringing all of their pollution with them, another gospel, another Jesus, IE Spiritual Formation, mystical practices of the desert fathers (as taught by Dallas Willard, Richard Foster, etc.), world evangelization (Perspectives courses IE World Christian Movement/Lusuane Covenent), etc.

    Who is Henrietta Mears? What is the World Christian Movement?
    http://www.a-voice.org/discern/chrstian.htm

    Later in Chapter 16 of Mark Jesus warned his disciples to beware of the leaven of the saducees and pharisees and that a little leaven leavens the whole lump. Who (what) group or persons would Jesus say to beware of today? We as bible only Christians need to “test all things” against the Holy Word of God and pray earnestly for discernment so that we know how and what to “beware” of. Jesus said we are not left as orphans in this world and the Helper (the Holy Spirit)…the Spirit of Truth will guide us into all truth. Keep up the good work, shining the light of Jesus Christ on the dark and deceptive teachings from the doctrines of demons.

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