A Walk To Death In The Church

2 Tim. 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

“Who am I?  How do I find what I am passionate about?  What is my purpose on earth?  We are seeking a spiritual path we can follow with our entire being; with our hearts and our souls; our minds, and our bodies.  But in order to find that sacred path, we must first find the stillness which will allow us to listen, to let the spirit in, as we search for answers.”

Beautiful words, are they not?  Perhaps its the start of a good biblical devotional that answers those questions, that gives us the answer to what our “sacred path” is.  A message that leads us through the scriptures and points to the God of the Bible, and to the all sufficient answer we find in Jesus Christ, and the guidance we find through the Holy Spirit.

Sorry, these words are at the beginning of a four minute video (Introduction to Re-Discovering The Labyrinth), that describes a path that can lead to hell.  It is a path of paganism, the kind we are warned about in Isaiah.  It is a path that is antithetical to the word of God, and to the biblical principles of the Church of the Nazarene and any other denomination that claims to be a Bible believing church.  The spirit these words speak of is not the Holy Spirit of the Trinity, but another spirit, an unholy spirit.  It is a pagan practice that is being used, and is apparently now accepted, in many churches and universities of the Church of the Nazarene.  The only question I still ask every day is, why.

“You, LORD, have abandoned your people,  the descendants of Jacob.  They are full of superstitions from the East;  they practice divination like the Philistines and embrace pagan customs.” (Isaiah. 2:6)

The woman in the video, the Rev. Doctor Lauren Artress is the person most singularly responsible for helping spread the practice of the labyrinth in the U.S.  She has ties to Professor Doug Hardy of Nazarene Theological Seminary.  Both are members of the highly interspiritual and ecumenical organization Spiritual Directors International.  Dr. Hardy’s bio on the site says that “Doug’s fundamental calling is to come alongside others to help facilitate their alignment with God.”  Dr. Hardy as I reported in a previous post also taught a class this past Spring that promoted occultic Christianity.  And Dr. Ron Benefiel, current (and outgoing) president of the seminary, is a member of KC Trinity Church that actively uses a prayer labyrinth and also teaches the Eastern religion practice of yoga every week.  Others have disappeared after they came under scrutiny, which I can’t understand.  If they are proud of what they are doing, why hide it after being found out?

 If you decide at this point to stop reading this, maybe its not that important to you.  However, if you do ignore this, rest assured that the problem is not going away.  You can decide to face it now, or face it later.  If you know that prayer labyrinths are pagan practices that have no part in any Bible believing church, how can you let this go unnoticed?  And what about other related practices, such as “the silence”, lectio divina, centering prayer, prayer stations, Stations of the Cross, prayer beads or ropes, ashes to the forehead?

 One of the questions I asked the General Superintendents was whether they thought practices such as this are in accord with scripture.  They know what a prayer labyrinth is by now.  They probably know that Trevecca Nazarene University has used one for years, and still does. Yet, my questions in them asking for guidance, in accord with their responsibilities to the Church of the Nazarene, have gone unanswered for months.  Instead, all I have received are responses with no specific answers, from leaders who are charged with the duty to interpret the doctrines of the church.  I must be honest, they have disappointed me very much.  And I am not the only one who has asked these questions.  Yet it seems that the answers for all the others who have asked is anything but a real answer. 

 But as far as getting answers, have you asked yourself why?  Why won’t the General Superintendents give a specific answer on something like this?  Why won’t some pastors tell us whether this practice is good, or bad?  Why do we get responses that are political in nature, that never answer the question, and seem to have been written by a lawyer?

 In two frustrating years, I have asked questions, and gotten nothing back, except words that… said nothing.  I’ll soon be posting my correspondence with the leadership and you will see what I mean. You would think that faithful members of the church, who are concerned- truly concerned- about its direction, deserve answers.  But here we are, feeling like we are being asked to shut up and stop complaining.  We are now more often than not being characterized as mean, un-Christ like, dividers.  But all we are trying to do is simply get an answer.

 The Nazarene denomination in North America has lost 11,000 in attendance since the last four years, not 10,000 as I thought.  That figure was reported by Dr. Broadbooks at the M11 Conference.  While I cannot tell you how much of that total is attributed to the emergent church invasion, I can tell you that in every single email or letter I have received in the last two years that talked about leaving or thinking of leaving the church, they all referenced emergent church ideology, Roman Catholic practices, or pastors who don’t believe in God’s word.

After you watch the video, ask yourself these questions:

1. Did I get a check in my spirit that something is not totally right with this?

2. How does following the steps of a prayer labyrinth have anything to do with Jesus Christ, and is this adding to the all-sufficiency of relying on Him and His finished work on the Cross, thus diminishing His work?

3. Will I search the scriptures to see what justifies the use of this practice?

4. Will I search the scriptures to see what condemns this practice?

5. Will I ask my pastor to give me a clear answer about this practice, and how it lines up or does not line up with scripture?

There are only three possible answers: A. This is a work of God, B. This is a work of Satan, C. This comes under the area of a practice (like which day to worship, or eating meat) that is up to the individual’s conscience.  In any case, the answer must be arrived at based on only the authority of God’s word- nothing and no one else’s.

Please prayerfully consider what the implications of these things are for your church, for your denomination.  If you have no problem with it, well…  But if you sense that something is wrong, that something with this just does not square with scripture, then what?  Will you keep on pretending that everything will be alright, and this all will go away soon?  Or will you do something about it?  Pastors, what will you do?  Will you tell your flock something is wrong in our denomination, or will you keep telling them to “pay no attention to that man behind the curtain?”  If you are a layperson who is facing opposition in your church, and don’t know what to do, please contact me.  There are more and more of us who are willing to help you fight the apostasy in your church.

The elephant is in the room.  The labyrinth is not a walk to life, but a walk to death.  Do you have the courage to confront the wicked?

Additional Resources:

Prayer Labyrinths: What Are They?
Includes Mike Oppenheimer from the Emerging Church DVD explaining labyrinths, and a video of a Nazarene Church from Texas that used a labyrinth for their District Assembly report)

The Labyrinth: A Walk To Life, or A Walk To Death?
Steve Muse, Eastern Regional Watch

Researching The Labyrinth Part 1

Researching The Labyrinth Part 2

Researching The Labyrinth Part 3


5 responses to “A Walk To Death In The Church

  1. Manny,

    Watching the first part of the video made me feel like I was watching a zombie movie. While I do not doubt the sincerity of these people in searching for spiritual life, this indeed, as you said, is a walk to spiritual death.

    Some time back I went through the pictures of the labyrinth at Trevecca and found the following, beside the labyrinth itself:
    lights down low
    container of sand and a person apparently has scooped some up and is pouring back into the container
    books and booklets being read
    two monitors with images of plasma globes at one station
    three monitors with images of electronic waveforms (I hope they are not practicing biofeedback techniques)
    headphones and CD players; I presume they are listening to music
    five gallon pail that probably has dirt in it
    jar of pebbles
    container of pebbles and perhaps a gardening tool
    a mirror
    on a sheet of paper on the floor the number of each station

    Many of the things in this list are extremely difficult to justify as part of Christian practice in light of the scriptures. They simply weren’t done in the New Testament church.

    3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 2 Cor 11:3 (NKJV)

    Why do some think they can improve on the simple truths of the scripture by bringing in pagan practices and beliefs???

  2. Manny:

    An excellent article and Mike thanks for the critique on Trevecca. Sometime back i wrote Trevecca’s president Dan Boone and did not receive any favorable response as to why this was being allowed. At the time I was not aware of what the details were as you described them. From what you describe this goes beyond being a spiritual help and crosses the boundary to what Manny quotes in Isaiah [2:6]

    I hope all those who read your article will open “Spiritual Directors International” and search their web-site, this is an eye opener as to who these people really are and what they are all about. Their exercise on “Contemplative Practice” is an exercise in futulity. Listen: “Find a place of inner expansion…take a slow inhalation, then let your breath go completely, breath in again fully expanding your lungs and belly, let go continue several times.” Then they ask you to read a text aloud then you pause to become aware of any sensation in your body then you are to place your hand where you felt the sensation and read the text again. Then you invite your body to move into the sensation, then you read the text one last time, then you offer thanksgiving for what transpired that is appropriate to you. And they suggest several ways you can do this.

    I went on line and found several “Spiritual Directors” in my area. I got a copy of a contract that “Spiritual Directors International” puts out. Under “Our Relationship” clause they set the ground rules as such: “You are meeting with me as your spiritual director because you want to examine your spiritual life. Spiritual direction is the contemplative practice of helping another person or group to awaken to the mystery called God in all of life, and to respond to that discovery in a growing relationship of freedom and commitment . The attached brochure entitled “Guidelines for ethical conduct” explains my role in a general way.”

    Bear in mind that “Spiritual Directors International” neither endorses nor approves those individuals that list their services with them. Their fee is per hour, payable at the end of the session, And is guaranteed for at least 12 months. You can get all this spiritual help and pay for it also. I don’t know if Dr. Hardy charges or not. I would hope all of the BGS are aware of all this?

  3. I hope the Generals become aware of this. If they are already aware and have done nothing, well, it’s time for new generals.

  4. Thanks for the correction. I had them both on my mind, and must have transposed the names. I will correct.

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