Fight for Joy! Blog
Where Jesus Changes Everything
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1). “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death”(Proverbs 14:12). I have witnessed a lot of changes over the course of my lifetime. However, nothing has prepared me for the changes I have witnessed of late in the body of Christ. I am referring to ancient mystical practices and a mystical spirituality that have gained access to the church. Twenty years ago I think we would have recognized it for what it is – “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” Today spiritual discernment seems to be a thing of the past. Methods have become more important than orthodoxy – the basic tenants of “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). Sometimes it comes under the guise of, “the message never changes but we must find new methods of reaching others.” My response to that often repeated assertion is, “says who?” Jim Wilson, in his book Future Church, suggests these “new methods” must have “appeal to believers and unbelievers alike” in order to “usher them into the presence of God.” The problem is these “new methods” are of a mystical-experiential flavor, one that the body of Christ would do well to avoid!
The Bible is overwhelmingly clear in its warning that in the days before Christ returns, truth will be exchanged for a wider spiritual road that originates with “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.” I think we are beginning to see a slow subtle appearance of this end-time reality, one that is readying the masses for the Antichrist. Roger Oakland suggests a new form of Christianity has begun to emerge that will replace biblical faith with a faith that is driven by ancient mystical experiences, not to mention a system of works and rituals. I wholeheartedly agree. It seems that well educated, supposedly doctrinally sound and solid Christian leaders are throwing all discernment to the wind in favor of mystical experiences rather than simple belief or faith. We must remember, the Bible says, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Furthermore, the Scriptures assert that God is, “well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Cor. 1:21). So there you have it. The preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ has worked well for nearly two-thousand years. It has continued to have the power to change lives. Continued, that is, until now. Now we are told we must abandon the “old” way of doing things for something newer and more relevant to this so called postmodern generation.
One method that has been suggested for reaching the postmodern crowd is the Prayer Labyrinth. It is a multi-sensory worship practice involving a maze-like structure used during times of contemplative prayer (contemplative prayer is the vehicle through which many churches are being assimilated into these ancient mystical practices). I say “maze-like” because it really isn’t a maze. There is one path in and one path out. It is often described as “an ancient-future prayer experience with postmodern appeal.” It usually includes prayer stations complete with candles, icons, pictures, etc. What its proponents fail to realize (or maybe they just don’t care) is that the labyrinth originated in early pagan societies. Furthermore, there is no evidence in the Bible that the disciples or the early church turned to such a mystical form of worship, especially one that needs candles, icons, pictures and other paraphernalia to feel more spiritual. Nowhere in Scripture is there even a hint of this. In fact, I would suggest it is an insult to the stable and eternal truths of the Bible – truths that although centuries old are still relevant today. I submit to the reader that the labyrinth isn’t a biblical way from the ancient past of experiencing the presence of Christ. Rather, it is an ancient and dangerous form of mysticism that most assuredly opens the practitioner up to a spiritual realm that is both spiritually deceptive and deadly. I genuinely believe prayer labyrinths and other contemplative practices are a slippery slope that will lead to spiritual deception, thereby rendering the message of the Cross unnecessary and the truth of the Gospel void. “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1).
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