Does the Emergent Church practice mysticism? Yes. Like we talked about yesterday, the Emergent Church takes more of a subjective stance on their faith. Rather than look to the scriptures for guidance and truth, the Emergent Church employs mystic practices to lead them to “truth”. It’s believed that a person can learn and gain knowledge about God through mystical meditative like experiences. Some of these practices include walking labyrinths, breath prayers, contemplative spirituality, repeating mantras and Christian Yoga. God makes it clear that his word is sufficient.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
Emergent leaders are often heard quoting mystics like Saint Teresa of Avila, and the desert fathers. We will briefly discuss some of these mystics later in this series.
Emergent Church leaders often encourage their congregation to walk labyrinths. A labyrinth is a maze like pattern that has no forks in the road or dead ends. It simply winds its way into the center. There is only one way in and one way out. Labyrinth walkers will often repeat a mantra or meditate while they journey to the center. Once in the center the labyrinth walker will sit and meditate, opening themselves to the divinity of their choice. After they finish meeting with their divinity, they will exit the labyrinth. Walking a labyrinth is a subjective mystical experience where the walker believes that they are really communing with a god. This creates situations where people elevate their own personal experiences above what God has clearly stated in His word. The other obvious problem is that walking a labyrinth is a pagan practice. It did not originate with Christianity. God abhors when His followers take a pagan practice and then preform it unto Him (Due 12:13-14, 18:9). For more information about the practice of walking a labyrinth, see my posts on walking a labyrinth below, and podcast series on walking labyrinths at the bottom of the page.
Contemplative Spirituality, Breath Prayers and Mantras
Contemplative spirituality is the practice of using meditation and similar mind emptying practices to experience “God”. I put God in quotes because I doubt they are connecting with the Holy God of the Bible. Rather than focus on careful study of what our God has already revealed to us, the Emergent Church prefers to empty its mind and seek an experience. Again, this is for the purposes of trying to gain new information about God and to have an experience with God.
Contemplative Spirituality is not a Christian practice or movement. It is an ecumenical (drawing all faiths together into one) movement.
“We come from a variety of secular and religious backgrounds and we each seek to enrich our journey through spiritual practice and study of the world’s great spiritual traditions. We desire to draw closer to the loving Spirit which pervades all creation and which inspires our compassion for all beings.” Center for Contemplative Spirituality
Still not convinced? Click on the following website and scroll through the many “Christian organizations” involved with contemplative spirituality. It’s obvious that these groups really don’t have anything to do with the God of the Bible. http://www.contemplativespirituality.org/links.html
Our God does tell us to meditate on his word. This is not the practice of emptying our mind and expecting an experience. Meditating on God’s word is the practice of filling our mind with his word. And we are not to just repeat a scripture over and over in our head like a mantra. We are to dwell on a scripture, thinking about its meaning and praying to our Father to help us be renewed by his word.
Repeating Mantras or Breath Prayers
A practice included under the banner of contemplative spirituality is the repetitive use of breath prayers or mantras. Emergent Church leaders will encourage the vain repetition of prayers or short bits of scripture.
Matthew 6:7-8 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. (8) Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
This is a practice that did not originate with Christianity but with ungodly mystics. Again, let’s fill our minds with God’s words. Let’s think on His words. Let’s pray with a purpose and not annoy our father with vain repetition.
There’s nothing Christian about Yoga. Dictionary.com defines yoga this way;
“a school of Hindu philosophy advocating and prescribing a course of physical and mental disciplines for attaining liberation from the material world and union of the self with the Supreme Being or ultimate principle.”
Yoga has its foundation in Hinduism.
Psa 11:3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
Christians should have nothing to do with this practice. I’m not saying stretching and breathing is a sin. What I am saying is we shouldn’t be participating in Hindu practices and saying it’s unto the Lord. Some may argue “that’s not what it means to me”. It doesn’t matter what it means to us. All that matters is what God thinks.
Also consider that we are not to participate in anything that could potentially cause others to stumble.
1Th 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
Mar_9:42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea.
I plan on producing a series about Yoga and Christian Yoga in the future. Tomorrow we will continue looking at the Emergent Church by discussing what they believe concerning the doctrine of salvation.
Here is the entire podcast series on the subject of walking a labyrinth, ready for download.