Thursday, November 04, 2010

Are you a victim & purveyor of 'Christian' mysticism?

There is no mysterious, mystical 'secret' to the Christian life. It's key is right out in the open. Read. The. Bible. Obey. What. You. Read. Got it? Do it!

Mysticism is the idea that spiritual reality is found by obscure or extra-biblical means. Biblical illiteracy is often (but not always) a mark of a person who practices mysticism. Superstition. Myth. Secret language. Ecstatic worship, dance, prayer. Manifestations. Seeking for signs & wonders. Making prophetic declarations. Beware of the strong delusion. False prophets. Lying signs and wonders.

The following was written by John MacArthur.

MYSTICISM: IRRATIONALITY GONE TO SEEDMysticism is the idea that spiritual reality is found by looking inward. Mysticism is perfectly suited for religious existentialism; indeed, it is its inevitable consequence. The mystic disdains rational understanding and seeks truth instead through the feelings, the imagination, personal visions, inner voices, private illumination, or other purely subjective means. Objective truth becomes practically superfluous. Mystical experiences are therefore self-authenticating; that is, they are not subject to any form of objective verification. They are unique to the person who experiences them. Since they do not arise from or depend upon any rational process, they are invulnerable to any refutation by rational means.Arthur L. Johnson writes,The experience convinces the mystic in such a way, and to such a degree, that lie simply cannot doubt its value and the correctness of what he believes it "says."...In its crudest form this position says that believing something to be so makes it so. The idea is that ultimate reality is purely mental; therefore one is able to create whatever reality one wishes. Thus the mystic "creates" truth through his experience. In a less extreme form, the view seems to be that there are "alternate realities," one as real as another, and that these "break in upon" the mystic in his experiences. Whatever form is taken, the criterion of truth is again a purely private and subjective experience that provides no means of verification and no safeguard against error. Nevertheless, it is seen by the mystic as being above question by others.The practical result of all this is that it is nearly impossible to reason with any convinced mystic. Such people are generally beyond the reach of reason.12Mysticism is therefore antithetical to discernment. It is an extreme form of reckless faith.Mysticism is the great melting pot into which neo-orthodoxy, the charismatic movement, anti-intellectual evangelicals, and even some segments of Roman Catholicism have been synthesized. It has produced movements like the Third Wave (a neo-charismatic movement with excessive emphasis on signs, wonders, and personal prophecies); Renovar√© (an organization that blends teachings from monasticism, ancient Catholic mysticism, Eastern religion, and other mystical traditions); the spiritual warfare movement (which seeks to engage demonic powers in direct confrontation); and the modern prophecy movement (which encourages believers to seek private, extrabiblical revelation directly ftom God). The influx of mysticism has also opened evangelicalism to New-Age concepts like subliminal thought- control, inner healing, communication with angels, channeling, dream analysis, positive confession, and a host of other therapies and practices coming directly from occult and Eastern religions. The face of evangelicalism has changed so dramatically in the past twenty years that what is called evangelicalism today is beginning to resemble what used to be called neo-orthodoxy. If anything, some segments of contemporary evangelicalism are even more subjective in their approach to truth than neo-orthodoxy ever was.It could be argued that evangelicalism never successfully resisted neo-orthodoxy. Twenty years ago evangelicals took a heroic stand against neo-orthodox influences on the issue of biblical inerrancy. But whatever victory was gained in that battle is now being sacrificed on the altar of mysticism. Mysticism renders biblical inerrancy irrelevant. After all, if the highest truth is subjective and comes from within us, then it doesn't ultimately matter if the specifics of Scripture are true or not. If the content of faith is not the real issue, what does it really matter if the Bible has errors or not?In other words, neo-orthodoxy attacked the objective inspiration of Scripture. Evangelical mysticism attacks the objective interpretation of Scripture. The practical effect is the same. By embracing existential relativism, evangelicals are forfeiting the very riches they fought so hard to protect. If we can gain meaningful guidance from characters who appear in our fantasies, why should we bother ourselves with what the Bible says? If we are going to disregard or even reject the biblical verdict against homosexuality, what difference does it make if the historical and factual matter revealed in Scripture is accurate or inaccurate? If personal prophecies, visions, dreams, and angelic beings are available to give us up-to-the-minute spiritual direction—"fresh revelation" as it is often called—who cares if Scripture is without error in the whole or in the parts?Mysticism further nullifies Scripture by pointing people away from the sure Word of God as the only reliable object of faith. Warning of the dangers of mysticism, Schaeffer wrote,Probably the best way to describe this concept of modern theology is to say that it is faith in faith, rather than faith directed to an object which is actually there.... A modern man cannot talk about the object of his faith, only about the faith itself. So he can discuss the existence of his faith and its "size" as it exists against all reason, but that is all. Modern man's faith turns inward.... Faith is introverted, because it has no certain object ... it is rationally not open to discussion. This position, I would suggest, is actually a greater despair and darkness than the position of those modern men who commit suicide."13The faith of mysticism is an illusion. "Truth that is true for me" is irrelevant to anyone else, because it lacks any objective basis. Ultimately, therefore, existential faith is impotent to lift anyone above the level of despair. All it can do is seek more experiences and more feelings. Multitudes are trapped in the desperate cycle of feeding off one experience while zealously seeking the next. Such people have no real concept of truth; they just believe. Theirs is a reckless faith.

12. Arthur L. Johnson, Faith Misguided: Exposing the Dangers of Mysticism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1988), 31-32.

13. Francis Schaeffer, The God Who Is There, in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, Volume I (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 1982). 64-65

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