Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Image above courtesy of by Ian Britton.

Hebrews 12:1-10, 25-29

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire.


Leviticus 10:1-11

And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is it that the LORD spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace. And Moses called Mishael and Elzaphan, the sons of Uzziel the uncle of Aaron, and said unto them, Come near, carry your brethren from before the sanctuary out of the camp. So they went near, and carried them in their coats out of the camp; as Moses had said.

And Moses said unto Aaron, and unto Eleazar and unto Ithamar, his sons, Uncover not your heads, neither rend your clothes; lest ye die, and lest wrath come upon all the people: but let your brethren, the whole house of Israel, bewail the burning which the LORD hath kindled. And ye shall not go out from the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: for the anointing oil of the LORD is upon you. And they did according to the word of Moses.

And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: and that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; and that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.


The purpose of GOD'S fire is to purify the children of obedience and make them holy, not to destroy them. In the Old Testament God put Nadab and Abihu to death for disobeying His command and offering strange fire to Him. God makes a clear distinction between what is holy and what is not, what is from Him and what is not, what is acceptable and what is not. The Israelites were warned not to adopt heathen practices or entertain heathen gods. Are Christians today able to distinguish between the two? We must examine carefully the origins of the fire we encounter, to distinguish between the holy fire that brings repentance and purifies us from sin, and the strange fire that deceives and destroys.


The latest newsletter at Lighthouse Trails gave an update on the growth of the practice of meditation at an astonishing rate of approximately 1.7 million people a year since 2003, when the number was at 10 million in the United States of America. They report that according to Dr. Rick Levy`s book, Miraculous Health, that the number of practitioners in the United States alone is currently 17 million.

The newsletter goes on to say:

Keep in mind that we are not talking about people that have just embraced a particular belief system intellectually or rationally. We are talking about mystics, people who are in touch with the supernatural realm on a continous basis. We believe this remarkable acceleration is due to two factors.

First is the tremendous explosion of the interest in Yoga. Yoga, for those that don't know, means union, as in the mystical sense, the union with the divine or the Hindu concept of the divine. Most people may think it is just stretching and a form of calisthenics but Yoga and meditation are supposed to go together. You can't really have one without the other and still call it Yoga.

Secondly, and more important from the perspective of Lighthouse Trails is the explosion of the interest in contemplative prayer, which is a westernized form of meditation.

The newsletter states that the explosion of interest in contemplative prayer is due to rise of the Purpose Driven movement and the Emerging Church movement. I would like to add to that the
Roman Catholic Church, as it has a growing contemplative movement as well.

At the beginning of January I began writing a post which I never completed that deals with this topic. It contains several examples of how and where the growth of meditation and yoga is taking place here in Canada. Below is an edited version of that post.


Has anybody noticed how big yoga is these days? Several weeks ago I was at a grand opening for a Mark's Work Wearhouse store. As I was browsing through their clothing section an advertisement came on over their sound system promoting their yoga wear and extolling the virtues of the practice. Then several days ago I was in Wal-mart and I saw an ad on the shopping cart I was pushing that was also promoting yoga.

On January 5th I decided to watch some television and came across a program on VisionTv called The Fires That Burn, an hour-long documentary featuring a Roman Catholic nun, Elaine MacInnes who has been recognized for her work as a Zen Master and made an officer of the Order of Canada in 2001. Sister Elaine MacInnes is a member of Our Lady's Missionaries, an order of Roman Catholic nuns and is associated with The Phoenix Trust, a meditation and yoga program for prison inmates in Ireland and the UK. The VisionTV website states that her mission now is to introduce meditation and yoga classes into Canadian penitentiaries through a Toronto organization called Freeing the Human Spirit.

It is interesting to note in the promotional picture for the documentary (directly above) that there is clearly a connection between eastern and western meditation. Those promoting meditation within the Roman Catholic Church seem to have no problem with this connection and recognize it openly. However, whenever an evangelical Christian is confronted with this issue, it is quickly denied. Are they naive or just in denial?

Ascent magazine (Yoga for the Inspired Life) contains an article profiling Sister Elaine MacInnes entitled not broken by Talya Rubin. In it MacInnes is quoted:

"I was never moved to be a Buddhist,” she says. When people in Japan asked her about it, she would say, “Look, I was just brought up in Moncton, New Brunswick. I can’t all of a sudden say I have had a hundred lives beforehand. I was born on March 7th in 1924 and I was fresh and clean and I have my own personality. I’m not another hundred thousand people behind me.” When her teacher noticed her first breakthroughs in Zen practice, he simply said, “Now you go out and be a better Christian and a better Sister.”

Sister Elaine speaks of Zen as being about direct experience, not words or objects. “There was never anything but the right now, right here.” Even the Buddha requested that his words not be recorded. He taught from experience and it was these practices that were later to be the basis for Zen teachings, but the terms themselves and the religious elements of Buddhism were recorded later. “Scholars say the Buddha grew up in a Hindu country so that he just went back to the religious matrix of his time.”

Of her own teaching Sister Elaine says, “I have Jewish people and I have Muslims and I have people with no religion and it doesn’t bother me at all. I just try to use quite a few different terms so that people won’t get stuck on one. We don’t find it necessary to impose a god on you, we just ask you to sit down and keep quiet.” She laughs heartily at this.

“My teacher in Japan used to say ‘we are all born to be mystics.’(1.)

Rubin goes on to say:

The yoga and meditation taught are a practice of “silent body, silent mind,” and apparently it works. By the time she retired from the Trust, Sister Elaine had set up eighty-six teachers in prisons across the UK and they receive thousands of letters each month from the inmates. “I would say our discipline is therapeutic and that is why it is so important for prisoners."

The kind of zazen they teach is Shikantaza. “‘Shika’ means ‘only’ and ‘ta’ means ‘to hit’ and the ‘za’ is squatting on the floor. It is something that will hit the mark.” Simple counting of breath is emphasized, as well as correct posture. “The bottom line of meditation for a teacher is that you’re bringing people to a deeper state of consciousness and that involves something very, very touchy. There is something in practising silence the way we teach that is very safe, and to my knowledge it has never been known for anyone to crack up.”

In her prison programs, Sister Elaine felt it necessary to balance meditation practices with yoga instruction. Yoga Outreach, a charity organization based in Surrey, BC, was asked to implement a yoga program for the correctional institutions in Canada. The yoga postures taught are breath-centred to facilitate a link between body and mind.

The practice of yoga and meditation brings a space of silence to the prisoners, and with this seems to follow discipline, productivity, a sense of purpose, an alleviation of depression, a reduction in violence, and in the long run, a reduced rate of recidivism. This approach fits in with a paradigm shift slowly being introduced into the judicial system called Restorative Justice.

When thinking about Sister Elaine, the image I am left with is from a documentary film made about her life and work called The Fires that Burn. The image of an inmate – shaved head and tattooed arms, his muscled body suddenly looking very fragile as he holds himself in Plank pose. I have never seen anyone do yoga with such tenderness and fear before. This is clearly fertile ground – the space for things that are broken to mend in silence. (2.) (emphasis in bold is mine)

There is no doubt left to the readers mind that this is an eastern practice being promoted by a Roman Catholic nun. And she makes no bones about where she learned it, although she willingly promotes it as being available to all regardless of their faith. She emphasizes that it is the method that is important and makes the practice effective, not its eastern origins. This should cause anyone professing the Christian faith to realize that you can call the practices of yoga and meditation by any name you like (contemplative prayer), but they will all lead down the same pathway ~ to a union with "the divine", and a belief that "all is one".


Meditation for Health is a website promoting its community-based medical program in Toronto, Canada run by M.D. Lucinda Sykes, "a Toronto physician psychotherapist with over twenty-five years experience in general practice psychotherapy. She trained with Jungian analysts, Marion Woodman and Fraser Boa, and has twice participated in MBSR professional training programs under the direction of Dr. Kabat-Zinn. She is a past board member of the General Practice Psychotherapy Association. Dr. Sykes has had a personal practice of hatha yoga and meditation for over twenty years, and has lead Meditation for Health groups since 1997."(3.)

I'm sure this is just one of myriads of these types of programs available to people these days. It seems just about every hospital, clinic, massage or chiropractic office has posters up that promote them; in fact, it is difficult to find one that doesn't. The program used by Meditation for Health is called Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). The site says that MBSR

"develops our capacity for mindfulness, with a program of simple meditation exercises and body stretches"...and ..."Although the practice of mindfulness has been most developed in the traditions of Asia, it is taught without a particular religious or philosophical belief. It is a basic awareness technique, a way of looking at things, that people of all faiths can share."(4.)(emphasis in bold is mine)

Meditation for Health website has a page listing resources with "Books of Interest to Christian Meditators" containing a total of 27 books! The authors include Brother Lawrence, Thomas Merton, Basil Pennington, Richard Foster, Thomas Keating, Willis Jager, and of course, Sister Elaine MacInnes (Zen Contemplation for Christians), among others.


I came across another interesting website while I was doing some research on a book that my daughter was required to read as part of a Bible School course she was taking (called Devotional Classics, by none other than Richard Foster). The quotes (given below) from this site illustrate the New Age/Hindu teaching regarding "Christian" mysticism. Although their teachings about Christ are unfaithful to Scripture, they illustrate the occultic nature of these practices. had this in its section on Alternative Religions about Mystic Christianity in an article written by Yogi Ramacharaka (William Walker Atkinson):

That there is a Secret Doctrine of Christianity is not generally known to the majority who claim the name of "Christian." But it has always been known to the mystics in and out of the church, and its flame has been kept steadily alight by a few devoted souls who were chosen for this sacred task.

The Secret Doctrine of Christianity did not originate with Jesus, for He, Himself, was an Initiate of Mysteries which had been known and taught for centuries before His birth. As St. Augustine has said:

"That which is called the Christian Religion existed among the ancients and never did not exist, from the beginning of the human race until Christ came in the flesh, at which time the true religion which already existed began to be called Christianity.

"Origen states that:

"The Scriptures have a meaning, not only such as is apparent at first sight, but also another, which escapes the notice of most men. For such is written in the forms of certain Mysteries, and the image of divine things. Respecting which there is one opinion throughout the whole Church, that the whole law is indeed spiritual; but that the spiritual meaning which the law conveys is not known to all, but to those only on whom the grace of the Holy Spirit is bestowed in the word of wisdom and knowledge." (De Principiis.)

We could fill page after page with live quotations from the writings of the Early Christian Fathers, and their successors, showing the existence of the Inner Teachings. But we must rest content with those which we have given you, which are clear and to the point, and which come from undoubted authority.

The departure of the Church from these Inner Teachings was a great calamity, from which the Church is still suffering. As that well-known occultist, Eliphias Levi, has said:

"A great misfortune befell Christianity. The betrayal of the Mysteries by the false Gnostics--for the Gnostics, that is, those who know, were the Initiates of primitive Christianity--caused the Gnosis to be rejected, and alienated the Church from the supreme truths of the Kabbala, which contains all the secrets of transcendental theology.... Let the most absolute science, let the highest reason become once more the patrimony of the leaders of the people; let the sarcerdotal art and the royal art take the double sceptre of antique initiations and the social world will once more issue from its chaos. Burn the holy images no longer; demolish the temples no more; temples and images are necessary for men; but drive the hirelings from the house of prayer; let the blind be no longer leaders of the blind; reconstruct the hierarchy of intelligence and holiness, and recognize only those who know as the teachers of those who believe." (The Mysteries of Magic, Waite translation.)

And now, you ask, what were taught in these Christian Mysteries--what is the Inner Teaching--what the Secret Doctrine? Simply this, good students--the Occult Philosophy and Mystic Lore which has been taught to the Elect in all times and ages, and which is embodied in our several series of lessons on THE YOGI PHILOSOPHY AND ORIENTAL OCCULTISM, plus the special teaching regarding the nature, mission, and sacrifice of Jesus the Christ, as we have tried to explain in the present series of lessons. The Truth is the same no matter under what name it is taught, or who teaches it. Strip it of the personal coloring of the teacher and it is seen to be the same--THE TRUTH. In these lessons we have tried to give you the Key to the Mysteries, but unless you have studied the other lessons in which the Occult Teachings have been set forth, you will not be able to see their application in Mystic Christianity. You must bring Knowledge to the lessons, in order to take away knowledge. (5.)(emphasis in bold mine, emphasis in capital letters theirs)


Isn't it odd that a Hindu Yogi recognizes the occultic nature of Christian mysticism, while many Christians are unwittingly adopting it. Ramacharaka-Atkinson consistently misuses and misinterprets quotes from Scripture and other historical theologians throughout this article (which you can see if you read the entire article) to suit his occultic worldview. I wonder how long it will be until the barriers separating the east from the west (occultic mysticism from contemplative prayer) will cease to exist in the mind and heart of the Christian church? It is evident that they don't make such a distinction within the New Age and occultic camps. Scripture tells us to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves, as our adversary, the devil prowls like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

I again direct you to the book of Jude (1-5, 17-25)and its warnings:

Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
to them that are sanctified by God the Father,
and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you
of the common salvation,
it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you
that ye should earnestly contend for the faith
which was once delivered unto the saints.

For there are certain men crept in unawares,
who were before of old ordained to this condemnation,
ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness,
and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

I will therefore put you in remembrance,
though ye once knew this, how that the Lord,
having saved the people out of the land of Egypt,
afterward destroyed them that believed not.

But, beloved, remember ye the words
which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time,
who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
These be they who separate themselves,
sensual, having not the Spirit.

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith,
praying in the Holy Ghost,
Keep yourselves in the love of God,
looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

And of some have compassion, making a difference:
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire;
hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling,
and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory
with exceeding joy,
To the only wise God our Saviour,
be glory and majesty, dominion and power,
both now and ever. Amen.

(2.) ibid

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