Marsha West
The mainstreaming of neo-Gnosticism In Evangelicalism
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By Marsha West
April 21, 2021

May the Lord have mercy upon us because we are only now beginning to pay the price of years of Bible studies that goes around the room asking: “What does this verse mean to you; what does it mean to your-self?” Ken Silva

Christians are being exhorted to put their minds on hold through meditation and take a step into the supernatural realm. Is it biblical to connect with the supernatural realm? Several years ago, “Pastor” Rob Bell, who once led the sheep astray at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grandville, MI, said the following:

    Central to the Christian tradition, for thousands of years, have been disciplines of meditation, reflection, silence, and breathing. It was understood that to be a healthy person, to be fully connected with God, and fully centered you would spend significant parts of your day in silence–breathing, meditating–praying allowing the Spirit of God to transform you and touch you.

For a number of years, Rob Bell has been leading Christians into dangerous Eastern religious beliefs and rituals. Led astray by Bell and other Christian luminaries, the sheep believe it is possible to have a special experience with “God” by practicing “disciplines” that will supposedly transform those who practice them. What these people fail to realize is that they’re wading into shark infested waters.

If it is true that engaging in disciplines of this nature are central to the Christian faith, then why do we not find them spelled out in the pages of God’s Word? Oh, I know! Because the disciplines come straight out of Hinduism!

Are followers of Jesus Christ really encouraged to shut down their minds for the purpose of connecting with the supernatural world as Bell claims? Sorry to be the bearer of bad news Mr. Rob, but the answer is No! According to the Bible, believers are to love and worship God with “all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…” (Luke 10:27). When people go into an altered state of awareness by practicing meditation or yoga, their minds are not in a normal waking state. Their mind is not engaged. Their mind is asleep!

For over two thousand years (not “thousands of years”) Christians have followed a whole host of unbiblical practices that God considers evil. But that hasn’t stopped untold numbers from participating in the things God forbids. Example: Even though God forbids fortune telling (divination) countless professing Christians consult mediums hoping to find out what their future holds.

For more than five thousand years meditation has been practiced by Eastern religions and, thanks largely to people’s involvement in New Age spirituality, it is now mainstream in Western culture.

Unbiblical meditation came about when Catholic monks began reading the Bible slowly. As they read, they would ponder the deeper meaning of each verse. This practice is known as "divine reading" or Lectio Divina. Monks who practiced Lectio Divina found themselves spontaneously praying. Their prayer would move them to a wordless focus on God which they aptly called “wordless love for God” contemplation. (Contemplative Prayer will be addressed downstream.)

Lacking a biblical worldview and not knowing that the Bible must be read in context, starting with who the author was writing to and the history at the time the words were penned, is the main reason Christians are attempting to “know the unknowable” by dipping into the forbidden waters of Eastern meditation.

Postmodern Christianity has been following “every wind of doctrine” for umpteen years. Believers listen to what their “itching ears want to hear.” Regrettably, their itching ears are tuned into neo-Gnostic heresy. One huge obstacle the Apostles had to deal with was a host of false teachers who had infiltrated the Church. Chief among them were the Gnostics. The New Testament writers roundly condemned the Gnostics as heretics. It therefore makes sense that Gnosticism in any form is worthy of condemnation for all time.

Christian Gnostics

So, what exactly is Gnosticism? Glad you asked:

    Christian Gnosticism is the belief that one must have a "gnosis" (from Greek "Gnosko," to know) or inner knowledge which is mystical knowledge obtained only after one has been properly initiated. Only a few can possess this mystical knowledge, limiting the number of those "in the know." … Gnosticism today seems to provide a lot of the form and color for the New Age portrait of Jesus where Jesus is seen as the illumined Illuminator: one who serves as a cosmic catalyst for others' awakening. As such it is as false and heretical as the Gnosticism of the first century and needs to be roundly condemned for the heresy that it is. (Source)

Many of us like to be in the know, to have “inside information.” It makes us feel important, even unique. I mean, who wouldn’t want to cultivate a special experience with Almighty God that no one else has?

Hearing God’s Voice

Joanna and Chip Gaines were longtime hosts of HGTV's hit show "Fixer Upper." They are also owners of Magnolia Market and in July they’ll launch Magnolia Network on Discovery+. In a recent interview with Oprah the husband-and-wife team describe what it is like to hear God’s voice. Listen to Joanna, who is a professing Christian, tell Oprah about her special relationship with God:

    During the long chat, Oprah, impressed by Joanna’s ability to hear from God, asked the designer to explain how she hears God’s voice. She inquired whether it was a “voice in your head, is it a feeling, is it prayer?”

    Joanna responded: “all three of those things, for sure,” along with an overwhelming “presence of peace.”

    "I will say there probably been five pivotal moments in my life where I can say that was God's voice, that was Him, and I felt the sense of peace, almost like that moment where you get chills, and you know there's something else.”

    “That's something that since I was a little girl, I've experienced God in that real way, very relational,” she emphasized.

    The professing Christian and mom of five told Oprah she stays away from religion because she believes God’s connection with His creation is very relational.

    "With the idea of religion, I shy away from that, my relationship with God, it's like no one else's,” the 42-year-old explained. “God is so creative that I can’t impose my belief. ... He shows up in beautiful unique ways for all of us.”

    “I'm very realistic. I need to hear it. I'm literal. And so that's how He shows up for me,” Gaines noted, pointing out that it’s very different for her husband. (Source)

What we learn from Joanna is that she believes God speaks to her and that she experiences God in a real way, a relational way. And because she’s a “realistic” and “literal” person, God bypasses Scripture and speaks to her directly. We also learn that religion is not important to her. Which left me wondering, is the Christian religion important to Joanna?

In her YouTube testimony she says she hears from God. For example, “I heard God say very clearly, ‘If you trust me with your dreams, I’m going to take Magnolia further than you even dreamed. Just trust me.’”

Joanna concludes with her belief that the key is to let God speak to you and “let his father heart say this is what I have for you.” Elizabeth Prata brings to light in a blogpost entitled “Looking at HGTV’S Fixer Upper Joanna Gaines’ testimony: Christianity, or Prosperity Gospel?” that in Joanna’s testimony “there is an emphasis on self and the things God will give her, not the blessing of knowing Jesus, of being redeemed from sin’s curse, for escaping wrath, of being made holy in sanctification, for the promise of heaven, for the pleasure of enjoying God forever. Nothing of the sort. Just gratitude that He will “take the store further than she ever imagined.” (Source)

I’m including what Joanna shared with Oprah about her relationship with the Almighty for the reason that she has made the claim during other interviews that God speaks directly to her. She revealed to Oprah’s audience that she has received special revelation from God since she was a child. Now, keep in mind that the Gnostics that Paul anathematized believed that they possessed a higher knowledge acquired from a “mystical higher plane of existence.” To them this meant that they were endowed with a deeper knowledge of God and a deeper relationship than the Galatian Christians had with Him.

Paul would have none of this nonsense. He asserted that there is one source of Truth and that is the Bible, God’s Holy Spirit inspired revelation to mankind (John 17:17; 2 Timothy 3:15-17; Hebrews 4:12) and it is “never superseded by man’s thoughts, ideas, writings, or visions.” Before moving on, I must warn readers that nowhere in Scripture do we find a precedent for this sort of thing. On the contrary. We are not to bypass holy writ and listen to what God supposedly conveys to us in our minds or through what is known as automatic writing or from those who supposedly have a prophetic gift.

Sadly, what Joanna Gaines believes about how God relates to her has been tainted by unbiblical teaching and unbiblical theology (theology is what we believe about God). She doesn’t understand that our experiences don’t determine truth. God reveals Truth in His Word – the Bible.

Doctrinal Truth Matters

A growing number of Christians wish to be “in the know” in the same way they perceive many other people in our culture to be. One way they attempt to achieve this is through pagan myths and ritual practices found in Eastern religions.

You say, “My church isn’t into any of that pagan stuff.” No, but without being aware of it, Christians absorb all sorts of dangerous New Age ideas and practices in the books they purchase from local or online Christian book sellers. There is also an abundance of unbiblical teaching on so-called Christian blogs and through contemporary Christian music. Countless believers are unaware that much of the so-called Christian music they listen to on the radio, sing during worship, at social gatherings etc., teach you bad theology – words that go from your lips to God’s ears matter. Worship must be done in spirit and in truth. Not to get too far afield, but while I’m on the subject of music, I need to warn you to steer clear of music coming out of Bethel Church in Redding CA, especially the mess called Jesus Culture; likewise, have nothing to do with Hillsong music. Hillsong promotes the unbiblical health and wealth gospel and it is teaming with wolves in sheep’s clothing. This “church” is up to its earlobes in scandals and it is currently under investigation. (More about scandal-ridden Hillsong below) Elevation Church music? Good grief, no! Please, no! Why? Because Elevation music is decidedly man centered. Some truth mixed with grievous error. Plus, EC’s pastor, Steven Furtick is a heretic.

Contemporary Christian music is an important topic but unfortunately I’m almost out of space, so I need to move on.

For a growing number of professing Christians, it’s all about elevating experience above doctrinal truth. But wait! Isn’t that what the Gnostics believed? Indeed, it is:

    The Gnostics thought that one must directly experience the spirit to learn the truth, this being apart from the word. Stepping over into the supernatural, experience becomes the teacher and gives them real knowledge. What was and is now being taught is spirit to spirit communication that is completely outside the Biblical revelation given by the apostles. (Source)

This description aligns with Psnrogressive “Christianity,” doesn’t it? Because the Word of God is “out of date” what we experience becomes not only the teacher, it also becomes our truth. People who’ve never read the Bible sneer that it’s a relic of the past…times have changed so we must ask fresh questions….societal norms should be taken into account. I am often rebuked by people on social media for having medieval beliefs. They retort, “What was appropriate in the early church is no longer appropriate in our postmodern world – get with the times!” “Nobody believes that anymore.” “The Church must become relevant.”

Those who think that way believe the masses are not in possession of the truth. They believe that they’re the truly enlightened, the only ones with spiritual understanding that will empower them to experience God on a deeper level. Many of these individuals attempt to connect with God by means of Contemplative Prayer (CP). I mentioned above that I’d comment on CP but I’m going to keep this brief, as I’ve written on this subject in numerous other articles.

Christian Mysticism

Contemplative Prayer, aka listening, centering and breath prayer, is not a practice you’ll find in the Bible. CP is a meditative practice that puts the focus on having a mystical experience with God. During meditation, a sacred word (such as God, Jesus, Father) is repeated again and again “as the symbol of your intention to consent to God's presence and action within.”

    Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God's presence and action within…When engaged with thoughts return ever so gently to the sacred word…At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes. (Source)

Seems like a desirable way to relax, doesn’t it? Trouble is, CP has no Scriptural support at all. Moreover, it is counter to the way in which Jesus instructed believers to pray in Luke 11:1-4. Contemplation is a “completely valid expression of thinking deeply about what God is saying in a given passage of the Bible, which is not of private interpretation.”

One example of prayer is found in Col. 4:12:

    Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God.

Biblical prayer advocates engaging your mind, even wrestling in your mind, as did Epaphras. Moreover, biblical prayer is comprehendible communication with God. Prayer is not intended to be an esoteric, yoga meditation. Granted, many contemplatives are ignorant of the true nature of meditation—but such ignorance is inexcusable and indefensible!

Overlooked are passages such as Joshua 1:8: "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." That command was uttered by our Creator! He made it clear that His people are to meditate on the Holy Spirit inspired scriptures; nowhere in the Bible does God direct us to empty our minds.

Will practicing Eastern mysticism help the Christian open up to a greater spiritual experience with God, or will it do just the opposite? Since God opposes mysticism in any form, perhaps contemplatives might be experiencing visits from cosmic spirits. Meditate on that.

I’ll close with another quote from Ken Silva taken from a piece he penned in 2012 to warn of the Emerging Church heresy. Ken kept us apprised of EC’s leaders – Rob Bell was a kingpin in that cult – and made sure we understood that the EC was a den of neo-Gnostic wolves who cloaked themselves in sheep skin “to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.”

    Right within the mainstream of the visible Christian community, we’re seeing the rise of neo-Gnostics deluded by their practice of [Contemplative Prayer]. They are attempting to ascertain knowledge from God outside of the Bible, which is His prescribed means of grace; and it’s leading to an uber-inclusivism and increasing syncretism within Christendom.

Research

Hillsong Church scandals

Discernment

On Solid Rock Resources – Marsha West’s articles

© Marsha West

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

 

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