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Of Labyrinths and Christianity

In response to some comments and questions I have received on my previous post Labyrinths of Emerging Paganism I have decided that the best way to address these is through another post, and so, here it is.

The Lord has placed a burden on my heart for His Church and that’s the main reason why He had me to start this blog. It is not my intention that I offend anyone, especially my brothers and sisters in Christ, yet if I do so in the process of trying to speak the truth, then I am sorry, but it can’t be helped.

It is my strong belief that a Christian should have no association at all with labyrinths. I will tell you why I believe this to be so:

 

1. Labyrinths Are Paganlab

A Labyrinth is a pagan tool which was adopted into the Catholic church around medieval times (see : http://luc.edu/medieval/labyrinths/labyrinths_evolution.shtml) and is now experiencing a re-surgence in popularity due in large part to Dr Lauren Artress of Veriditas (http://www.veriditas.org/).

The first known labyrinth was found in Egypt 4000-5000 years ago. They have been discovered across Asia, the Americas and Southern Africa in different forms. Some turf labyrinths still exist in England, Germany and Scandinavia and these are considered to be associated with feminine deities and fertility rituals.

“The troja labyrinth and roma labyrinth have in the historic form a monster, a minotauros, inside, in the centre, a monster you fear to approach, a monster you need to overcome and defeat. With the building of the labyrinth in the Chartres Cathedral in France 1000 years later this seems to eventually change so that this labyrinth has a solemnity in the centre that you want to reach. According to historic traditions the Chartres Labyrinth was probably placed there by its master builder to protect the church from evil entering the church, because evil cannot pass the winding lanes of a labyrinth. This is in the same way as the Romans placed a protecting labyrinth inside their front door.” (http://www.lavigne.dk/labyrinth/e1intro.htm)

Dr Artress brought the labyrinth to Grace Cathedral (San Francisco, USA) in 1994, after having met and being heavily influenced by Dr Jean Houston, one of the main promoters of the New Age in North America (http://www.jeanhouston.com/blog/?p=170).

Dr Artress founded Veriditas in order to “facilitate the transformation of the human spirit through offering the Labyrinth Experience”.  Contrast this jesus passoverwith the Biblical belief that the human spirit is rather raised from death to life by the Holy Spirit through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ at the cross.

“Over one million people have walked this labyrinth to date. People from all different backgrounds and religions are using it. Jews, Buddhists and even Christians use the institute’s labyrinth. If one visists Grace Cathedrals web site you find it being inclusive, they offer every conceivable item, from New Age holistic to interfaith to the Koran. They are church that is not holding the Christian distinctive at all.” (source: http://www.letusreason.org/Nam30.htm)

“You walk to the center of the labyrinth and there at the center, you meet the Divine. The labyrinth is a large, complex spiral circle which is an ancient symbol for the Divine Mother, the God within, the Goddess, the Holy in all of creation. For many of us the feminine aspect of the Divine has been painfully absent from our lives, our spirituality, and our Western culture.” Dr Artress

 

2. Labyrinths Facilitate Geomancyprayer lab

A labyrinth is designed to be geometrically perfect in order to facilitate “geomancy”.

“An important fact to know is that geomancy and other occult arts are often incorporated in the building of labyrinths. Charles Gilchrist a labyrinth promoter states it has a direct connection to “Sacred Geometry,” a powerful potential as an oracle. And there are other “oracle systems” that are related to Sacred Geometry, Astrology, Numerology, I Ching, Rune Stones, and the Tarot….”

Through geomancy, labyrinths are designed to bring the walker into an altered state of consciousness, through meditating on physical movement. As Dr Artress states: “A labyrinth is a walking meditation…” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9rt39ieP5E)

“A labyrinth is unicursal – this means there is one open, unobstructed path the walker follows into the center and back out again. A labyrinth has only one path leading to the center and back out again with no dead-ends.There are three basic designs being used–the seven circuit, eleven circuit, and twelve circuit; the seven circuit is the most common design found today. It is described as you roam back and forth, turning 180 degrees each time you enter a different circuit. As you change your direction your awareness changes from right brain to left brain. They are right brain activity enhancers. So the claim is that the labyrinth can induce different states of consciousness. Others say It also helps balance the charkas, spiritual energy centers described in Hinduism.” http://www.letusreason.org/Nam30.htm

See also : http://www.geomancy.com.au/

Once an individual is brought to an altered state of consciousness he/she is open to the deceptions of Satan.

I think it is important to note that no believer, no matter how mature or spiritual, is beyond being deceived. Satan is subtle, clever and the father of lies. We are no match for him. However if we sincerely love the truth, seeking after God wholeheartedly, He will deliver us from deception. On the other hand God does give people over to delusion if they refuse to love the truth:

angle of light“The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12

 

3. God Forbids Using Pagan Practices to Worship Him 

There seems to be an increasingly common misconception amongst Christians that something that is utterly ungodly and unholy can be “redeemed” if it is “Christianized”. This line of reasoning takes something secular or even pagan and tries to change it into something godly by using Christianized language. This reasoning has no basis in scripture. Redemption is the work of God, and Him only, through His Son Jesus Christ. We cannot change something that is detestable to God into something acceptable to Him, despite our sincerity. In fact it’s the very opposite.  Rather than take on the pagan practices and beliefs of the world around us God commands us to :

Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”2 Corinthians 6:17cropped-joyful.jpg

For, as 2 Corinthians 6:14, 15 says:

“…. what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.”

Just as God commanded the children of Israel to have nothing to do with the pagan practices of Canaan, but rather to destroy them, so we too are commanded to worship Him as He has proscribed. This is not a grey area – pagan practices are outright forbidden to God’s children.

When you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer,  or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the Lord, and because of these abominations the Lord your God drives them out from before you.  You shall be blameless before the Lord your God.  For these nations which you will dispossess listened to soothsayers and diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not appointed such for you.” Deuteronomy 18:9-14

Ezekiel 8 describes the abominations the Israelites had incorporated into their worship of God in the Temple.

The syncretistic absorbing of paganism into their worship of Yahweh rendered Israel “Ichabod” and brought the judgment of God upon them, just as the Canaanites had been judged for their pagan practices earlier.

The syncretistic blending of paganism into the Church will also bring judgment upon the Church.

As godly king Josiah “took away all the shrines of the high places that were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made to provoke the Lord to anger…” (2 Kings 23:19) so we too, as the Church of Jesus Christ need to be ruthless in our removal of pagan and occult practices from our own lives.  As God called the Israelites to be a light shining in the midst of pagan idolatry, so too are we called to be the light of Christ shining in a dark world.  This can only happen as we are wholly consecrated to God, separated unto Him.

It is my whole-hearted belief that any Christian involvement with labyrinths, (as with any other occult practice) needs to be repented of and renounced.

God bless

 

 

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Labyrinths of Emerging Paganism – This Weekend

Co-Creation Conference 2014” begins this weekend, May 1-3.  This is an event promoted and attended by Brian McLaren, Phyllis Tickle and other Emergent Church leaders. If you’ve read my post The Emergent Church/New Age Connection you will be aware that “co-creation” is a New Age term that has been adopted by the Emergent Church.  The Emergents seem to be rather keen on using pagan labyrinths in their “ancient wisdom” mysticism.  And thus “Co-Creation Conference 2014” features a very special one:

“You are invited on a modern-day pilgrimage at Holy Trinity’s outdoor labyrinth located adjacent to the sanctuary.  There you will find a beautifully labyrinth-fillercrafted eleven-circuit Chartres-style stone labyrinth with a fountain of flowing water in the center. Nearby, a replica of the Muiredach Celtic high cross bears witness to this sacred place. By walking the labyrinth alone or in a guided group, you may experience a kind of body prayer or walking meditation that quiets your mind, allowing your spirit to become more receptive to the still small voice of God. The Holy Trinity labyrinth, located in a cloistered and well-lighted outdoor space, is available any time of day for individual walkers. Opportunities also abound for you to experience labyrinth walks facilitated by the Holy Trinity Labyrinth Keepers.” http://servleader.org/the_labyrinth

Not only is the Emergent “Co-creation Conference” being held this weekend – this Saturday, the 3rd of May, is also “World Labyrinth Day”. This is where you can “Celebrate the sixth annual World Labyrinth Day (WLD) on Saturday, May 3rd, 2014! The Labyrinth Society invites you to ‘Walk as One at 1″ in the afternoon, joining others around the globe to create a wave of peaceful energy washing across the time zones. (https://labyrinthsociety.org/world-labyrinth-day)

But….not only is it “World Labyrinth Day” and the “Co-Creation Conference 2014” this weekend!  Amazingly both events coincide with the season of the pagan festival of Beltane (May Day). Is this a coincidence…? Hmmm…me-thinks not.  It is of note that Celtic neo-pagans and Wiccans observe Beltane as a religious holiday. It is interesting to consider that during a pagan religious festival many people will be ritualistically walking labyrinths at a pre-determined time.  And still more interesting that the Emergent Church’s “Co-Creation Conference”, featuring a sacred labyrinth, will be proceeding simultaneously.

labyrinthThe Co-Creation Conference’s website states the labyrinth as having this purpose:

Three stages of the (labyrinth) walk:

  • Purgation (Releasing) ~ A releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions. A time to open the heart and quiet the mind.
  • Illumination (Receiving) ~ When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.
  • Union (Returning) ~ As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is joining God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work for which you feel your soul is reaching.”

I ask you – is THIS Christianity?

 

“Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst.  But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images   (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God),  lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they play the harlot with their gods and make sacrifice to their gods…” Exodus 34:10-15

 


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Mysteries and Mysticism

babylonThis post follows on from The Deep, deep Roots of Emerging Mysticism where we looked at Mystery Babylon, the Tower of Babel, Nimrod and the ancient roots of the “mystery” religions – all  sprung from the root of Satan’s lie:

For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God….”

It is my belief that the Church is willing to accept rituals, prayer labyrinths and other pagan practices because we have lost the anointing of the Holy Spirit both in our churches and in our prayer closets.  Friends – we desperately need a revival!  Where are those who, like Elijah, will cry out to God until He sends the rain?

I believe we have lost the anointing in our churches and prayer closets because are not willing to pay the price to have it.  The anointing is costly. 

Yes, salvation is free to all because of Christ’s atonement at Calvary – that is undisputed – but the anointing of the Holy Spirit is an expensive treasure.  To follow our Master is not always easy.  The way of the cross is hard, it demands sacrifice, humility, self-denial and death to self.  Are we willing to pay the price?

This is something we need to decide, because there is an influx of Mystery Religions coming – and from the way of the cross they are completely opposed…

treeoflife

The Tree of LIfe

knowledge tree


The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

                                                           Which Tree will you choose?

 

Characteristics of the Mystery Religions

In contrast to the way of the cross, these mystery religions all have one thing in common:

They elevate humankind to god-hood.

Rather than death to self, “Self” is exalted.

“.…you will be like God….” Gen 3:5

Just as Lucifer tried to exalt himself above the throne of God; just as Nimrod tried to elevate himself above the heavens by his tower, so too the mystery religions continue to attempt to exalt humankind to deity. What these mystery religions proclaim, in essence, is that : humankind is essentially divine, we just need to realize it.  Our divine consciousness simply needs to be recognized and released.

Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Gnosticism, the New Age & Western Occultism all hold to this belief.

The Bible calls this the “Mystery of Iniquity”.  Man in his “divinity” seeks to reach up to god-hood.  He tries to elevate himself through some sort of works.  These may include: religious rituals, asceticism, enlightenment through meditation, good works etc.

New Age believes in the essential goodness of Man and the Divine Spark in Man (http://eastrovedica.com/html/newage.htm)

Notice that this “reaching up” is the exact opposite of what God did in sending His Son, Jesus Christ:

who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Phillippians 2:6-8

While mystery religions attempt to lift man UP to the heavens, Christ, the true God, humbles Himself and leaves heaven to come DOWN to save us from our sin.

The Bible calls this the “Mystery of Godliness”.  We cannot save ourselves. Our eternal salvation and redemption required for God to come down to us in order to save us.

  • The Mystery of Iniquity says that humankind is divine – our problem is that we don’t know it (PRIDE)
  • The Mystery of Godliness says that humankind is sinful, unable to save ourselves and that it required God to come down to us in the flesh to save us (HUMILITY)

Which is more appealing to human flesh?

Has the “Mystery of Iniquity” Entered the Church?

For Christianity, the central problem is how God could have become person. How spirit could transform itself into matter. Word become flesh. Consciousness become protoplasm. The direction is from the top down. For Judaism, on the other hand, the problem is how humanity could possibly attain to God’s word and intention. How matter could raise itself to spirit. How simple desert souls could hear the word. Human substance attain consciousness. The intention is “to permeate matter and raise it to spirit.” The direction is from the bottom up. Perhaps the two traditions, one moving down, the other moving up, are destined to meet in the divinity of humanity.” Leonard Sweet, Quantum Spirituality, pg. 191

We affirm our divinity by doing what is worthy of gods, and we affirm our humanity by taking risks only available to mortals. God had to become one of us before He could become heroic … Robert Schuller affirms our divinity, yet does not deny our humanity … isn’t that what the gospel is? Isn’t God’s message to sinful humanity that He sees in each of us a divine nature of such worth that He sacrificed His own Son so that our divine potentialities might be realized? … The hymn writer who taught us to sing ‘Amazing Grace’ was all too ready to call himself a ‘wretch’ … Forgetting our divinity and over-identifying with our [Freudian] anal humanity… Erich Fromm, one of the most popular psychoanalysts of our time, recognized the diabolical social consequences that can come about when a person loses sight of his/her own divinity …” Tony Campolo

Um, I’d say that’s a resounding “YES”.

But what does Jesus say? “If any man will be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.”

The way of the cross is death.  First death, then life.  Christ Himself died and was raised up.  We also need to die to self and be raised up to resurrection life by the power of the Holy Spirit.  We need to confess that we are sinners only saved by God’s grace, not by any human works.

The anointing has a price: and it comes at the expense of human pride.

Definition of Mysticism

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy “The term ‘mysticism,’ comes from the Greek μυω, meaning “to conceal.” In the Hellenistic world, ‘mystical’ referred to “secret” religious mysteriousrituals. In early Christianity the term came to refer to “hidden” allegorical interpretations of Scriptures and to hidden presences, such as that of Jesus at the Eucharist.”

knowledge tree

The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil

In all of the “mystery” religions, we see that there is something hidden or concealed, a higher knowledge that only the elite few, being enlightened, are privy to, whilst the majority are left in the dark…..Remind you of anything?…

Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘….God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4, 5

Another mystic described (reality) as “It is hidden, it is hidden and it is hidden“.”  (http://eastrovedica.com/html/newage.htm)

This is why the triangle is a symbol of the mystery religions representing:

      The enlightened few at the top

tri

The majority of the un-knowing at the bottom

This is true for gnosticism, the New Age, Freemasonry, the cults and the occult.  In fact “occult”  is “from the Latin word occultus, meaning “clandestine, hidden, secret” is “knowledge of the hidden” (source: Wikipedia)

Contrast this with the pure simplicity of the Word of God.  God has spoken through His Word and it is open and available to whomsoever wishes to read it.  It is suitable both for the intellectual ex-Pharisee and for the uneducated fisherman.  God’s plan of redemption is through His Son Jesus Christ and is plainly declared throughout scripture.

The Mystery of God

This is not to say that there is not mystery surrounding God.  Of course there is.  He is so much higher than us, His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts higher than our thoughts.  It is impossible for the human mind to fully comprehend God in all His goodness, power and glory – truly now we “see through a glass darkly”.  Yet He has made Himself known to us through His Word, through His Son and by His Spirit and because of Christ’s atonement it is possible for us to have a personal relationship with God.  This is indeed a divine mystery.

However what can be known of God is open and available to the lowest and the highest of the human race.  There are not different levels or hierarchies in the Kingdom of God.  Some are not privileged with a “special” knowing or knowledge whilst the rest of the plebs are left in the dark.  “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all”.  God wants us to know Him and has revealed Himself to us through the Word made flesh (Jesus), and the Word of God (The Bible).

The thing that concerns me about the Emergent Church is that they are turning away from how God has chosen to reveal Himself to humanity – the Word of God – because, as Leonard Sweet says:

Doctrine does not convey the mystery of God.”

This is very subtle and very clever.  This statement is appealing because in a sense it is true. Reliance on pure doctrine in a Christian can bring about legalism, rigidity and life-less coldness.  Doctrine-only without the Holy Spirit’s anointing is dead.  I have known Christians and churches with a purity of doctrine. They do not tolerate false teachings nor teachers, and yet there is no warmth, no love and no life.   They label anyone who has had a personal experience of God as a “mystic”.  They have run to the extreme of “truth” with no grace.  This is not right. As Christians we need a personal experience with the living God, like Isaiah and Peter did.  We need a life-changing relationship with Jesus Christ.  We must know not only the Word of God, but the God of the Word.  We need the anointing!

Yet, the other extreme is also faulty – to give away doctrine completely in order to search out the mystery of God, usually through experience-only.  God has given us doctrine (or teaching) in His Word so that we can truly come to know Him.  If we base our knowledge of God purely on our experiences then there is no objective point of reference as to whether who/what we are experiencing is truly God or whether it be a deceptive spirit. The Bible says to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God”.  It is only through the safe-guards of the Word of God that we can measure our experiences to see whether they line up or not.  Anything that falls outside of scripture is prohibited and not of God.

treeoflife

Tree of Life

So we need the Word of God and the anointing of the Spirit of God.  Together they bring life.

The Holy Spirit bears witness to Jesus Christ, so when the Word is preached (in the power of the Holy Spirit) the Spirit is there.  When the authority of the Word is denied another spirit is able to gain access – the spirit of the “Mystery of Iniquity”.  We see that that is what is happening in the Emergent church.  Pagan spiritual practices are now acceptable and openly promoted.  Labyrinths are being installed in churches, Eastern meditative breathing techniques are being taught from the pulpit, people are praying to pictures of Jesus, prayer stones are being handed out.

In my next post I would like to look at:

  • Some of how these techniques and practices are being taught and promoted in the Emergent Church
  • Their (hidden) purpose and
  • Where its heading – The Age of Aquarius and One-World Religion

In A Meditation on Emergent Spirituality

Blessings!