Archive for the ‘Buddhism’ Category

from Herescope:

The Holy Spirit as Personal Comforter

The idea of “practicing the presence of God” is meaningless. Do we also practice the omniscience of God; or perhaps, we need to practice His omnipotence? – Pastor Ken Silva

The point in this quote above is well said. As various forms of mysticism invade the evangelical church today, heresies about the nature of the Holy Spirit and His actions, are running rampant. Evangelicals are being told that in order to connect with the divine, they must meditate, contemplate and practice various new/old forms of mysticism. This has no biblical foundation, but rather more closely approximates the views and practices of eastern meditation. In fact, those of us who formerly practiced Transcendental Meditation in its many manifestations easily recognize this heresy — and the dangers of connecting with the spirit world. But our prior experience in this realm doesn’t mean that the warnings we issue will be heeded.

These two quotations below illustrate the mindset of eastern mysticism:

Prana is a subtle invisible force. It is the life-force that pervades the body. It is the factor that connects the body and the mind, because it is connected on one side with the body and on the other side with the mind. It is the connecting link between the body and the mind. The body and the mind have no direct connection. They are connected through Prana only.

Yoga works primarily with the energy in the body, through the science of pranayama, or energy-control. Prana means also ‘breath.’ Yoga teaches how, through breath-control, to still the mind and attain higher states of awareness. The higher teachings of yoga take one beyond techniques, and show the yogi, or yoga practitioner, how to direct his concentration in such a way as not only to harmonize human with divine consciousness, but to merge his consciousness in the Infinite.

The eastern worldview errs by attempting to connect with the divine through various mystical activities. The eastern mind uses meditative mechanisms to encounter the world of the spirit and become one with it. In the corruption that is called “Christian mysticism,” the Holy Spirit becomes confused with a “force,” something that can be manipulated by mystical pursuits in order to achieve a higher order of spirituality.

The Holy Spirit is downgraded from a Person in the Trinity to becoming a means of “connection” to spirituality itself, often presented as a chief “spirit” among many in the modern pantheon. The locus shifts to the person meditating and their own subjective spiritual experiences. The meditator mistakes experience for the Divine; a fool’s gold shining in the rays of self absorption which substitutes for the “gold tried in the fire” (Rev. 3:8).

While enmeshed in the eastern mindset, then, it is difficult (if not impossible) to view the Godhead according to Scripture.

In contrast to the seductions of these errors, we offer a solid biblical refutation by J.C. Philpot, in a selected excerpt from “Meditations on the Person, Work, and Covenant Offices of God the Holy Ghost,” by J.C. Philpot (1802-1869), On Matters of Christian Faith and Experience, Vol. 1 (Old Paths Gospel Press) (406-466-2311), pp. 187-192). . . . .

read the full article here.

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James 4:4:

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

from The BBC:

Pope Benedict XVI has said he will organise a summit in Assisi with religious heads to discuss how they can promote world peace.

In a New Year message, the Pope also condemned inter-religious violence, including attacks against Christians in the Middle East.

The summit in the Italian city will be held in October, 25 years after Pope John Paul organised a similar event.

His announcement came hours after a bomb went off at a church in Egypt.

At least 17 people died in the blast at the Coptic Christian Church in the northern Egyptian city of Alexandria, sparking a clash between Christians and Muslims.


Speaking in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Pope Benedict said the aim of the summit would be to “to solemnly renew the effort of those with faith of all religions to live their faith as a service for the cause of peace”.

“Facing the threatening tensions of the moment, especially discrimination, injustices and religious intolerance, which today strike Christians in a particular way, once again, I make a pressing appeal not to give in to discouragement and resignation,” he said.

He said the summit would also “honour the memory of the historical event promoted by my predecessor”.

Pope John Paul hosted a similar event in 1986, which was attended by leading Jews and Muslims, as well as the Dalai Lama and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Pope Benedict has repeatedly denounced attacks on Christians in Iraq, including an assault on a Baghdad cathedral in October which killed at least 50 people. The Vatican fears that the violence is driving many Christians out of the region.

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from The Korea Herald:

Korean religious leaders met Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday to exchange views on promoting inter-faith harmony with the Vatican, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The Korean Council of Religious Leaders, comprising representatives of Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism and Protestantism, visited the Vatican as part of their Christian pilgrimage from Dec. 6-16 to Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

It is the first time the leaders of the Korean faith communities made a group visit to a pope, the council said in a press release. 

 Korean religious leaders pose with Pope Benedict XVI Wednesday at the Vatican. The Korean Council of religious Leaders visited the Vatican as part of their Christian pilgrimage from Dec. 6-16. (First row, from left: Kim Joo-won, general director of Won-Buddhism; Rev. Rhee Kwang-sun of the Christian Council of Korea; Hyginus Kim Hee-joong Archbishop of Gwangju; Archbishop Pier Luigi Chelata; Pope Benedict XVI; Ven. Jaseung, head of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism; Choi Gun-duk, president of Sung Kyun Kwan; and Han Yang-won, president of the Korean Council of Religious Leaders. (Yonhap-News)

The visiting representatives include Kim Joo-won, general director of Won-Buddhism; Rev. Rhee Kwang-sun of the Christian Council of Korea; Hyginus Kim Hee-joong, archbishop of Gwangju; Ven. Jaseung, head of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism; Choi Gun-duk, president of Sung Kyun Kwan; and Han Yang-won, president of the Korean Council of Religious Leaders.

“The Vatican showed keen interest in the fact that Korean religious leaders jointly went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land,” the council said in a press release.

They also met with senior Vatican leaders including Archbishop Pier Luigi Chelata and exchanged views on ways of promoting inter-faith peace.

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This article is sadly the case today for most Christian youth who encounter the secular world in High School and College.

Many become dissillusioned with what they see in modern churches and therefore begin to doubt the very existence of God, and start on that long road of searching for meaning in false religions, alcohol and drugs!

I was one of those Christian youths, and I can identify with this young mans testimony!

And I can say Thank God for his patience and forgiveness!

from Berit Kjos:

My father was a priest in the Episcopal Church, and thus I was highly familiar with Christianity during my childhood. However, by the time I reached adolescence, the services and Sunday school had lost their interest for me. The whole liturgy felt monotonous and dry. It was about this time (I was perhaps twelve or thirteen) that I was introduced to David Hume in school’s philosophy class. I hadn’t even thought of doubting the existence of God before, but I quickly realized that I didn’t believe.

The final straw for me was a Sunday school class, the subject of which was faith. Each person in the class had to name things that they had faith in. I was an honest person at the time, and I couldn’t say that I had faith in God. That would be a lie. I didn’t even know what that phrase “faith in God” would or could mean!

By the time I entered high school, I was a hardcore atheist. I quoted Richard Dawkins in papers of mine, and read religion message boards just so I could get in arguments with Christians. I was entirely certain that I was correct, that the notion of God, or any God, was impossible.

At the same time, the message boards exposed me to many other religious traditions. I flirted with several other beliefs, but didn’t stay with any of them for long. There were a couple months where I was Taoist, and maybe a week or so where I professed Anton LaVey’s version of Satanism. High school wasn’t a pleasant time for me. I was obsessive and kept to myself, preferring to sit at home scribbling away in notebooks when I could be out with other people.

By the end of high school I had given up strict atheism. I found the whole “new atheist” movement immature and annoying. I still didn’t believe in God, but I identified as an agnostic and an existentialist. The way I saw it, there wasn’t anything meaningful outside of people. You had to make your own meaning, pick something to do, and do it. I was still fascinated by religion, and I wrote a couple of plays on religious topics — an absurdist re-telling of the story of the three Wise Men, and a man who had committed suicide finding reconciliation with God in the afterlife.

College hit me like a freight train. I started drinking heavily, and soon my relationship with my high school girlfriend was on the rocks. We broke up over winter break and I became incredibly depressed. During the spring my drinking became little more than an escape from feeling awake; I was belligerent towards my friends. I tried to get with other girls, always without pleasant results. When I found my ex-girlfriend had hooked up with a guy at my friend’s college, I almost killed myself. I stopped myself at the last minute, captivated by the beauty of the snow falling at night. I certainly wouldn’t have recognized it as God’s work at the time, but looking back, it’s remarkably clear that something more than snow was going on there. The whole scene was so peaceful, in spite of my inner turmoil.

It was pretty soon after that that I was introduced to hallucinogenic drugs for the first time. I had smoked marijuana a couple times before, but hallucinogens were something completely different. I thought about my life in a completely different way, and realized how selfish the actions of the last few months had been. Afterwards, however, I closed off again and directed my hostility at the people around me. I kept drinking too — I wasn’t able to fully manage it until my senior year.

I did hallucinogenic drugs a couple more times my sophomore year, and by the next summer I was curious as to what else they were capable of. I had decided on majoring in religion, realizing that it was something I had found interesting for my entire life. During the summer I started reading both psychedelic and Christian mystical literature. During the one “trip” I had on drugs that July I decided that there was something spiritual beyond the physical. I became a pantheist.

I kept studying mystical literature during my junior year. While I found the experiences interesting, I always tried to direct them away from their Christian meanings and towards more general sorts of theology. I also started doing hallucinogens much more often and at much higher doses. I mainly “tripped” with one of my friends — he also introduced me to metal. As the winter approached, my experiences on drugs became worse and worse. I started having “bad trips”, where I would experience extreme neuroses, would receive messages from intelligences outside of myself (at least, that’s how it seemed. I always reminded myself that those voices came from my own subconscious mind.)

During one of these experiences, before the drug had kicked in all the way, a voice said “Why do you need drugs, isn’t what I made good enough for you?” At the time I thought it was the voice of God, yet I refused to listen. Instead, while watching a video created by Timothy Leary, I convinced myself that I was God.

But by the spring it was clear that we couldn’t handle the drugs anymore. I would go into fits where I talked nonsense for extended periods of time. Some of the neuroses slipped out of the trips and into my daily life. I would feel sensations on my skin that were not there, would have to constantly check to make sure I hadn’t misplaced anything. During one “trip” we found one of my friends in our bathtub, shaking and clutching at himself, desperately begging for forgiveness.

I had started reading books on magic. I became convinced that there was a structure of the universe based on the number five, and I created a type of pentagram to illustrate it. I attribute a lot of my interest in magic to the anarchist and Discordian Robert Anton Wilson, who was a psychedelic writer of the same type as Leary. I didn’t actually start trying to practice magic until the next winter, but I became convinced of my ability to achieve anything simply through the force of my own will.

That summer, I discovered Current 93, the musical project of David Tibet. Tibet had started off as a member of a magical society, interested in Tibetan Buddhism, but by the mid-90s he had converted to Christianity. The Christian symbolism and apocalyptic themes of his music fascinated me. It was an approach to Christianity that I could relate with, and he was a Christian I could relate to. Current 93 would quickly become my favorite musical group.

During my senior year I joined a New Age group — less because I believed in them, and more because I wanted to see the kind of nonsense they performed. I was slowly losing my interest in mysticism, realizing its ultimate irrelevance when one has to actually live in the world and not outside of it. The group confirmed my suspicions. They focused on meditation, lucid dreaming, and other vaguely occult but mostly tedious practices. Once the group smoked marijuana and summoned a spirit with a Ouija board.

I was growing tired of the mysticism, and the magic did very little for me. At the end of the winter, I tried hallucinogens again — the first time in nine months. I had a dissociative experience and nearly killed myself. Later, we convinced one of my friends, a Catholic, to do them. He couldn’t handle them and ran wild through the school’s library.

The turning point for me was this: I went to a religion department meeting where one of my fellow students presented his thesis topic, which was on current Christian demonology. As he presented the idea that cities, towns, and individuals are possessed by demons opposing the work of God, the professors mocked and laughed those very ideas. Then I thought that, for those who believed, there were demons possessing everyone in the room. And I saw what those demons would have looked like: the faces of the professors were contorted, expressing their own smug superiority and arrogance. I was sickened.

It was that spring that I put all of the pieces together. The leader of the New Age group was directing meditation for finding one’s spirit animal. And though I quickly found one, it was quickly supplanted by an enormous crucifix. God was trying to direct me back towards Christ, no matter how I tried to run away from Him.

And I had been running from it, running for most of my life. It was delayed rebellion, my attempt to get away from my mother and father, from my family. But most of all I was trying to make myself God, trying to convince myself that I was the most important thing in the universe. And I was wrong. I was dwarfed by the boundless, quiet humility of Christ.

It came to me then that God had been continually calling me through the whole time I had been running. But God hadn’t tried to force me into faith or belief. God had strewn my life with reminders of Christ so I would ultimately return to Him. The whole engagement with the world’s dark religions ensured that I would return to the true God — my arguments with Christians in my adolescence, my fascination with mysticism and the Apocalypse, my writing of stories and plays about religion, even the voice that told me to stop when I was at the heights of my drug abuse. David Tibet, the new age group, the arrogant professors — that combination got me to the point where I could realize how God had been directing me and watching over me since my childhood.

Since then I have tried to focus myself elsewhere. I used to write strange sci-fi stories and magical rituals; now I’m concentrating my efforts on theology, especially the theology of Christ. I’ve stopped drinking heavily and I no longer do drugs. I try to maintain a safe distance from those people who encouraged me in my debauchery (and there was quite a bit of it.) I have faith that God will lead them back too, though I do not know how or when it will happen. But it’s still difficult. I’m fairly isolated from others, and I haven’t been able to find a Church where I belong.

If there is one thing I’ve learned from my experiences of the past few years, it’s the importance of humility. Pride comes so easily to us, and we are too quick to decide that we know better than God. We must have faith that God is directing us and learn to trust God’s plan for us, for only through Him we can follow His way and achieve things we never could do by ourselves.

I am still learning. I hope you will keep me in your prayers, so that I may not wander back into the darkness. Thanks be to God.

– Jon

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from religionnewsblog:

Christians in this Himalayan nation who are still longing to openly practice their faith were disheartened this month when the government proposed the kind of “anti-conversion” law that other nations have used as a pretext for falsely accusing Christians of “coercion.”

The amendment bill would punish “proselytizing” that “uses coercion or other forms of inducement” – vaguely enough worded, Christians fear, that vigilantes could use it to jail them for following the commands of Christ to feed, clothe and otherwise care for the poor.

“Now, under section 463 [of the Penal Code of Bhutan], a defendant shall be guilty of the offense of proselytization if the defendant uses coercion or other forms of inducement to cause the conversion of a person from one religion or faith to another,” reported the government-run Kuensel newspaper on July 9.

“There was always a virtual anti-conversion law in place, but now it is on paper too,” said a senior pastor from Thimphu on condition of anonymity. “Seemingly it is aimed at controlling the growth of Christianity.”

Kuenlay Tshering, a member of Bhutan’s Parliament and the chairperson of its Legislative Council, told Compass that the new section is consonant with Article 7(4) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan, which states, “A Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. No person shall be compelled to belong to another faith by means of coercion or inducement.” . . . . .

read the full article here.

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from NewsWithViews:

It seems everyone’s practicing yoga meditation these days. Physicians recommend it to their patients which means it’s beneficial…right? Meditation is said to relieve stress, anxiety, hypertension, acne and post-nasal drip, so go for it! Just tighten those abdominal muscles, inhale deeply and chant Maaaaaaaaa all in one breath and your concerns will drift away like a feather floating on the wind…

But what if you’re a Christian? Should you practice the same sorts of things as Buddhist, Hindu’s and New Agers?

Listen to what the Bible says:

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth, but thou shalt meditate thereon day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Josh.1:8).

Firstly, meditating day and night does not mean to stay awake for 24 hours a day. Secondly, Christian meditation is very different from Eastern meditation. Followers of Jesus Christ are not to sit in the lotus pose in an altered state of consciousness seeking the “God within” like pagans do. The Bible teaches that when Christians meditate our minds are to be fully engaged. We are never to go into a trance-state.

What does meditation involve? “The word ‘meditation’ in Hebrew means basically to speak or to mutter. When this is done in the heart it is called musing or meditation. So meditating on the Word of God day and night means to speak to yourself the Word of God day and night and to speak to yourself about it.”

Before you dive into God’s Word take a moment to ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate your mind and to reveal truth to you. As you read, stop to ponder what God has spoken through the words on the page. Always, always, always consider the context. In Charles Spurgeon’s sermon “Pray Without Ceasing,” he says there are four important questions to be asked:

“What do these words imply? Secondly, What do they actually mean? Thirdly, How shall we obey them? And, fourthly, Why should WE especially obey them?”

Sometimes you need to read a passage over and over…reflect on it…analyze it…and listen while the Holy Spirit speaks truth to you. A word of warning: Listening to God does not require that you “empty” your mind. This meditative practice, called Lectio divina a.k.a. spiritual formation…the silence…best known as contemplative (centering) prayer (CP) is a growing trend in evangelical churches despite the fact that this sort of prayer ritual comes from teaching associated with Catholic mystics such as Meister Eckhart, Ignatius of Loyola, St. John of the Cross, and St. Teresa of Avila. CP was reintroduced by Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, Henri Nouwen, William Meninger, Basil Pennington and other mystics.

Many in the Emergent Church movement (ECM) are advancing Roman Catholic mysticism as well. Yet they insist on being seen as mainline evangelicals. ECM has not only introduced aberrant teaching into our churches, it undermines the authority of Scripture. Gary Gilley laments that there has been a shift from infallible scriptures to “psychological and sociological experts, opinions of the masses, trends of the moment and the philosophy of pragmatism. This shift has been subtle, which has made it all the more dangerous. Few have bothered to deny the Bible itself, they just misquote it, abuse its meaning, force their opinion on it, and if necessary mistranslate it to give the appearance that the Scriptures are backing their claims. The affect of all of this scriptural manipulation is to both erode the authority of God’s Word and to give the appearance that what Scripture has to say isn’t really important. It is only a short step from here to a Christian community that no longer has much use for the Bible.” (This is eerily similar to the way liberals/progressives treat the U.S. Constitution.)

The Body of Christ needs to know who these apostates are. Rick Warren for one. Warren has been promoting CP in his books for years. Other important figures are Richard Foster, Dallas Willard, Brian McLaren, Leonard Sweet, Frank Viola, Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Richard Rohr, Rob Bell, Tony Jones, Doug Pagitt, Dan Kimball and Shane Claiborne. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

Listen to why it can be dangerous:

“It has the potential to become, and often does become, a pursuit of mystical experience where the goal is to empty and free the mind and empower oneself. The Christian… uses the Scriptures to pursue the knowledge of God, wisdom, and holiness through the objective meaning of the text with the aim of transforming the mind according to truth. God said His people are destroyed for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6), not for lack of mystical, personal encounters with Him.”

One should also consider that emptying or freeing the mind can put a person in contact with demons:

“[T]he dangers inherent in opening our minds and listening for voices should be obvious. The contemplative pray-ers are so eager to hear something—anything—that they can lose the objectivity needed to discern between God’s voice, their own thoughts, and the infiltration of demons into their minds.”

Contemplative prayer is almost identical to how the Zen Buddhists meditate. Following is part of the meditation process, “Just be still and know”:

“Sit in the lotus pose (cross legged) keeping your spine straight… put your hands on each other in your lap… Now look at your left hand…just look. Aware of the left part of your body… look at the left hand in an empty manner. Just look. Don’t let any thought pop up in your mind…look blankly on your left hand and try to feel the left portion of your body…feel the left part…feel…This very process will activate your right brain. When the right brain activates, it results in disappearance of thoughts. Your thought will start disappearing…[ Slowly after a few sessions of practicing this meditation, you will be able to instantly achieve this state of disappearance of thoughts]”

In Buddhism repeating a single word is known as a mantra. Many Buddhists simply murmur ommmm repeatedly. When Christians practice CP a word or phrase from the Bible is repeated. Many believers, especially young people, have been conned into believing that saying “I love Jesus” over and over will get them in contact with God. The fact of the matter is this approach to drawing close to God is unbiblical. Thus it should be eliminated from the serious Christian’s approach to and understanding of meditation and prayer.

With these practices and beliefs comes a “virtual encyclopedia of theological error,” says Gary Gilley. Many change agents in the Church are “Progressive Christians” now morphing into “social justice Christians” (SJC). Social justice is doublespeak for socialism. Spreading the social justice gospel is not the good news the Bible speaks of. SJCs want to mold America into a socialist saturated nanny state. Their aim is to redistribute the wealth. Before you buy into the SJC hype, check your history books. In every country socialism has been tried it has failed. Socialism takes away people’s freedoms and ultimately leads to tyranny. So why on earth does America want to copy it? . . . .

read the full article here.

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from Got Questions?

The existence of so many religions and the claim that all religions lead to God without question confuses many who are earnestly seeking the truth about God, with the end result sometimes being that some despair of ever reaching the absolute truth on the subject. Or they end up embracing the universalist claim that all religions lead to God. Of course, skeptics also point to the existence of so many religions as proof that either you cannot know God or that God simply does not exist.

Romans 1:19-21 contains the biblical explanation for why there are so many religions. The truth of God is seen and known by every human being because God has made it so. Instead of accepting the truth about God and submitting to it, most human beings reject it and seek their own way to understand God. But this leads not to enlightenment regarding God, but to futility of thinking. Here is where we find the basis of the “many religions.”

Many people do not want to believe in a God who demands righteousness and morality, so they invent a God who makes no such requirements. Many people do not want to believe in a God who declares it impossible for people to earn their own way to heaven. So they invent a God who accepts people into heaven if they have completed certain steps, followed certain rules, and/or obeyed certain laws, at least to the best of their ability. Many people do not want a relationship with a God who is sovereign and omnipotent. So they imagine God as being more of a mystical force than a personal and sovereign ruler.

The existence of so many religions is not an argument against God’s existence or an argument that truth about God is not clear. Rather, the existence of so many religions is demonstration of humanity’s rejection of the one true God. Mankind has replaced Him with gods that are more to their liking. This is a dangerous enterprise. The desire to recreate God in our own image comes from the sin nature within us—a nature that will eventually “reap destruction” (Galatians 6:7-8).

Do all religions lead to God? Actually they do. All but one leads to His judgment. Only one—Christianity—leads to His forgiveness and eternal life. No matter what religion one embraces, everyone will meet God after death (Hebrews 9:27). All religions lead to God, but only one religion will result in God’s acceptance, because only through His salvation through faith in Jesus Christ can anyone approach Him with confidence. The decision to embrace the truth about God is important for a simple reason: eternity is an awfully long time to be wrong. This is why right thinking about God is so critical.

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