Friday, October 17, 2008

Of Monks & Monkeys

In my recent reading I've run across several references to the resurgence of Christian mysticism and a related new monasticism. (The string of r words in that sentence alone might throw someone into a trance! Best to read it silently.)

What is this? Well - it boils down to people seeking a direct, unmediated, subjective experience of ecstatic oneness with God in which they might get a message from God. They practice ascetic deprivation and then "meditate" to empty their minds and free themselves of this world so they can be united with God on some new level.

So what are the issues?
  1. God has revealed Himself in the Scriptures. (2Tim. 3:15-17) People who want to know God need to find out objective truth about Him from the Scriptures.
  2. The Holy Spirit of God instructs believers through the illumination of the Scriptures. (1Cor. 2:14-16) He revealed it originally and He illumines it to the mind of the regenerate person.
  3. The meditation the Bible talks about is not like that of Eastern Mystics (Hindu, Buddhist, Yoga, TM, etc.). In biblical meditation people are to think about the revelation of God and it's objective meaning. (e.g., Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:2) Then they are supposed to apply that meaning (including directions for living) into their lives.
  4. The practices of the new mystics and monastics are UNBIBLICAL!
So where does this come from and why?
  1. Much of what is called Christianity has shallowed out into a religious themed party and/or celebration of a can-do attitude. But many people want something "deeper."
  2. We live in an age where autonomy is the highest value. People are much more interested in a subjective experience and a private message than they are in the objective propositions of the Bible.
  3. We are in a post-modern age where truth is thought to be relative and truth statements are viewed with suspicion. Many people will not submit themselves to the authority of the Bible or the preaching of it.
So what should we do?

(2Timothy 4:1-4) I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.


MomE said...

This is interesting to me in the context of Yoga. I had a conversation with someone recently about making Yoga Christian. I had the same basic thoughts as your blog about the dangers of the "emptying of one's mind, etc." but found it a good opportunity to talk about our prayer lives and that very real connection with God. I encouraged her to do her's good physically...but to spend that time/ prayer! Do you think that is a dangerous compromise?

Pastor D said...

I don't have any problem with the exercise part. I could use more exercise myself! But the philosophical underpinnings and the worldview that yoga comes from is very dangerous.