Ever wondered where Tony Campolo was coming from, and whether or not he is a sound biblical teacher. It would seem pretty fricken obvious when you are quoted on a site called Beliefnet.com where they say that they are a multi-faith website and dedicated in helping you find your own journey. Beliefnet.com is so far out there, that today’s article is – get this – how water is angry at us. Yup, water is affected by our emotions. Anyway I digress.
In an article that was published recently Tony Campolo talks about mystical encounters for Christians, and this new kind of spiritual revival that is happening currently. I have to wonder what spirit is being revived here. I have previously posted about this here – and I have to say that it concerns me greatly the way the New Age Movement has in the last ten years or so infiltrated the Church so easily.
Tony Campolo@Beliefnet: Mystical Encounters for Christians When I sensed that believing in Jesus wasn’t enough and yearned for more, I turned to older forms of prayer. It’s one of the most popular questions of our day: Is America having a spiritual revival? I think the answer is a resounding YES!
But while men and women clearly have an intense hunger for experiences that will nurture their souls, many of these questing spiritual nomads have not found what they are looking for in churches. They have tried the church and have heard theological discourses and social justice sermons, but have failed to discover much that offers them mystical encounters with transcendent spiritual powers. They long for experiences that could create the ecstasies of heart and mind that German phenomenologist Rudolph Otto called the mysterium tremendum.
Ok, so it is quite clear to me that this new emergent church is experienced based. Now that is a dangerous precedent. How do you judge your experiences if your church is not doctrinally sound, and neither is your reading material. I hasten to add that the majority of these megachurch goers are not biblically literate because there is no sound doctrine coming from these pulpits at all. They are seeker friendly with a feel good message, as they lounge on their comfy chairs and have their ears gently tickled for good measure. There is a HUGE problem with that. You will accept anything, because it feels good, it’s gotta be from God coz it feels nice – right? –WRONG!!!
We live in a society – and I thought for a long time our secular society was the only one to embrace the feel good do it scenario, but that clearly is not the case. The Church is saying and doing the same now. How Hedonistic of her. How Liberal of her. How — how fulfilled according to Timothy.
2Ti 3:4 -7: …betrayers, reckless, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it; even turn away from these. For of these are those creeping into houses and leading silly women captive, the ones having been heaped with sins, being led away by various lusts, always learning, but never being able to come to a full knowledge of the truth.
Tony Campolo@beliefnet: Believing the gospel was never a problem for me, but during times of reflection I sensed that believing in Jesus and living out His teachings just wasn’t enough. There was a yearning for something more, and I found that I was increasingly spiritually gratified as I adopted older ways of praying–ways that have largely been ignored by those of us in the Protestant tradition. Counter-Reformation saints like Ignatius of Loyola have become important sources of help as I have begun to learn from them modes of contemplative prayer. I practice what is known as “centering prayer,” in which a sacred word is repeated as a way to be in God’s presence.
The Centering Prayer website has this to say about the origins of centering prayer (lectio devina or contemplative prayer are other terms for it) and its roots. You should always check the origins and roots of such movements to understand their underlying spiritual context. We are told by scripture not to be unequally yoked. So after reading the origins and participators of such prayer, are you sure that it is all innocent and just fine and dandy?
Here is the scripture:
2Co 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership does righteousness have with lawlessness? And what fellowship does light have with darkness?
Now look at where this form of prayer stems, and see if you honestly think that it is ok when you compare it with the Word of God.
The historical roots of Centering Prayer reach back to St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer, Massachusetts, where I was abbot from 1961 to 1981. This was during the time of the first wave of the renewal of religious life after the Second Vatican Council, when many questions were raised for the first time and interreligious dialogue was encouraged by the Holy See. Several of us at Spencer became acquainted with groups from other spiritual traditions who resided in our area. We invited several spiritual teachers from the Eastern religions as well as some ecumenically skilled Catholic theologians to visit and speak with us. Fr. Thomas Merton was still alive at this time and writing extensively about his researches and exchanges in interreligious dialogue. He was one of the most articulate pioneers from the Christian side in the dialogue among the world religions. In a similar spirit we entertained a Zen master who wished to visit our monastery We invited him to speak to the community and later to give a sesshin (a week-long intensive
retreat). For nine years after that, he held sesshins once or twice a year at a nearby retreat house. During those years I had the privilege of making several sesshins with him. On the occasion of his first sesshin held in our monastery, he put on the Cistercian habit and ate with us in the refectory. We have a picture of him on his seventieth birthday eating a piece of cake while sitting in the half lotus posture. We also were exposed to the Hindu tradition through Transcendental Meditation. Paul Marechal, a former monk of Holy Cross Abbey in Berryville, Virginia, a daughter monastery of Spencer, had become a TM teacher and offered to instruct us in the practice. Many in the community wanted to experience it.
What next? I am just waiting for the new fad of ‘Christian Chakras and how to align them with the use of contemplative prayers‘. It won’t be long.
I mourn for the Church, and I am sure God weeps, He is knocking on the door, but no-one is answering.
For an update on the emerging church see my post: De-constructing with a view to Re-construct — What will the tower look like