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Summer 2009: Critique of the book Hunger
Publish date: Feb 4, 2010
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Autumn House Publishing produced a book entitled Hunger: Satisfying the Longing of Your Soul by Jon Dybdahl. This work deals with a people who live in a culture of excess, yet remain hungry. Dybdahl rightfully desires to lead the reader on a journey that will satisfy the longing of the soul.
Dybdahl does present some helpful, Biblically sound ideas. However, his suggestion that aspects of Eastern meditation can aid in Christian worship raises some questions. He does identify the difference between Eastern meditation and true worship. But in what way do New Age postures and actions benefit Christian worship? Note how he introduces this issue:
With the rising popularity in North America and Europe of Eastern and New Age religions, questions about meditation have increased. Something that many Christians may earlier have simply neglected they now fear as a subtle way to bring false teaching into the church.
My response is that meditation is like music. A powerful tool for either good or evil, it can be God’s means for growth and inspiration or the devil’s instrument of deception and destruction. Let us look then at the distinctions between Eastern/New Age meditation and true Christian meditation. The differences stem from contrasting concepts of God…At times we will notice occasional similarities between Eastern and Western meditation. Some postures or actions can benefit both types.i
This approach reflects “emerging spirituality,” and is a merger of Eastern and Western forms of meditation. These practices include prayer stations, Taizé, silence, sacred space, ancient prayer practices, spiritual direction, centering prayer, inner light, beyond words, spiritual disciplines, prayer labyrinths, and prayer rooms. They also include contemplative prayer, centering down, “Jesus prayer,” lectio divina, and breath prayer.
Emerging spirituality is widely seen as the answer to modern spiritual hunger. But some of its practices are rooted in ancient religions. They were rejected by Protestants in the past, but are now enthusiastically embraced by modern Protestants who have grown weary of the charismatic movement. These practices are also attractive to conservatives who have had only a head knowledge of their religion. In this critique, we will consider the practices suggested in Hunger, and whether they are God’s answer to our souls’ hunger.
Jesus promised to satisfy the hunger of our souls if we would go to Him and take His yoke. This means working with Him in His mission to save humanity. Do the practices suggested in Hunger align with Christ’s method of stilling our soul hunger?
Breath Prayers—Do They Really Connect Us With God?
Another method of simple praying is the use of one’s own breathing, a form often called the breath prayer. Since most religious traditions practice it, can we consider it Christian? Yes, if the content and context are Christian. The way I use the prayer for myself is to pray for the infilling of the Holy Spirit. I simply say as I inhale, “Spirit of the living God” and as I exhale, “Fall afresh on me!” I find the combination of the words with my breath very powerful, especially as I remember that “spirit” means “wind” or “breath.”ii
Some Christians say that “breath prayer” originated with the Desert Fathers, monks who lived in Egypt during the third and fourth centuries.iii However, it has been used with different words since ancient times in other religions.iv Apparently, the actual words used matter very little. In Christian practice, breath prayer is supposed to silence the mindv so that the soul may communicate with God directly. It is thus related to glossolalia, during which the soul communicates with God in “the language of heaven,” without the participation of the mind.
The Christian example for breath prayers is said to be Jesus on the cross praying, “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Many instructions for breath prayer sound very Biblical, until we look a little deeper.
Breath prayer implies that repeating a simple phrase is beneficial. It also implies that there is benefit to a particular structure in prayer. This harmonizes with Catholic rosary prayer, but not with Adventist theology. We believe that “prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend.”vi
Some promoters readily admit that Christian and Eastern meditation are similar. Vocalist John Michael Talbot wrote this:
One powerful tool for meditation is breath prayer. Many of us exclusively associate this method with Eastern Religions. But it is also a venerable ancient method used in Christian meditation. It has similarities to the Eastern methods on a physical and psychological level, but has its own distinct Christian flavor and tone from a theological and mystical perspective…
With both Christian and non Christian expressions some bodily posture is recommended that will enable the practitioner to stay relatively still and quiet for an extended period of time, say twenty to thirty minutes.
How do we do it? I teach that we must first find a quiet place that will be relatively free from intrusion for the meditation time. Next we sit either in the traditional cross-legged position or in a straight back chair with feet flat on the ground.vii
If we use practices similar to Eastern meditation, should we not expect similar results? Whether the words are Christian or Hindu, the focused repetition of a word or short phrase can result in an altered state of consciousness. This is what some specifically seek, and interpret as an encounter with God.
Those who promote breath prayer also say that Paul asked us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). However, most Christians, including Adventists, understand that Paul was counseling us to be in a constant attitude of prayer. Our minds should naturally turn to God in gratitude and praise when we experience good things, and turn to Him for support when we experience difficulties.
Christian prayer is a way of actively engaging in the service of our Master. When we begin our day with prayer, laying all our plans at His feet,viii we keep our requests in mind throughout the day, ready to respond to God’s providential leading.
Ellen White asks us to “cultivate the habit of talking with the Saviour when you are alone, when you are walking, and when you are busy with your daily labor. Let the heart be continually uplifted in silent petition for help, for light, for strength, for knowledge. Let every breath be a prayer.”ix
God also asks us to come and reason with Him.x He wants us to talk to Him as a friend. By contrast, “breath prayer” suggests a different God who can be engaged through repetition. It suggests that the participation of the mind is not necessary for “experiencing” God. Breath prayer is closer to magic than communication—another substitute for a genuine experience with God.
It is troubling that readers of Hunger might be led to accept this counterfeit type of prayer.
Hunger also Promotes a Spiritual Discipline known as Lectio Divina
The first is a variation of an ancient Christian method called lectio divina, or sacred/divine reading. One reason I use it is that either an individual or a group can employ it. Often I find people are more willing to try meditation personally if they have had a good experience in a group setting.xi
It is unfortunate that Dybdahl does not specifically define lectio divina. What he advocates differs from some of the sources he uses. Is lectio divina innocent, or should we be aware of potential dangers? Notice what one Christian advocate of the practice says:
Lectio divina is Latin for divine reading, spiritual reading, or “holy reading”, and represents a method of prayer and Scriptural reading intended to promote communion with God and to provide special spiritual insights. The principles of lectio divina were expressed around the year 220 AD and practiced by Catholic monks, especially the monastic rules of Sts. Pachomius, Augustine, Basil, and Benedict.
The practice of lectio divina is currently very popular among Catholics and gnostics, and is gaining acceptance as an integral part of the devotional practices of the Emerging Church. Pope Benedict XVI said in a 2005 speech, “I would like in particular to recall and recommend the ancient tradition of lectio divina: the diligent reading of Sacred Scripture accompanied by prayer brings about that intimate dialogue in which the person reading hears God who is speaking, and in praying, responds to him with trusting openness of heart.” Lectio is also said to be adaptable for people of other faiths in reading their scripture—whether that be the Bhagavad Gita, the Torah, or the Koran. Non-Christians may simply make suitable modifications of the method to accommodate secular traditions. Further, the four principles of lectio divina can also be adapted to the four Jungian psychological principles of sensing, thinking, intuiting, and feeling.
The actual practice of lectio divina begins with a time of relaxation, making oneself comfortable and clearing the mind of mundane thoughts and cares. Some lectio practicers find it helpful to concentrate by beginning with deep, cleansing breaths and reciting a chosen phrase or word over and over to help free the mind.
Do we need to return to ancient Greece and Rome to get to know God through the Bible? These practices led to monasticism and withdrawing from the world. By contrast, Christ sends us into the world. Ellen White encouraged us to apply God’s Word to our lives:
The study of the Bible demands our most diligent effort and persevering thought. As the miner digs for the golden treasure in the earth, so earnestly, persistently, must we seek for the treasure of God’s word. In daily study the verse-by-verse method is often most helpful. Let the student take one verse, and concentrate the mind on ascertaining the thought that God has put into that verse for him, and then dwell upon the thought until it becomes his own. One passage thus studied until its significance is clear is of more value than the perusal of many chapters with no definite purpose in view and no positive instruction gained.xiv
Hunger promotes a Type of Prayer known as the “Jesus Prayer”
A good example of a short prayer is the “Jesus prayer”. Popular in the Russian Orthodox tradition, it has spread widely in Christendom through the book The Way of a Pilgrim. The prayer is biblically based (see Luke 18:38) and says simply: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” You can shorten it even more in various ways, such as “Jesus, have mercy on me” or “Have mercy on me.”xv
This style of repetition is problematic because can lead to self-hypnosis. It is unfortunate that Hunger does not demonstrate how the techniques it presents are different from the techniques promoted by the recommended authors. If a technique is dangerous, it is not enough to be using a different name for God or even to have a different worldview. For example, in The Way of the Pilgrim, referenced in Hunger, we find these instructions:
The continuous interior Prayer of Jesus is a constant uninterrupted calling upon the divine Name of Jesus with the lips, in the spirit, in the heart; while forming a mental picture of His constant presence, and imploring His grace, during every occupation, at all times, in all places, even during sleep. The appeal is couched in these terms, Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me…Here is a rosary. Take it, and to start with say the Prayer three thousand times a day. Whether you are standing or sitting, walking or lying down, continually repeat “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me”. Say it quietly and without hurry, but without fail exactly three thousand times a day without deliberately increasing or diminishing the number. God will help you.xvi
Essentially, the “Jesus Prayer” and the “breath prayer” only differ in the words used. Each uses repetition of a phrase, implying that the repetition of these words has some spiritual usefulness. Again, this is more in line with Catholic teachings than with Protestant teachings.
Furthermore, repetition of the name of Jesus will diminish our reverence for God. Ellen White showed the seriousness of using the name of God repetitiously when she wrote, “Even in prayer its frequent or needless repetition should be avoided. ‘Holy and reverend is His name.’ Psalm 111:9. Angels, as they speak it, veil their faces. With what reverence should we, who are fallen and sinful, take it upon your lips!”xvii
The origins of “Jesus Prayer” are also troubling:
Hesychasm developed, in part, from the quest for apatheia or passionlessness…Monks sought to attain this state through mastery of the mind and body alike, conceived as a unity. They used breathing techniques and repetitive prayers to achieve a state of self-hypnosis, whereby the mind would become completely cleared of thoughts and, it was believed, able to see God. A prayer known as the ‘Jesus prayer’ (first described by John Climacus) was used, which in its basic form was simply ‘Jesus, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ The form of words varied and sometimes was nothing more than the name ‘Jesus’ repeated over and over again. Chanted in time with the monk’s own breathing, the prayer would almost lose all meaning—but this was precisely the intent, since they sought a state of mind empty of thoughts, into which God might move.xviii
This self-hypnosis is an altered state of consciousness. Users interpret it as being in the presence of God. Similar repetition is practiced in various non-Christian religions.xix Although many may be unaware of it, there are distinct dangers associated with these various prayer practices commonly called contemplative prayer.
Richard Foster, an author recommended in Hunger, warned that contemplative prayer is for more mature believers. He says that “we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm” where we may encounter “spiritual beings” who are not on God’s side. He suggested a prayer of protection in which one surrounds himself with “the light of Christ,” saying “all dark and evil spirits must now leave,” and other words to keep evil ones at bay.xx
In another book, Foster said, “So that we may not be led astray, however, we must understand that we are not engaging in some flippant work. We are not calling on some cosmic bellhop. This is a serious and even dangerous business.”xxi
Hunger also indicates the need to pray for protection before meditation: “Begin with brief prayer for God’s presence, guidance, and protection from any evil influence. When we become quiet and open to God, we simply want to make sure that anything that happens is under Jesus’ leadership. The prayer itself helps to quiet people and create the setting for meaningful meditation.”xxii
If these various authors warn of the possibility of meeting evil spirits through contemplative practice, how can we recommend these things to those who really do “hunger” for a deeper connection with God?
Hunger Mentions the Concept of “Centering Down”
Help people begin to focus on the present situation in preparation to hear God’s Word. Sometimes called “centering down,” it seeks to minimize distraction and let people concentrate as much as they can on God’s Word. For example, suggest that they close their eyes. Also I ask people to relax their bodies consciously and to give any physical tension over to Jesus. Often shoulders and neck in particular need to release their tautness. Occasionally people should take a few deep slow breaths or become conscious of their breathing.xxiii
There are many more uses and considerations regarding centering prayer, but it is essentially the process of centering down to the presence of the Lord with you. Centering prayer is taught in all the major faith groups, to a greater or lesser degree: Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist.
Sadly, it is not widely taught in our faith and many Christians who’ve not heard of it think it is “new age” or even “demonic!” These are terms easily thrown about to discredit time-honored techniques of which the hurler of epithets is merely ignorant.xiv
Centering prayer is a two-stage process:
The first stage is to settle into stillness and become aware of God’s presence. Quakers call this centering down. It involves coming into the present moment by quieting the mind, letting go of problems, and releasing distractions.
Find a quiet place and let family members know you do not want to be interrupted. Sit comfortably. Begin repeating a sacred phrase or word: for example, peace, Lord, love, God is love. This helps you quiet internal dialogue and become more God-centered. Repeat your sacred phrase effortlessly, in silence, until you reach a state of stillness. Do not concentrate or work at it, just gently repeat it.xxv
John D. Dreher characterizes centering prayer this way:
Centering prayer is essentially a form of self-hypnosis. It makes use of a “mantra,” a word repeated over and over to focus the mind while striving by ones will to go deep within oneself. The effects are a hypnotic-like state: concentration upon one thing, disengagement from other stimuli, a high degree of openness to suggestion, a psychological and physiological condition that externally resembles sleep but in which consciousness is interiorized and the mind subject to suggestion. After reading a published description of centering prayer, a psychology professor said, “Your question is, is this hypnosis? Sure it is.” He said the state can be verified physiologically by the drop in blood pressure, respiratory rate, lactic acid level in the blood, and the galvanic conductivity of the skin.xxvi
In our own Signs of the Times magazine, an article encourages the practice of centering prayer:
Contemplation is essentially wordless, but its core cry is “I consent to Your presence and Your action within.” (See Psalm 139:1-4; Romans 8:26, 27.) Feel your hunger for connection with the Divine and express your adoration. God is waiting to connect with you (Revelation 3:20), but it may take some time for you to focus. If you are distracted by thoughts, let them float past you without following. One method, called “centering” prayer [author’s emphasis], encourages you to refocus on God by internally saying one of the names of God that you relate to. This can help you to be present to God again.xxvii
Notice the difference between this article’s recommendations and Ellen White’s recommendations:
It would be well for us to spend a thoughtful hour each day in contemplation of the life of Christ. We should take it point by point, and let the imagination grasp each scene, especially the closing ones. As we thus dwell upon His great sacrifice for us, our confidence in Him will be more constant, our love will be quickened, and we shall be more deeply imbued with His spirit. If we would be saved at last, we must learn the lesson of penitence and humiliation at the foot of the cross.xxviii
The Signs article says, “If you are distracted by thoughts, let them float past you without following.” In other words, empty your mind. By contrast, Ellen White recommends an active focus on the life of Christ. These are two very different types of contemplation. The emptying of the mind is typical of Eastern meditation.
The silence that Ellen White encourages is essential in order to hear the voice of God. It is not the silence brought about by a mantra-style repetition of words:
All who are under the training of God need the quiet hour for communion with their own hearts, with nature, and with God. In them is to be revealed a life that is not in harmony with the world, its customs, or its practices; and they need to have a personal experience in obtaining a knowledge of the will of God. We must individually hear Him speaking to the heart. When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God. He bids us, “Be still, and know that I am God.” This is the effectual preparation for all labor for God. Amidst the hurrying throng, and the strain of life’s intense activities, he who is thus refreshed, will be surrounded with an atmosphere of light and peace. He will receive a new endowment of both physical and mental strength.xxix
Although the author of Hunger wants to teach ways to still the hunger of the soul, some of his recommendations directly counter the instructions of Inspiration. Thus, they can lead only to a counterfeit spiritual experience. The meditative practices of breath prayer, lectio divina, and the Jesus Prayer are part of a mystical tradition. They span many forms of spirituality that are incompatible with the Adventist understanding of the nature of God and how He makes Himself known to us.
These practices originated in Eastern pagan religions, were adopted by the Desert Fathers of the Catholic Church, and are now being offered to the Protestant community. While the goal of achieving higher spirituality is commendable, the method is flawed. Deeper spirituality is experienced through sanctifying obedience to the Word of God. We should not worship God using practices based on intrinsically false views of Him.
We cannot expect God to work through these practices just by asking Him to, any more than we can pray over an Ouija board and expect that God will answer our questions.
For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).
Eastern-style meditative practices only make people feel spiritual. They do not help to draw them into true fellowship with Christ in His work in this world—a work that is outward-focused, rather than inward-focused. Thus, the spirituality produced by Eastern-style practices is a seducingxxx counterfeit. It is unfortunate that these practices are being recommended in a book sold in our Adventist Book Centers.
Appendix: Authors Recommended in Hunger
It is concerning that the
author of Hunger recommends some books whose authors promote mystical
aspects of the spiritual life. Some also specifically encourage the
study of pagan applications:
Thomas R. Kelly: “Deep within us all there is an amazing inner sanctuary of the soul, a holy place, a Divine Center, a speaking Voice, to which we may continually return…It is a Light Within that illumines the face of God and casts new shadows and new glories upon the human face…Here is the Slumbering Christ, stirring to be awakened, to become the soul we clothe in earthly form and action. And He is within us all…The Inner Light, the Inward Christ, is no mere doctrine, belonging peculiarly to a small religious fellowship, to be accepted or rejected as a mere belief. It is the living Center of Reference for all Christian groups - yes, and of non-Christian groups as well who seriously mean to dwell in the secret place of the Most High.” —A Testament of Devotion (HarperSanFrancisco, 1996): 3.
Henri J. M. Nouwen: “The quiet repetition of a single word can help us to descend with the mind into the heart...This way of simple prayer...opens us to God’s active presence.” —The Way of the Heart (San Francisco, CA: Harper, 1991): 81.
Richard J. Foster: “[W]e must be willing to go down into the recreating silences, into the inner world of contemplation. In their writings, all of the masters of meditation strive to awaken us to the fact that the universe is much larger than we know, that there are vast unexplored inner regions that are just as real as the physical world we know so well.” —Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (New York, NY: HarperColllins, 1980): 13.
“Thomas Merton has perhaps done more than any other twentieth-century figure to make the life of prayer widely known and understood…his interest in contemplation led him to investigate prayer forms in Eastern religion...[he is] a gifted teacher” —Renovare, Richard J. Foster, Emilie Griffin, Spiritual Classics (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2000): 17.
Thomas Merton: “If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are…I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other…At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth…This little point...is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody” —Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1989): 157, 158.
Morton Kelsey: “You can find most of the New Age practices in the depth of Christianity [Christian church tradition]” —“In the Spirit of Early Christians,” Common Boundary Magazine (Jan/Feb 1992): 19
Tilden Edwards: “This mystical stream [contemplative prayer] is the Western bridge to Far Eastern spirituality” —Spiritual Friend: Reclaiming the Gift of Spiritual Direction (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1980), 18-19.
Thomas Keating: A Trappist monk who began teaching a form of
Christian meditation that grew into the worldwide phenomenon known as
centering prayer. Twice a day for 20 minutes, practitioners find a
quiet place to sit with their eyes closed and surrender their minds to
“God.” “My acquaintance with eastern methods of meditation has
convinced me that . . . there are ways of calming the mind in the
spiritual disciplines of both the east and the west…Many serious
seekers of truth study the eastern religions.” —Open Mind Open Heart: The Contemplative Dimension of the Gospel (Warwick, NY: Amity House, 1986), 37.
“We should not hesitate to take the fruit of the age-old wisdom of the East and “capture” it for Christ. Indeed, those of us who are in ministry should make the necessary effort to acquaint ourselves with as many of these Eastern techniques as possible…Many Christians who take their prayer life seriously have been greatly helped by Yoga, Zen, TM and similar practices.” —M. Basil Pennington, Thomas F. Clarke, Finding Grace at the Center: The Beginning of Centering Prayer (Still River, MA: St. Bede Publications, 1978), 5-6.
“If you are aware of no thoughts, you will be aware of something and that is a thought. If at that point you can lose the awareness that you are aware of no thoughts, you will move into pure consciousness…A fifth kind of thought arises from the fact that through the regular practice of contemplative prayer the dynamism of interior purification is set in motion. This dynamism is a kind of divine psychotherapy, organically designed for each of us, to empty out our unconscious.” —Foundations for Centering Prayer and the Christian Contemplative Life (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2002): 64, 82.
M. Scott Peck: “Since the unconscious is God all along, we may further define the goal of spiritual growth to be the attainment of Godhood by the conscious self. It is for the individual to become totally, wholly, God.” — The Road Less Traveled (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978), 283.
“Zen Buddhism should be taught in every 5th grade class in America.” —Further Along the Road Less Traveled (Simon & Schuster Audioworks, 1992).
“Christianity’s greatest sin is to think that other religions are not saved" —Further Along the Road Less Traveled (Simon & Schuster Audioworks, 1992).
“If the New Age can reform society rather than just adversely challenge it then it can be extremely holy and desperately needed.” —Further Along the Road Less Traveled (Simon & Schuster Audioworks, 1992).
i. Jon Dybdahl, Hunger: Satisfying the Longing of Your Soul (Hagerstown, MD: Autumn House Publishing, 2007), 61.
iii. William Gaultiere, Ph.D., “Spiritual disciplines for the Soul: Breath Prayers,” Christian Soul Care, 2006. This article provides a good introduction to breath prayer by a Christian proponent.
iv. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing (Silverton, OR: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2006), 75. For instance, it is part of yoga: “I once related Foster’s breath prayer method to a former New Age devotee who is now a Christian. She affirmed this connection when she remarked with astonishment, ‘That’s what I did when I was into ashtanga yoga!’”
v. Brian Flynn, Running Against the Wind (Silverton, OR: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2005), 199. “Breath prayer…is used or described as a technique to silence the mind or supposedly to ‘practice the presence.’ Richard Foster also advocates breath prayers as a method to achieve the same purpose. Remember it is repetition that brings one into an altered state of consciousness. Breath prayers are just another way of using meaningless repetition to gain an altered state. The practitioners believe they will feel closer to God through this method.”
vi. Ellen G. White, “The Power of Prayer,” Signs of the Times (January 29, 1902). “Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. In the secret place of prayer, where no eye but God’s can see, no ear but His can hear, we may pour out our most hidden desires and longings to the Father of infinite pity; and in the hush and silence of the soul, that voice which never fails to answer the cry of human need, will speak to our hearts.”
vii. John Michael Talbot, “Breath Prayer,” Living Water.
viii. Ellen White, Steps to Christ (Battle Creek, MI: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1892), 70. “Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, ‘Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.’ This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ.”
ix. Ministry of Healing, 510.
x. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (Isaiah 1:18).
xi. Hunger, 62.
xii. It is of interest that Philo, the Jew, set up a system of thought that was adopted by some of the early Church fathers and prepared the way for the changes that caused Jesus to say to the church at Ephesus, “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4). This system of thought was later adopted by the school at Alexandria whose allegorization method of interpreting the Bible set the foundation for the heresies of the Roman Catholic Church. Kees Waaijman, John Vriend, Spirituality: Forms, Foundations, Methods (Peeters, 2002).
xiii. D. Baker, “Lectio divina: Toward a Psychology of Contemplation,” (doctoral dissertation, Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2002).
xiv. Ellen G. White, Education (Oakland, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1903), 189.
xv. Hunger, 52.
xvi. Anonymous (translated by RM French), The Way of a Pilgrim and the Pilgrim Continues His Way (New York, NY: HarperOne, 1991), 7-8, 13.
xvii. Education, 243.
xviii. Jonathan Hill, Zondervan Handbook to the History of Christianity (Oxford, England: Lion Hudson, 2006) 137-138.
xix. Luis Vas, “The Path of Japa” (May 2004).
“Repetition of any mantra or name of the Lord is known as Japa. From Buddhists to Muslims, Christians to Sufis, this path is hailed as one of the most meritorious forms of prayer in many spiritual traditions…Japa (muttering is one of its meanings in Sanskrit) practice is perhaps the highest common spiritual factor among all religious traditions. It is a discipline involving the (silent, or sub-vocally muttered, or chanted aloud) invocation of a word or phrase, usually pertaining to the divine, sometimes termed a mantra. It is practiced among Hindus—across the board from the Vedantists to the followers of Sri Ramdas at Anand Ashram in Kerala—Buddhists, Sufis and Christians alike. Moreover, despite its apparent simplicity, it is regarded as one of the most meritorious forms of prayer in all these traditions…Japa spirituality is not unknown among Christians either. But it is most prevalent among Orthodox Christians, less so among Catholics and Protestants. A famous Orthodox Christian prayer is known as the Jesus Prayer or the Prayer of the Heart, and goes: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Have Mercy On Me.
Basil Pennington, Centering Prayer (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1980), 32-33. http://www.kyrie.com/cp/a_gift_from_the_desert.htm. “The desert tradition out of which this teaching on prayer of John Cassian, The Cloud of Unknowing, and Centering Prayer evolved is the same as that from which the Jesus Prayer issued. However, while Abba Isaac gave St. John a word from the Psalms: ‘O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me,’ the Eastern current derived its source from two passages of the New Testament - that of the blind Bartimeus and that of the publican - to form the well-known prayer: ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ In time, especially under the long domination of the Moslems, the Eastern Christian tradition was enriched or modified by other influences from the East. Thus today the expression ‘The Jesus Prayer’ is a blanket covering a variety of methods. The most highly developed, psychosomatic expression of the Jesus Prayer, presented by Nesophorus of Jerusalem and St. Gregory of Sinai (who actually learned it in Crete and brought it to the Holy Mountain) in the fourteenth century, and by St. Gregory Palamas in the century following, reproduce even to details the dhikr method of the Sufis of the thirteenth century. The Name used by the Sufis, of course, was Allah, while that used by the Orthodox Christians was the Name of Jesus. This dhikr method in its turn reproduces down to details the nembutsu method of meditation used by Buddhists in the twelfth century. We do not necessarily have to postulate a dependency. It may be that spiritual masters coming out of related cultures evolved similar methods.”
xx. Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 1992), 156-157.
xxi. Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline, (San Francisco, CA: Harper and Row, 1978), 16.
xxii. Hunger, 63.
xxiv. John W. Price, “Centering Prayer” (updated September 15, 2002.
xv. Christine N. Karcher, “Spiritual Relationship Help & Building Self Esteem,” Relationships of Grace (2003).
xvi. John D. Dreher, “The Danger of Centering Prayer,” This Rock Vol. 8, No. 11 (November 1997).
xvii. “Stillness Is Golden,” Signs of the Times—Australia/New Zealand Vol. 119 (November 2004).
xviii. Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Battle Creek, MI: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1898), 83.
xix. Ministry of Healing, 58.
xxx. Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church Vol. 8 (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 1904), 293. “The experience of the past will be repeated. In the future, Satan’s superstitions will assume new forms. Errors will be presented in a pleasing and flattering manner. False theories, clothed with garments of light, will be presented to God’s people. Thus Satan will try to deceive, if possible, the very elect. Most seducing influences will be exerted; minds will be hypnotized.”
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Can we understand the age of the earth by the rocks? What theory does the evidence support?
What does the fossil record show us? Is it all random or a defined science that we can understand? Where does evolution fit? Uncover mysteries in the history of the Earth.
As we study the genome, the molecule, and the atom, we see a vast network of intricate systems beyond our understanding. Were these systems really formed by chance?
How did this world change from the perfection depicted in Genesis to a world full of thorns, thistles, parasites, and death? If God made everything perfect, how could it have all been so changed?
Archaeology and prophecy have proven the Bible to be true. But what's so special about the Bible that makes it a point of so much controversy?
Music is a powerful emotional motivator that crosses cultural and language barriers. Its message can be understood by every culture and people across the planet.
What is the system of worship found most often in our society? Does it glorify God?
Research has shown that our sensitivity to stimuli reduces itself yearly by about 1%. Is your brain hibernating?
Beware of the television's abilities to hypnotize, alter moods, and even cause depression.
Like music and movies, video games are addictive and can cause behavioral problems.
What is the origin behind this popular festival celebrated every October 31?
Read proof that throughout the Roman Church's history, the Papacy has often claimed that the Pope is divine.
This book "Cross and Crown" is a powerful and thrilling recital of the most romantic and dramatic incidents in history to be found on record, told in the simplest, most graphic, and entertaining form.
The historian Ranke says this about Protestant-Catholic relations: "In the year 1617, everything betokened a decisive conflict between them. The Catholic party appears to have felt itself the superior. At all events it was the first to take up arms."
This article highlights quotes from historical and Catholic sources proving the Papacy's aggressive nature.
This article highlights quotes from historical and Catholic sources proving the Papacy's aggressive nature.
Dive into history to uncover the remarkable stories of faith and passion in early Protestantism.
Language can be used to communicate both truth and lies. Learn about the religious doublespeak being used to pull the wool over the eyes of the world.
Hegelian dialectic thinking is applied in many situations in world politics. Often the ordinary people are used as pawns in the game of Hegelian psychology played by those who pull the strings of world control.
Read this classic work by Ellen G. White.
How will Christ return, and what will it mean for His people?
What are the trends in the religious world today? Sun Worship, The UN and the One World Religion, Eastern Mysticism and Spiritism... Just what do all these things mean in light of Bible prophecy?
Most people can understand the reasoning behind nine of the Ten Commandments—don't kill, don't lie, don't steal. But what about the Sabbath Commandment? Why would God give such a law? Why should we follow it?
How will Christ return, and what will it mean for His people?
Can the Bible be trusted to provide answers to our questions? Does it contain truth? Learn about the evidence that proves the Bible's authenticity.
Is Jesus really who He says He is?
Consider the crucial points of the Christian life.
Is there more to death than the fact that it is the opposite of life? What are the false doctrines involving the immortality of the soul?
Excitotoxins cause physical and spiritual destruction. Learn about the main types of exitotoxins and what can be done to avoid them.
Reports show that red wine may be beneficial to heart health. Is that a good enough reason to start drinking alcohol?
Get the truth about lactose, calcium, and the need for caution around dairy products.
Today's meat and dairy industries are focused on profit rather than health.
The agriculture industry is fast becoming reliant on genetically modified foods. Learn the facts about GMOs and the effects this trend is having on health worldwide.
Most of the bread products consumed today are made of refined grains. Are our breakfast cereals and "fortified" loaves as healthy as we like to think?
Do the stimulating benefits of coffee really outweigh the costs?
Refined sugar is addictive, destructive, and devoid of any nutritional value. Why does it continue to be a staple food across the world?
Smoking leads to massive amounts of sickness and death every year. Can you beat the nicotine?
From mammograms to prescription drugs, the modern medical industry is always presenting a new way to diagnose and solve health issues. But are these new treatments really healing anything?
There isn't one person I have ever met who knew anything about cosmetics, and that is because the chemistry of cosmetics has always been cloaked in secrecy.
Find practical ideas for dealing with depression in these articles about symptoms and treatments.
We are surrounded by unhealthy foods, unwise practices, and even harmful medical advice. Learn how to overcome these obstacles and choose a healthy lifestyle.
These graphs and tables can help you jumpstart your health routine.