Over the past few weeks I have reflected upon and discussed what I believe to be a major issue affecting believers today. I feel it is very pertinent not only to the situations I have written about regarding IHOP but I believe it to be a wide-sweeping idea that is affecting believers at large.
In the western world there is a prevailing Greek mindset which is so deeply ingrained that it is nearly undetectable without close study. There are Greek philosophies and ideas that have so permeated every aspect of American life that we have absorbed them into just being “American”. This nation has become a melting pot of cultures, ideas, philosophies, worldviews, foods, religions, etc. to the point that it’s difficult to define what is in fact truly “American”. Most being traced to another culture, nation, people group, etc. that brought it to the US when they immigrated here.
One aspect of Greco/Roman philosophy and tradition is the compartmentalization of life. It is the idea of categorizing things as a way of keeping them separate to control them independently of their other parts. In many eastern countries, there is no separation between culture, ethnicity and religion. In Israel, for example, the “constitution” or law of the land is the Torah. What Torah forbids is regarded as illegal in the nation of Israel. In the US however, religion and government are separate so that they can run independently of each other and be governed without influencing each other. (for more on the Greek mindset, check out the audio MP3 files on “De-Greecing the Church” on the Research, Links and Sources page.
As part of this compartmentalization, different aspects of life can be grouped under a new heading to be more widely accepted within a culture. For example, a statue of Buddha or other deity kept in someone’s home is now considered art instead of a god because it has been re-compartmentalized under a heading of “Art: statues, paintings, artifacts, etc.” So if you were to point out to someone that they have a Buddhist god in their living room they would say “No, it’s a piece of art we brought back from our trip last summer to India.” It has become cultural and artistic rather than being seen for what it actually is according to scripture: a false god. Whether the owners of the statue bow down to or sacrifice to isn’t what makes it a god. It’s the very fact that it was fashioned into a figure for worship and is acknowledged and worshiped as a deity by those of the Buddhist religion that makes it a god.
This also relates to the practice of Yoga. Yoga, an eastern Buddhist meditation practice with poses of worship to the sun goddess, has been re-compartmentalized and re-labeled in western culture as a “workout” and you can now buy DVDs on how to practice the various forms of yoga right next to the Richard Simmons’ Sweatin to the Oldies aerobic videos. Yoga is encouraged by the medical profession and the health/wellness industry as a great workout for body and mind, many with complete ignorance of the fact that they are promoting a religious practice. See also this link for more on the religious nature of yoga.
There is also an “inner healing” practice called Theophostics which is making its infiltration into Christian churches and ministries which basically teaches that all current negative emotions are simply triggers of past pain from an initial “first memory” experience in childhood rather than the present event which caused the pain, negative emotion, etc. The part that makes it dangerous is the introduction of guided imagery which has the participant go back in their memory to the initial trigger experience, look for Jesus in the room and have Jesus re-frame that experience through the journey made in the mind. Having witnessed and experienced this from a Christian ministry myself in the past I can attest to it’s virulent influence. In his article “Why Theophostics Is Not Biblical” Bob DeWaay writes:
This process is not “prayer” as defined Biblically. Prayer is not asking God for personal revelations about the meaning of first memory events. Prayer is not about getting revelations at all, it is about bringing our needs to God and knowing that He hears us. Furthermore, the process involves tempting God which the Bible prohibits. I say that because it is asking God to involve Himself in a process He has not ordained.
For example, God did not ordain that Jesus jump from the pinnacle of the temple. Had Jesus done so, expecting God to send the angels to catch Him as Satan suggested the Scripture promised, He would have been tempting God. In like fashion, teaching people that their emotional well being depends on identifying first memory events and gaining personal revelations about the meaning of such event makes them vulnerable. They take the leap into the subjective realm and think that God is going to catch them by providing special revelation. There is no good outcome for this process. Either God gives them what they are looking for and thereby reinforces the false teaching that this whole process is Biblical, or He does not and allows them to be deceived by spirits that are all too ready to hand out secret information. It is pretentious and dangerous to ask God to give revelations, the need for which was determined by a man-made psychological theory. The result is that if the process is deemed positive by the person who submits to it, they think that God has put His imprimatur on what amounts to divination.(source)
Many people practice yoga because it helps them with certain physical ailments, health problems or muscle injuries. People use Theophostics as a healing modality to address negative emotions and experiences and see results. Here is the clincher though: just because it works doesn’t mean it’s biblical. If false signs, wonders and miracles didn’t work, who would believe them? If psychics didn’t reveal secret knowledge, why would people consult them? There is a dangerous belief that has permeated this culture:
–The secular world says “If it works, it must be a good thing.” So they adopt it into their lifestyle, spiritual practice and thinking.
–The religious world goes a step further and says “If it works, it must be a good thing…and therefore, if it’s a good thing it must be of G-d” This is the free pass given to a whole host of false teachings, practices, etc. that have been checked off as okay simply because they show some evidence of having worked.
As believers and followers of the one, only and true G-d we are not called to pursue that which “works”. We are called to pursue that which bears fruit. The kingdom of darkness can dance and sing and enchant you with things that very well may “work” and produce results in the natural realm but they are deviant substitutes intended to lull you away from the truth of scripture…which is the only thing that produces fruit in the spiritual realm.
I’ve heard Christians argue that yoga can be practiced by believers without actually engaging in the worship of the sun goddess because they are just exercise positions or that because in Theophostic ministry they saw “Jesus” appear in their childhood memory when they were being beaten or raped and he re-framed that experience in their mind that it must be a biblical teaching and legitimate method of healing. In like kind, IHOP has taken the same path by following and promoting the teaching of Catholic mystics who re-categorized transcendental meditation by re-naming it and teaching it as contemplative prayer. TM has been around for centuries and is well known in the new age world by that name but the only way to introduce it into Christian practice is to re-name it and insert the name of G-d and then believers will buy in. Bottom line: this is not how G-d says we are to worship Him. Those who participate in what is widely accepted as another form of worship or prayer by convincing themselves it has been “redeemed” because Christianity improved it then sadly, they have been completely fooled. Borrowing a teaching, belief or practice from any secular religion (paganism, humanism, pantheism, Hinduism, etc, ) and tacking it on to the faith we are called to walk in as believers is to fall into another form of grand deception that has hypnotized well-meaning believers into worshiping another G-d.
It is imperative that we guard our hearts and be cautious about what we attribute to being “of G-d” simply because it makes grand claims of the good it can bring to your life. Consider this: since we know that “His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.” (2 Peter 1:3) then if we seek solutions to our present day struggles from these alternate modalities which introduce a solution that does not lead and point us back to the Father, are we not then allowing that modality to be our savior and messiah? Yeshua (Jesus) always pointed back to the Father so then it would be entirely accurate to say that a teaching, practice, etc that points to another source or solution which leads you away from the Father and glorifies another deity, method of worship, etc. is pure and simple idolatry.
Satan is not without power…even though it is a far lesser power. He has the ability to deceive, seduce and enchant humanity with his myriad of solutions to better your life by looking to yourself and your knowledge, experience and worldview as the source to draw wisdom from. We must be on our guard and carefully filter what we allow ourselves to absorb from our western culture. This is how we are we to be in the world and not of it. We must choose lifestyles of holiness–by what we embrace as well as by what we avoid. We must choose the things of the kingdom of G-d and live as children of light (Eph 5:8) and reject that which pulls us away from Him or seeks to steal our loyalty and allegiance. By this we guard our heart and keep it with diligence. (Prov 4:23)