Spiritual Terminology That Should Raise Red Flags

Red Flags

This first post of the New Year is really a continuation of my last post that illustrated how the Progressive Church and the Missional Church make up the book ends of the Emergent Church with all their commonalities. One of the central elements of both ends is the practice of Contemplative Spiritual practices which are nothing more than New Age – Middle Eastern mysticism. I am encountering more and more Christians who have no idea what Contemplative Prayer/Spirituality is and it is horrifying to see them walk right into it because it gives them what they want. An experience. Church, we do not need false spiritual practices to experience God! His Spirit, the Holy Spirit dwells in every born again Christian. We experience Him regardless of feelings and emotions. If He is leading us, we are experiencing Him. It has taken some time to pray through and research the following terms so that I can give the best explanation of them as possible. If we are hearing or seeing these kinds of words in our churches, it is time to find a new church or new church leaders.

Spiritual Director or Director of Spiritual Formation – Leader who is going to teach you and your church contemplative spiritual practices.

Spiritual Formation – Christianized term for contemplative spiritual practices.

Contemplative Prayer – Any of the following: Centering Prayer (focus on internal silence using a sacred word or phrase to experience Divine presence within), Circle Prayer ( a practice of drawing a circle to stand in and pray for that which you want to see God do. This practice comes from the legend of a Jewish mystic Honi. This practice has been brought to the church through books by Mark Batterson), Breath Prayer (An ancient form of prayer where you choose one to two lines to meditate on as you inhale and exhale over them. An example of a prayer commonly used in this practice is the Jesus Prayer.)

Imaginative Prayer or Ignatian Contemplation – Basically you use your imagination to create and experience the sights and sounds of the scene of the text you have placed yourself in. This practice is meant to bring your whole self into the presence of Christ. This is meant to lead into a time of silence.

Lectio Divina or Divine Reading – This is a traditional Benedictine/ Monastic practice of interpreting scripture – popular in liturgical churches . It has four steps, reading, meditating, praying, and contemplating. You meditate on a single word or phrase from the text. The focus of this practice is not theological understanding such as biblical context etc. instead the practitioner enters into the text with Jesus. Intended to lead into silence.

The Silence or Contemplative Silence – Is the awareness of being drawn into the spaciousness of Love. According to a contemplative life website (which has a very interesting image on it) This Silence is not something that is necessarily done but rather a response to ‘being’. It went on to talk about this response there is a yearning for a stillness that draws you inward and propels you into the world. It stirs within all kinds of feelings and emotions as well as raising to consciousness aspects of personality and community that need healing. (This is why you will find just about every social justice activist practices Contemplative Spiritual practices.)

The Presence – I guess simply put it is experiencing the Divine Presence. It is the heart of Contemplative practices. This can be any “god” he or she etc.

Contemplation – I went to one of the most popular mystics there is for this one. I’m just going to quote R. Rohr and let the explanation come from the horses mouth. He says, “In short, contemplation might be described as entering a deeper silence and letting go of our habitual thoughts, sensations, and feelings in order to connect to a truth greater than ourselves.” Um, a truth? hmmm? He then goes on to mention some of the different forms of ‘contemplation’ that people practice such as Centering Prayer and Breath Prayer, other expressions like dancing, Yoga (this is Hinduism), drumming, ecstatic singing or chanting. I have been a Believer for over 30 years – this is NOT biblical stuff. Last, he mentions, “Contemplation is a word that is not easily defined. It has ancient roots and is continually evolving.”

Soul Care (spiritual direction) – Popular term for the use of contemplative practices in peoples personal well being. This is popping up in more and more churches. You might also encounter it in counseling especially mental health or addiction counseling.

Mantras/Rhythms – Ancient (Middle Eastern) practice. A mantra is a sacred utterance (syllable, word or verse) that is considered to possess mystical or spiritual ability to produce a desired or intended result. As you chant you create a rhythm. They are used to focus or center the mind.

Higher Self – It’s basic premise describes an eternal, omnipotent, conscious and intelligent being, who is one’s self. Also know as as the transcendental Self, or Purusha. In Hinduism it means the Divine Self.

True Self – Richard Rohr says, “Your True Self is a tiny little flame of this Universal Reality that is Life itself, Consciousness itself, Being itself, Love itself, Light and Fire itself, God’s very self.” Basically, the True Self in every person is God. Hmmm…

Enneagram – Spiritual psychology system based on ancient Sufi (Islamic) mysticism. R. Rohr explains that the Enneagram is intended to help you live more fully as your True Self. It is intended to be done along with contemplative practices.

Labyrinth – Ancient spiritual discipline of walking a marked (patterned) path. It is intended to foster contemplation and spiritual transformation. It is rooted in paganism.

Mandalas – Middle Eastern sacred circles used to facilitate centering and meditation.

New Age – An eclectic range of beliefs and practices based on Middle Eastern religion. Strong focus on the spiritual authority of self.

Mysticism – Eastern meditation. The spiritual belief that a connection can be obtained with “God” or the spirits (hmmm) through thought and meditation. In this meditation is the emptying of one’s self, the inner silencing etc.

Monasticism – Institutionalized religious practice or movement whose members attempt to live by a rule that requires works. This is a huge part of the model for the Missional church movement.

Asceticism – The practice of abstaining from worldly pleasure often with a spiritual focus.

Ecumenism – It is basically the unifying of different Christian denominations over sacrament rather than doctrine. The draw of all denominations into Catholicism = one world religion.

Universalism – Religious belief that because every human is created in the image of God, that sooner or later every person will be reconciled to God. This is why our churches need to teach the difference between what the Bible teaches about being created in God’s image and what it actually teaches regarding those who are Children of God.

Desert Fathers/ Mothers – Early 3rd Century monks and nuns who lived in the Egyptian desert. They were the beginning or as one author put it the ‘head waters’ of “Christian” contemplative/mystic practices. They drew from Middle Eastern religion.

Ancient Wisdom – Pre- Christian knowledge, philosophy and beliefs.

Church, it is time to wake up! None of this is supported by scripture unless you use scripture out of context. All of these things are under the umbrella of contemplative spirituality and outside of biblical Christianity. I said in the beginning of this post that this is one of the commonalities between the Progressive church and the Missional church, the other two main staples are ecumenism and social justice/social activism. The Emergent church is not dead, it hasn’t disappeared and it isn’t going to! This movement is leading right into the last days. The missional/micro-church is the leading threat to evangelical churches right now! Some of its most prominent leaders very openly practice and draw from the things I have written about. If your church has incorporated any of these into what they teach, you need a new church or you need new leadership. There are churches using contemplative practices as a model of how to pray or study scripture. Why? That is just as bad as the full practice of these things! This stuff is all rooted in false religion and the occult. That’s it. StraightUp!

Hey Caesar, I Don’t Think So!

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I started looking into Caesar Kalinowski back in the summer of 2019 after watching some teaching of his that a pastor had shared on social media and found the teaching to be a bit unbiblical. I have read a couple of his books, listened to many of his podcasts, looked at who he is closely associated with and it is not encouraging. I continue to check out his social media and podcasts from time to time, most is just repeated material (he doesn’t really have much to say just pushing the same garbage in different ways). This is a guy who is influencing hundreds of pastors and leaders in evangelical churches across the country and even a few in my state and that is very concerning. A few weeks ago Caesar did a podcast on “Being Salt and Light in a Divided Culture “. He has some rather unbiblical suggestions for the “Christian” so this post is going to address these things.

One of the first things in this podcast that should be a red flag is Caesar’s mentioning of early Mystics, these are not NT Christians nor did they practice biblical or historic Christianity as we see in scripture. Emergent Missional Progressive Christians today are very much drawn to Catholic practices, Contemplative Spirituality and the like. These are dangerous things to bring into the NT Church. The NT Church’s main and only source of authority and teaching is the Bible, The Word of God, not the writings of early Mystics, not the Catechism or anything else. Another problematic view expressed by Caesar is the ‘drawing closer as humanity’ idea. We are not called to unite humanity (this is the goal of a one world society); not all people belong to God. All people were created in His image as taught in Genesis, but that is it. When Christians try to unite with the world we are unequally yoking ourselves to it and we are told in scripture not to be unequally yoked 2 Cor. 6:14 (not to be in a tight relationship with unbelievers in relationship, business etc.) The idea of uniting humanity is universalism and ecumenical. The Bible says that those who have put faith in Jesus Christ are His children (Gal. 3:26, John 1:12) and those who have not are children of darkness (Eph. 5:8, 1Thess. 5:5). There is no drawing together as humanity because Light cannot mix with darkness. Our culture appears to have many things ‘dividing’ people today, but in reality the heart of the division is good vs. evil, right vs. wrong, the Christian view vs. the secular view. In Matthew 10:34 Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” That sword is Truth. There is no drawing closer as humanity, the Christian is to be united with other believers not all of humanity.

Along with this idea of drawing closer as humanity is the thought of respecting each other’s differences, which no two people are a like so this is a simple concept, however he is not talking about the natural differences between people, he is talking about racial issues, political issues, gender issues etc. If we would just respect each other’s differences we could draw closer as humanity. Well, no actually. Caesar goes on to encourage his followers to advocate for the underdog and the marginalized regardless of which side of an issue they are on (politically, racially, gender) it sounds really nice, but it is not biblical. Caesar says, “Be an advocate for the underdog. You’re not condoning anything.” Well, actually that is exactly what it means. If I decide to advocate for someone who is on the political side of being pro-abortion, then I am condoning abortion. So what about those on the LGBTQ issue? What about those who are ‘marginalized’ because they are buying into the systemic racism (Marxism which is antithetical to biblical Christianity) propaganda? Christian, YOU CANNOT ADVOCATE FOR THAT WHICH IS IN OPPOSITION TO GOD AND HIS WORD.

To Advocate: a person who publicly supports or recommends a particular cause or policy.
He goes on to say the Church is divided (I would also say that he is also speaking about the separation of the evangelical church & the Catholic church), yes it is mostly because many churches are following unbiblical ideas like the social justice gospel (which if you haven’t picked up on it is a subtle undertone in the things Caesar is talking about), you have churches teaching the junk like he is pushing and then you have a few who are trying like crazy to honor God by sticking with a Biblical worldview and choosing to support those who promote the ideals that are most inline with that view. He basically mocks the Church for ‘retreating’ into its Christian bubble and isolating themselves. Speaking out against abortion, taking a stand for the biblical view of sexuality and marriage and rejecting Critical Race Theory is not “retreating into a Christian bubble” it is standing for the truth of who God is and what He says. If you aren’t willing to stand up for that, you are not a born again Christian. Caesar talks about justice and doing good, unfortunately he takes the scriptures that he reads out of context to fit his narrative (as do all emergent missional progressive Christians). People are constantly yelling for justice, just look at the most recent events in the news, it is all about getting justice. The problem is that this ‘justice’ is not biblical justice. God is the root of what is right and just; you cannot have justice without Him. The Bible makes clear that God is a just God; there will be a day that every wrong done to me will be righted, it will be avenged by Him. I don’t have to fight for justice now, it is coming. Justice biblically is about what is right and in most scriptures that speak about it the idea is not taking advantage of people, not cheating people in legal matters (judges not to take bribes or favor one over the other) and we know that we are to show ‘charity’ to those in need, to watch out for widows and orphans, but these things do not mean equality. He talks about erring on the side of grace. (You have to have truth) Without truth then we accept and tolerate sin; Christian, we cannot do that. He also says that repentance means ‘to return’… uh, nope. Repent – Greek (metanoeo) Biblical usage; to change one’s mind; heartily to amend with abhorrence of one’s past sins. Repentance (metanoia ‘change of mind’) involves a turning with contrition from sin to God; Repentance is making a complete change of direction and walking in righteousness.
Another red flag is Caesar’s continued use of scripture out of context and his constant use of the Message paraphrase. Eugene Petersen the author of the Message was a Emergent Progressive Christian. (The Message removes the following: God’s Holy name, Occult Spirituality, Sinful Nature, Consequences of Occult involvement, Homosexuality and Adultery, Obedience and Grace, Sexual immorality). These removals are why most Emergent Missional Progressive Christians use the Message a lot. The use of this for teaching or anything is a red flag. He talks about Matthew 5:13-16 being the salt and the light… which he uses out of context. The disciples (therefore believers) as salt we are supposed to purify a corrupt world (not be like it) through righteous living and the proclamation of the gospel. (not what he is promoting in the podcast) he tries to make this about ‘grace’ all grace no truth.

A light to the world that Jesus’ disciples (therefore believers) are to be an extension of His ministry, they and now us keep it going, His ministry of carrying salvation (the gospel) to the ends of the earth. If a disciple or believer is not proclaiming the gospel of salvation he is not a true disciple. (let that sink in) what are you hearing in your churches today? As a light to the world the disciple should no more hide his righteousness or the gospel message than a lit up city at night should turn off the lights. The gospel of Jesus Christ is meant for all people (regardless of ethnicity, wealth or lack of) and our good deeds (being a godly husband, wife, parent, friend, in how we conduct business, helping someone in need etc.) are a reflection of our righteousness (right living) they are not the means to our righteousness (they do not save us) Eph. 2:8-9. It is not about grace. It is about living for the Lord rightly and letting what is in us come out in doing good (which takes different forms).

Then he used Matthew 25:40 out of context. He tries to say that when we do good to the least (the underdog and the marginalized) that we are showing love to Jesus…not what this passage is about at all. Caesar makes a comment in regard to people like me who point out that brothers and sister are fellow Christians not everyone, well this passage doesn’t support his statement at all. This is a passage where Jesus is speaking about the coming judgement where He will separate the sheep from the goats. Understand, this is still yet to come. Christians don’t gain heaven by good deeds, they are a reflection or evidence of those who are righteous and belong to Christ, a lack of good deeds shows that one is among the goats. Okay. The idea that Caesar is saying that when we stick up for the underdog we are doing it to the ‘least of these’ is bogus. “You did it to the least of these brothers (depending on translation) sisters of Mine” deeper study and even in my study Bible that has Emergent garbage in it speaks to this indicating that Jesus had in mind Jewish believers, especially those who suffer persecution during the Tribulation (the Tribulation is about God’s judgement on Israel) and who receive help and comfort from Gentile believers at that time. This is why He says, “If you do it unto the least of these you do it unto Me” they are believers and even more they are Jews, His people. Verse 40 indicates that these acts of kindness are rendered especially (not exclusively) to Jews and to believers in general. If you study further in the passage (you know for complete context and understanding which Emergent Missional Progressives don’t do) this is still speaking of the judgement to come; those who are not true believers in the Tribulation will not show kindness to believers whether they are Jewish or Gentile, this will also show that those “believer’s” have no connection to Jesus Christ. Their destination is with the goats into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels, which is enlarged for all who are apart from Christ. The only thing we can truly take from this in context is, be there for others in the Body of Christ first…in scripture it is always about the Body of Christ first, then others. We should do prison ministry, help the poor and needy but those things don’t equal social justice and they are never apart from the biblical gospel of Jesus Christ.

If your church, pastors, leaders are using or promoting Caesar’s teaching or are being coached by him, you need to get it out or you need to get out. Church, we cannot ever advocate for that which is in rebellion to God and His Word if we do, we are not His. That’s it. StraightUp!

This was republished to do a syncing cliché.