A significant reshaping in the religious world is being achieved by a concept of spirituality and movement in seeking after God. It’s across churches, even religions. The labeled it goes under is that of the emergent or emerging church.
The Journey Along Satan’s Continuum into the Practices of the Emerging or Emergent Church Movement, Spiritual Formation, Centering or Contemplative Prayer
Satan’s continuum journey can start with a little bit of attractive error mixed with a lot of truth and good. It depends where your point of entry is – where you are at spiritually when you encounter it – and who introduces it to you. Satan then encourages us on a journey, of a sometimes miniscule step at a time, moving us to where we are accepting a lot of error mixed with a small amount of truth and good. If we could see the end at the beginning we would not start down the road. But at the journey’s start, the destination is not easily evident. The Bible says ‘Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.’Col. 2: 8 Origins of spiritual understandings, customs and practices can be very important in providing clues as to where they might potentially lead us.
We all individually need spiritual revival but must be selective in the route we take to get there. Practices borrowing from the emerging/emergent church movement, spiritual formation and centering/contemplative prayer road maps mix little bits of poison with wholesome food. ‘We may disguise poison by mingling it with wholesome food, but we do not change its nature. On the contrary, it is rendered more dangerous, as it is more likely to be taken unawares. It is one of Satan's devices to combine with falsehood just enough truth to give it plausibility.’ (Great Controversy, 587.1)
Briefly, here are some identifying characteristics of the emerging/emergent church movement, spiritual formation and centering/contemplative prayer. The list is not encyclopedic. For a more detailed descriptive analysis, books like The Omega Rebellion: What Every Adventist Needs to Know(Rick Howard), Omega II: God’s Church at the Brinkand Omega(Lewis Walton), A Time of Departing(Ray Yungen),and Faith Undone (Roger Oakland), in part or in whole, trace the origins, history, subtleties, characteristics, practices, decorative packaging and destination of this mystical movement. Ellen White dealt with the topic in the context of the Seventh-day Adventist Church at the time of John Kellogg using terms like the ‘alpha and omega of apostasy’ and more generally ‘popular revivals’. She strongly warned of the omega of apostasy that would impact just before Jesus returns. We should be on guard against it taking us in. Pantheistic and panantheistic (God in nature and God in us therefore we are like gods, etc!!) concepts form the foundations of the movement.
There are various types of revival happening in different ways and in various places around the world. Australia is not excluded. Some are sound while others have their origins in mystical and New Age philosophy, Catholicism, Eastern religions. In the third quarter of 2011, we studied in Sabbath School the danger of God's people mixing pagan practices and beliefs into their religion. Syncretism is as dangerous and deadly today as it was back then. The ecumenical movement is based on the principles of syncretism – unity in diversity instead of unity in God’s one truth!.
The emerging/emergent church movement is not a church called the ‘The Emerging Church’. The label describes spiritual, so called, revival and reformation practices which when traced to their sources have their roots in Satan’s two original lies – ‘And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Gen 3: 4, 5) It was present in heathen forms of mystical worship (One example is the sect known as the Desert Fathers who were mystics in Egypt of the third and fourth centuries)while the counter reformation originator, Ignatius Loyola wrote extensively on the mystical practices of contemplative/centering prayer and spiritual formation (Books like Spiritual Exercises)
Briefly, centering or contemplative prayer is a term used to describe prayer practices which are repackaged from eastern and mystical type prayer practices that follow the methodology of emptying the mind, repeating mantras, visioning a place or event and listening to your own thoughts, even responding to the people in the scenes being imagined who start to speak to you.
Spiritual formation is a methodology for using a spiritual director to guide you in your spiritual disciplines. The guide, because they are on a higher level of spirituality, is not to be questioned but followed. Ignatius Loyola put forward the concept of following like a ‘living corpse’. (See Fifty Years in the Church of Rome, Charles Chiniquoy). At the journeys start the practices have different names, they come in packages that emphasizes the attractiveness of the good that they are mixed with. Satan fishes with a baited hook. If we take the bait, we also swallow the hook. The Biblical teaching of spiritual growth is one of reasoning, thinking, Bible study and prayer, led by the Holy Spirit. Line upon line, precept upon precept. Testing all things against what the Bible says. Not unthinking obedience.
Spiritualistic deception is the common link between all world religions. It is the means bringing about the three-fold alliance of Revelation 16: 13-14. Don’t be part of it. If you see it in your church, speak out against it.
Pastor Ted Wilson, General Conference President of the Seventh-day Adventist Church said publicly in his July 3, 2010 acceptance speech:‘We must be vigilant to test all things according to the supreme authority of God's Word and the council with which we have been blessed in the writings of Ellen G. White. Don't reach out to movements or mega-church centers outside the Seventh-day Adventist Church which promise you spiritual success based on faulty theology. Stay away from non-biblical spiritual disciplines or methods of spiritual formation that are rooted in mysticism, such as contemplative prayer, centering prayer, and the emerging church movement in which they are promoted.’