New Age Practices in the Church?

I just read an interesting book review over on the A-Team's Blog about a new book entitled Running Against the Wind by Brian Flynn. Flynn describes his life as an anti-Christian, first looking for hope in sex, drugs and rock 'n roll and later looking for it in Nirvana, meditation, and conferring with the spirits. When he met Jesus Christ, he found the Truth and he found his Hope. Next Flynn goes into his journey as a Christian, and his surprising encounters with New Age beliefs INSIDE the church. He says that New Age practices have slipped into the church, mostly without us being aware of them.
This subject fascinates me as I often wonder how much of our culture affects our Christian Worldview. In my own life, I have discovered so many ways of thinking that seemed unquestionable until I found scripture saying the opposite (my version of feminism, for example).
It is very hard to lift our heads up above our culture to really analyze what parts of our current lifestyles are biblical and which parts need to be thrown out.
I will be getting ahold of this book soon. It will be exciting to challenge another area of thinking and hold up common practices to scripture.


One thought on “New Age Practices in the Church?

  1. I just finished the book “Running Against the Wind.” Although it has some thought-provoking information about some Christians who have gone off the deep end into incorporating New Age Mysticism and Eastern religious practices into “Christian” worship I think you need to be careful reading stuff like that. It has caused lots of divisions at our church by the people who read it and passed it around and now question the judgment and faith of everyone who has ever read a Richard Foster or Brian McLaren book. There are several words that are being used with a huge variety of meanings in Christian circles these days and resulting misunderstanding of each other is evident in this book. “Spirituality, spiritual formation, mystical, meditation, contemplative prayer, inclusive, . .” these mean very different things to different people. The problem with Flynn and his friends over at Lighthouse Trails is that what could have been a legtimate warning for the church has descended into a witch hunt where pretty much everyone who has ever spoken to someone who has done yoga is discredited and suspect. It promotes the (flawed) ideas that 1) You can’t learn anything from someone unless you agree with 100% of everything they have ever said or written over their whole life, 2) If you quote someone or endorse someone’s book it means that you agree 100% with everything they have ever said or written in thier entire life and 3) unless there is specific scriptural endorsement for a practice, it has no place in our churches. (It doesn’t take long to come up with a list of things that pretty much every American Christian thinks of as a normal part of church or devotional life that wasn’t a part of early church practice.) If you check out the Lighthouse Trails websites, you see that they have made it their mission to denounce pretty much every influential Christian leader, writer, or organization you can think of. Plus they seem to hate Catholics, Charismatics, Democrats, and anyone who has ever done something cooperatively with someone of another faith. This is destructive. It’s like it has never occurred to them that the reason they (Flynn and the people who jump on his bandwagon) are being asked to leave churches may not be because the leadership is just so deceived, but because they are not listening when the leadership offers reasonable defenses against their accusations, and unless the leadership comes to see things exactly the way they do, they become gossips and slanderers, promote factions and dissention and attempt to undermine ministries and the spiritual authority of their leadership, all of which requires discipline. I have seen this happen and it’s really ugly. Anyone who reads this book, should balance it out by actually reading some of the authors that are so demonized to hear what they said in context and evaluate the material on it’s own merits. I have read “A Celebration of the Disciplines” and a “Generous Orthodoxy” and the “Secret Message of Jesus” and I think Flynn misunderstands or misrepresents the ideas presented in them. The best thing about the book is the inherrent warning that if you get so obsessed with one specific thing within Christianity to the point that you drop all other activities in pursuit of perfecting that one thing and you stop fellowshipping with other Christians who aren’t into that thing and you only listen to people who like you are obsessed with it, you will probably end up in a bad place. Balance people! But the author needs to realize that the same warning applies to himself.

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