Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel
By Warren B. Smith (Chapter Updates)
Chapter 5 Update
Meditation and Contemplative Prayer
Test the Spirits
Walsch: How can I experience Ultimate Reality in any particular moment?
“God”: Be still, and know that I am God.
I mean that literally.
That is how you will know that I am God, and that I am always with you.
That is how you will know that you are One with Me. That is how you will meet the Creator inside of you.
Neale Donald Walsch
Friendship with God1
Not long after our conversion, my wife and I sat down one day and talked about the ultimate spiritual deception described in the Bible—the great “falling away” of the church and the coming of Antichrist. We agreed that for someone like Antichrist to be credible in the world, he would need a majority of the people who call themselves Christians to believe that he was Christ. If he could get enough Christians—especially Christian leaders—to follow him, he could then discredit and marginalize those who oppose him. But to get people who call themselves Christians to believe that he was Christ he would first have to successfully redefine Christianity.2 To do that he would have to introduce non-Christian teachings and practices into the church, while at the same time make them appear Christian. His obvious goal would be to convert undiscerning and unsuspecting believers into a more eastern and mystical, New Age “Christianity.” While invoking the name of “God” and “Christ” he would actually turn the Bible upside down—just as we had seen in A Course in Miracles and in our New Age teachings.
Christianity would become a more “positive” New Age “Christianity.” This New Age Christianity would have “a form of godliness” but it would actually deny the true faith (1 Timothy 3:5). This New Age Christianity/New Spirituality would use Christian terminology but it would be under the spell of “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4). This New Age/New Gospel/New Spirituality would be the ultimate counterfeit and the ultimate deception. It would be what the real Jesus warned his followers to watch out for.
Meditation and Contemplation
The New Age/New Spirituality has continued to make great inroads into the church—particularly in the area of meditation and so-called “contemplative prayer.” Despite grave warnings from many of us that came out of the New Age movement, the church remains extremely vulnerable to deceptive, supernatural experiences that appear to come from God.
We knew from our own New Age involvement that powerful, seemingly “meant to be” spiritual experiences had often been used to draw us closer into the New Age and its various spiritual practices, including meditation and contemplation. And we knew that the same seductive experiences which had led us into the New Age, continued within our meditations and contemplations. Because our spiritual experiences felt so good, we just assumed that what we were experiencing was coming from God. Our meditations and contemplations soon became the primary connecting force that gave us “the feeling” we were on the right track. These daily meditations and contemplations served to reinforce our emerging New Age beliefs, and had the effect of leading us deeper and deeper into the teachings of the New Age/New Spirituality.
For most of us in the New Age, meditation was an integral part of daily life. Because it was so relaxing and felt so good we had no idea that our meditations were opening us up to great deception. Looking back on it now, meditation was the major pipeline through which deceptive spirits impressed upon us their New Age thoughts and teachings. The spiritual “high” that often accompanied our meditations and contemplations seemed to corroborate our emerging New Age belief that we were all “one” because God was “in” everyone and everything. In fact, in my very first meditation I experienced a “mysterious sense of oneness” that I perceived to be my “divine connection” to that oneness.3 One of the daily lessons I contemplated from A Course in Miracles was “Let me remember I am one with God.”4
Ironically, New Age meditation and what is called biblical meditation or contemplative prayer are often the very same practice. One of the clever ploys of our spiritual Adversary has been to repackage eastern mystical New Age meditation as “Christian” meditation and contemplation. In his powerful book Death of a Guru: A Hindu Comes to Christ, former Hindu Rabindranath R. Maharaj describes how even seemingly benign and relaxing forms of meditation and contemplation can be used by the spirit world to provide an experience of cosmic oneness:
Though popularized in the West under many names, the aim of all Eastern meditation is to “realize” one’s essential union with the Universe. It is the doorway to the “nothingness” called nirvana. Generally sold as a “relaxation” technique, meditation really aims at and ultimately leads to the surrender of oneself to mystical cosmic forces.5
Hubbard’s Contemplative Prayer
Biblical meditation is generally understood to be when one prayerfully and thoughtfully considers a passage of Scripture. Unfortunately, many who think that they are practicing biblical meditation confusedly cross over into unbiblical, eastern mystical New Age meditation. Often described as contemplative prayer, biblical meditation may begin with contemplating Scripture. But meditating or contemplating Scripture does not guarantee that what follows is necessarily from God.
A perfect example is what happened to former seeker but now New Age leader, Barbara Marx Hubbard. After she “contemplated” a passage of Scripture, she received a powerful vision that propelled her into her New Age/New Spirituality belief system and eventually into New Age leadership. In her book The Revelation she described what took place after “contemplating” 1 Corinthians 12:12. Because of the magnitude of the spiritual deception I have quoted from her at length.
On a fateful afternoon in February 1966, I was taking my usual daily walk….
I had been reading Reinhold Neibuhr on the subject of community. He had quoted St. Paul’s famous statement: “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” As I contemplated that idea I felt a deep frustration.
…a new question burst forth in my mind. I spoke it out loud. Lifting my voice to the ice-white sky, I demanded to know:
“What is our story? What in our age is comparable to the birth of Christ?”…
I lapsed into a daydreamlike state…. I was poised from within, to catch the slightest hint of revelation.
Suddenly my mind’s eye penetrated beyond the blue cocoon of Earth, lifting me up into the utter blackness of outer space. From there I witnessed the entire sweep of Earth’s history, as though I were viewing a technicolor movie.
I witnessed the Earth as a living body…. I felt myself to be a cell in that body….
Then the movie sped up. I saw something new. A flash of extraordinary light more radiant than the sun surrounded the planet. Instantly, all of us were attracted to the light. We forgot our pain, and at that moment of shared attention, empathy began to course through our planetary body. Wave upon wave of love flowed through all people. A magnetic field of love aligned us. We were caressed, uplifted in this field of light. We felt our inner light rising. Mass healings occurred. People flooded out of their houses, offices, and buildings, meeting each other in ever-growing gatherings, embracing, loving one another….
Then I heard the inner words clearly:
Our story is a birth. It is the birth of humankind as one body….
In response to those words, which had seemed to come from deep within the universe, billions of us opened our collective eyes and smiled. It was a Planetary Smile…. Ecstatic joy rippled through the planetary body… and through me as one of its billions of members.6
All of this “new revelation”—the very foundation of Hubbard’s New Age ministry today—came after Hubbard “contemplated” a single verse from the Bible: 1 Corinthians 12:12. But supernatural experiences are obviously not from God if they contradict His written Word. Not knowing to “test the spirits” she opened herself up to spiritual deception.
While most of us in the New Age didn’t have Hubbard’s experience, we had our own versions. And what we were being taught through our spiritual experiences was that our “experience” should take precedence over any written word or any prior beliefs. In fact, we were told that our spiritual experiences should provide the foundation for new beliefs. And most often these experiences would come during periods of meditation and contemplation.
It should be carefully noted that as a spiritual seeker, Hubbard had been greatly deceived after uttering a contemplative prayer that had focused on Scripture. She would later describe how she started to “regularly” hear an “inner voice” after learning to say the Lord’s Prayer in deep concentration during meditation:
In 1977 I began to meditate, going to the hill behind my home in Washington D.C. each morning. I learned to say the Lord’s Prayer in deep concentration. I started to hear regularly an inner voice.7
This “inner voice” was to become Hubbard’s “Christ voice.”8 She explained how her “inner voice” transformed itself into the “Christ voice” during a “silent retreat” at the Mount Calvary Episcopal Monastery in Santa Barbara, California in 1980. The monastery had described the weekend as a “non-directed weekend of silence open to everyone, to renew inner peace and meet the Lord in the monastic round of Offices, Eucharist, quiet and nonverbal fellowship.”9 Hubbard told how she encountered the “Christ voice” as she sat in “silence” beneath a wooden cross at the monastery:
Early in the morning, as I was sitting beneath a little wooden cross upon the top of the hill, overlooking the world below, the inner voice guided me as I wrote in my journal.10
Then the “voice,” which until now had seemed to be my own higher self, became elevated and was transformed into an even higher voice, the Christ voice. I felt an electrifying presence of light, a field that lifted me up.11
It was at this Episcopal monastery that Hubbard, under the direction of her “Christ,” rewrote parts of the New Testament and began to describe a New Age “Christianity” that mandated a belief in the “Christ within” and a “selection process” to select out those who refused to believe in their own divinity.12
For those who believe that solitude, silence, contemplative prayer, or even biblical meditation are the sole province of God, Barbara Marx Hubbard remains a good example of why they had better think again. Hubbard’s serious contemplation of 1 Corinthians 12:12 and the Lord’s Prayer did not prevent her from being spiritually deceived. What happened to Hubbard, and what happened to so many of us in the New Age, can happen to anyone who chooses to believe personal spiritual experience over God’s written Word. It can happen to anyone who does not test the spirits of what they are experiencing (Hebrews 4:12; 1 John 4:1). And it seems to me that today’s undiscerning church is particularly vulnerable in this whole area of meditation and contemplative prayer.
In our New Age meditations we would often meditate on and contemplate certain passages of Scripture. At an Edgar Cayce conference I once attended, we began each day by meditating on Psalm 46:10—“Be still, and know that I am God.” Looking back on that experience now, I realize why that particular verse of Psalm 46 was used by so many New Age groups for contemplation. The spirit world was only too willing to take something God was saying about Himself and translate it into something that the New Age was saying about man. It was very clever.
We were being “still” and we were quoting Scripture, but we were continually affirming that we were God by emphasizing the “I” and repeating the phrase “I am God” over and over again. We were “going within” to the “God within”—“Be still” and know that “I” am God. In our unguarded state of “being still” we were not being taught that God was God. We were being taught that we were God.
The “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles also used Psalm 46:10 to teach this New Age concept. We were to “be still” and to “know” that we were “God.” This false Jesus actually used the “Be still” verse to preface his false teaching that “the journey to the cross should be the last ‘useless journey.’”13 Our New Age journey was around the cross not through the cross. We were being taught by A Course in Miracles and our other New Age teachings that if we were “being still,” and if we “knew” that we were God, then we didn’t need the cross and we didn’t need Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We could save ourselves by “being still” and “awakening” to the inner “self-realization” that we were God. A Course in Miracles lesson number 70 is “My salvation comes from me.”14
Ironically, Psalm 46:10 was also the founding motto of the pioneering New Age community of Findhorn in Scotland. Co-founder Eileen Caddy distinctly heard the words “Be still and know that I am God” in a meditation, and as a result Findhorn was founded on this New Age misinterpretation of this verse. She describes her “Be still” experience:
Yes, we were like children then, and God was still somewhat like the Father, separate and above us, reaching down to help. But gradually I have come to understand what it means to find that same God within myself….
The first time I heard this voice was in 1953, when Peter and I were visiting Glastonbury, a center of spiritual power in England. I was sitting in the stillness of a small private sanctuary there, when I heard a voice—a very clear voice—within me. I had never experienced anything like that before. It simply said, Be still and know that I am God. What is this? I thought. Am I going mad? I had been brought up in the Church of England and learned in Sunday school about the “still small voice within”—but when you actually hear a voice, it’s a different matter. I was really quite shocked because it was so clear.15
“God” later told her:
What greater or more wonderful relationship could man ask for than the knowledge that he is truly one with Me, and that I am in you and you are in Me.16
Accepting the reality of this oneness came slowly. In fact, at first I felt it was audacious even to speak of such a thing. Yet I couldn’t deny my experience. I know that God is within each one of us, within everything. I feel that the Church teaches about the God outside of us, but that’s the same God as the one within. You can call him by different names if you like, but there’s only one God.17
Eileen Caddy’s New Age understanding of the “God within” and “oneness” started with the “still small voice within” that told her “Be still and know that I am God.” Like Caddy, so many people who have been raised in today’s church have been similarly deceived into believing that the “Be still” verse from Psalm 46:10 is God’s heavenly instruction to enter into “solitude” and “silence” so that they can hear His voice. But trusted Bible commentaries and discerning pastors teach that the real meaning of this verse has nothing to do with meditation or contemplative prayer.18 In reality, God is rebuking the nations of the world and telling them to “Be still!” and to know that He is God. Unfortunately, undiscerning church leaders have misappropriated Psalm 46:10 to justify contemplative prayer. They now use the verse to incubate a “conversation with God.”
There is an obvious spiritual motive for Neale Donald Walsch’s New Age “God” to teach the importance of Psalm 46:10 and the need to “Be still.” Walsch’s “God” wants to communicate with unsuspecting seekers who are diligently meditating and uttering contemplative prayers. “God” tells Walsch:
Be still, and know that I am God.
I mean that literally.
That is how you will know that I am God, and that I am always with you.
That is how you will know that you are One with Me. That is how you will meet the Creator inside of you.19
It is interesting that Walsch’s New Age “God” places such great emphasis on this “Be still” verse. Obviously there is something about this whole “Be still” contemplative prayer/meditation process that opens people up to the deceptive spirit world. So why are Christian leaders pushing “solitude” and “silence” and Psalm 46:10 almost as much as their New Age counterparts? Why aren’t they warning the church about the misuse of this Psalm and the obvious need to test the spirits (1 John 4:1)? Why aren’t they warning that you can’t just Be still—you also have to Be sober and Be vigilant (1 Peter 5:8)? In many ways, today’s Christian “contemplative prayer” movement is sharing the New Age expectation that we can all have a “conversation with God” if we will simply “Be still” and submit to the “spiritual discipline” of meditating on Scripture and engaging in contemplative prayer.
The reason Walsch’s New Age “God” pushes the “Be still” contemplative prayer is because it elevates spiritual experience over the Word of God. The New Age/New Spirituality that is trying to work its way into the church today does not want believers to measure their spiritual experiences by the Word of God. It wants the Word of God to be measured by people’s spiritual experiences. Walsch’s New Age “God” says that his “most powerful message is experience.”20
Now the supreme irony here is that you have all placed so much importance on the Word of God, and so little on the experience.
In fact, you place so little value on experience that when what you experience of God differs from what you’ve heard of God, you automatically discard the experience and own the words, when it should be just the other way around.21
The spirit world is only too glad to jump into the middle of a meditation or contemplative prayer with a “word from the Lord” or some other kind of deceptive spiritual experience. There is nothing wrong with solitude and silence. But believers need to be more alert and understand that there are spiritual forces out there that are totally hostile to Jesus Christ and his followers. Believers cannot afford to put their minds in neutral and assume that because they recited “Be still” or some other Scripture that every subsequent voice and leading they receive comes from God. There is a Deceiver. There are other voices out there. God answers prayer but He does not promise to have a conversation with you because you repeated Scripture and are “being still.”
Warnings about Meditation
In my book The Light That Was Dark, I described how my wife and I had been deceived in regards to meditation. By “being still” and “going within” we had gone further and further into the depths of the New Age/New Spirituality. I wrote that “by going within we had gone without.”22
New Age leader Neale Donald Walsch tells his readers just the opposite. In his 2005 book What God Wants he wrote, “If you do not go within you go without.”23 But this is exactly what the deceptive spirit world wants everyone to believe—especially Christians. They want people to believe that there’s something “special” about meditation and contemplative prayer—that the “discipline” makes you “more spiritual” and “closer to God.” To have a real relationship with God you have to become more meditative and contemplative by entering into the “mystery” of “the silence.” For it is within “the silence” that the spirit world can gain entry into unguarded and unsuspecting minds. It is in this meditative and contemplative space that the deceptive spirit world can begin to provide the thoughts and words and experiences that reinforce the New Age teachings of their New Spirituality. It is through meditation and contemplative prayer that they can introduce the undiscerning person to the voice of “another Jesus” and “another spirit” and the teachings of “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:4).
Many years ago, when my wife Joy was a follower of Indian guru Swami Baba Muktananda and meditated in his ashram, she was continually reminded of the guru’s words, “Kneel to your own self. Honor and worship your own being. God dwells within you as You.” The whole point of the meditation was to become “at one” with the “god within.” But Jesus didn’t tell His disciples that God was “in” everyone and everything. He didn’t tell them to meditate on the divine interconnectedness of all humanity. He didn’t have them go into “the silence” to connect with the “god within.” Jesus did not put His trust in man because “He knew all men” and “He knew what was in man” (John 2:24-25).
I once knew a former California Napa Valley farmer who became a New Age channeler after a voice suddenly broke into one of his meditations and started speaking through him. Many former New Age occultists including Johanna Michaelsen, Will Baron, and Randall Baer have documented the extreme dangers of undiscerning meditation and contemplation—how it drew them further and further into spiritual delusion.24 In The Beautiful Side of Evil, Johanna Michaelsen described how she was deceived in her meditations by an evil spirit that presented itself as “Jesus Christ.”25 When she finally tested this counterfeit “Jesus Christ,” the demonic spirit failed the test and disappeared from her life.26 In her excellent eye-opening book, she explained why Christians cannot assume that their sincerity will keep them from being deceived. She warned that Christians must be alert and should always “test the spirits” of whatever is influencing their thinking. She wrote:
Many of us in the church believe our sincerity acts as a kind of magical protection against all demonic intrusion and deception. But nowhere in the Bible is there a single verse that assures us our sincerity alone protects us or guarantees us automatic immunity from demonic deception. Not one.
On the contrary. The pages of the New Testament are filled with warning after warning to us to “be of sober spirit, be on the alert” (1 Peter 5:8 and Ephesians 6:18)
If we cannot be deceived, then why are we told not to believe every spirit, but to “test the spirits to see whether they are from God” (1 John 4:1)? Jesus Himself has warned us that “false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).27
In his revealing book, Deceived by the New Age, Will Baron wrote that he was also deceived by a counterfeit spirit that called itself “Jesus Christ.” He described how this seemingly biblical “Jesus Christ” took over the New Age organization he was involved in. He wrote how he came to accept this “Jesus Christ” as his “master” and “saviour.” He described that in his meditations this “Jesus Christ” told him to start attending local Christian churches and to start introducing meditation into these churches:
I gradually began to acknowledge the fact that Jesus had taken over our center and that I must accept him as my master. I purchased a Bible and started to attend the weekly Bible-study classes and prayer groups that were being offered in lieu of classes on metaphysics.
The teachings expounded at the Lighted Way evolved into a curious mixture of New Age mysticism and biblical Christianity. We regarded ourselves as New Age Christians. I even began to tell people that I was a born-again Christian. After all, I had given up my Hindu guru and accepted “Jesus Christ” as my master and saviour.
During my meditation periods, I could sense that “Jesus Christ” and the “Holy Spirit” were inspiring me through my voice of conscience, exactly in the manner that Djwhal Khul seemed to have done previously. After awhile, I became devoted to this Jesus. He took over my life.
I was also told to attend regular Christian church congregations so that I could meet new friends and interest them in meditation and other less offensive New Age ideas disguised in biblical-sounding terms.
Avoiding anything too controversial, I presented subtle suggestions here and there. I found quite a few people who were willing to listen to my interesting proposals. For example, a pastor from an evangelical congregation told me it would be a good idea for me to start a meditation group in his church if I could get some people interested.28
With so many undiscerning churches emerging that are now into meditation, contemplative prayer and mysticism, one wonders how many other “Will Barons” had been sent into Christian churches by deceptive spirits to introduce meditation and to infect the church with their New Age “Christianity.” Incredibly, most Christian leaders introducing meditation and contemplative prayer into the church continue to provide almost no warning about how the spirit world can use these practices to accomplish their New Age/New Spirituality purposes. As a result many people in the church today are being deceived by spiritual experiences and leadings that are not from God.
Parallel Mystical Experiences
In 1979, an amazing supernatural experience high above the Pacific Ocean on the California coast led me to an Indian guru, the practice of meditation, and to an eastern mystical New Age belief system.29 Also in 1979, an amazing supernatural experience high above the Pacific Ocean on the California coast led businessman/author Jim Ballard to an Indian guru, the practice of meditation, and an eastern mystical New Age belief system.30 Today, the significant difference between us is that while I renounced my Indian guru, my meditations, and my eastern mystical New Age involvement over twenty years ago, Ballard remains a devotee of his Indian guru, his meditations, and his eastern mystical New Age beliefs.31
The parallels between Ballard’s 1979 experience and mine are striking. Through cleverly orchestrated spiritual events by a deceptive spirit world, we were both led to believe that what happened to us was divinely and benevolently ordained. The spiritual realm that made contact with us made us feel so good about what was happening that neither of us thought to question the source of what we were experiencing. Looking back on what happened to both of us, I understand that what we considered to be spiritually inspired experiences from God were, in reality, carefully contrived temptations from deceptive spirits. But back then I was not aware of the Bible’s many warnings about the spirit world. I didn’t know anything about spiritual deception. And I suspect that this was also the case with Ballard. We had been in the moment and we had gone with the flow. As a result, our seemingly “meant to be” experiences served to catalyze our eastern mystical New Age pursuits.
If we had met back at that time period in our lives we might have had much in common. But today we look at things much differently. While I have written books that warn about the dangers of the New Age/New Spirituality, Jim Ballard has written books that promote the New Age/New Spirituality.
Mind Like Water
In his 2002 book Mind Like Water: Keeping Your Balance in a Chaotic World, Jim Ballard described how his supernatural experience back in 1979 eventually led him to his Indian guru Paramahansa Yogananda and to the practice of mystical eastern New Age meditation. In a chapter entitled “Trust Your Intuition,” he wrote:
One morning shortly after I had moved back to the West Coast in 1979 I found myself running along a path at the top of a cliff above the Pacific Ocean in Encinitas, California…. Feeling the offshore breeze against my face and bare legs, listening to the waves crashing against the rocks below, I exulted in the freshness and the beauty around me….
Then I seemed to hear a whisper coming from inside my body. It formed into a pair of meaningless but mellifluous-sounding syllables in my mind, which gradually grew into a chant. To the beat of my running steps I gave voice to it, feeling a bursting joy: Kah-lee! … Kah-lee! Somehow I knew that it was good and right for me to be doing this. Several months later, a friend gave me a copy of Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi. A few pages into the text, reading the author’s account of his early life in India, I came across these words: “Our family moved to Lahore in the Punjab. There I acquired a picture of the Divine Mother in the form of the goddess Kali.”
I was stunned. No wonder on that morning run I had felt such an abounding bliss on that seacliff run—I had been chanting the name of a Nature god! I later learned that on that morning I had been a few hundred yards from the seaside ashram that Yogananda occupied for many years. Many mysterious experiences led me eventually to the feet of this master, who had left his body in 1952.32
Just as I had not questioned the supernatural circumstances that led me to Indian guru Bhagwhan Shree Rajneesh, Ballard did not question the supernatural circumstances that led him to Paramahansa Yogananda. Yet if either one of us had been seriously reading the Bible back then we might have looked at our spiritual experiences quite differently. I would not have given in to the seductive mystical feelings I experienced with Rajneesh, and Ballard might have questioned the feelings of bliss that he attributed to Kali. Rather than trusting Yogananda’s description of Kali, Ballard might have been very surprised if he had consulted an encyclopedia:
A destructive mother goddess, Kali, is frequently depicted as a black, laughing, naked hag with blood-stained teeth, a protruding tongue, and a garland of human skulls. She usually has four arms: One hand holds a sword, the second holds a severed human head, the third is believed by her devotees to be removing fear, and the fourth is often interpreted as granting bliss.33
Fueled by his supernatural experience with “Kali” and by other various “mysterious experiences,” Ballard was eventually led to “the feet” of Yogananda just as I had been led by my mysterious experiences to “the feet” of Rajneesh. Ballard would eventually take an advanced course in esoteric meditation from Yogananda’s Self-Realization Fellowship. He later wrote, “I continue to consider meditation far and away the most important thing I do.”34 In Mind Like Water Ballard quotes Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God.” to introduce the chapter entitled “Learn to Meditate.”35
Lead Like Which Jesus?
I describe Jim Ballard’s experience because, like my own, it is a graphic example of how so many of us were supernaturally drawn into the eastern mystical teachings of the New Age/New Spirituality—and into the practice of meditation. But I also describe Ballard’s experience for another reason. The Foreword to his 2002 book Mind Like Water was written by Ken Blanchard, a self-professing Christian businessman who happens to be the co-founder of the popular Lead Like Jesus movement. Blanchard describes himself as a thirty-year friend and business associate of Ballard. In the Foreword to Ballard’s book, Blanchard wrote:
Since the human ego is the root cause of the problems we face on this planet, I figure the greatest single contribution any one of us can make toward solving the world’s problems is to work within ourselves to rise above our own littleness and transform the way we see things. This is the whole point of Jim Ballard’s wonderful book Mind Like Water: Keeping Your Balance in a Chaotic World. It’s a set of tools that enables us to work within ourselves to clean up our own acts, so that we can be free to do the work we came to do in the world.
Ever since Jim and my friendship began almost thirty years ago, our shared concern with helping people relate better to themselves and others has led us to collaborate on a number of writing projects….
Jim Ballard’s passion for helping people maintain calmness and balance in their life and work resulted in his writing What’s the Rush? Step Out of the Race… Free Your Mind… Change Your Life. That book in turn led to his publishing an online biweekly newsletter, The Balance Beam. Virtually every person at the Ken Blanchard Companies receives and uses this resource; many of them give Jim feedback on how one or another issue of Beam has helped them toward equilibrium and perspective in their tasks. It was out of Jim’s experience of writing The Balance Beam, and from his own inner work as a runner and a meditator, that this present book grew. I hope that you and countless other readers will find in Mind Like Water some ways to calm your mind and uplift your consciousness, and to transform the way you operate every day in this chaotic world.36
In April 2005, it became known that Ken Blanchard was endorsing and recommending New Age books that included Ballard’s book Mind Like Water.37 This news was shocking because as the co-founder of the Lead Like Jesus organization, Blanchard was already “working together” with Saddleback pastor Rick Warren in implementing what the pastor was calling God’s “Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan.”38 Blanchard was to help Rick Warren train countless numbers of people around the world to be “servant leaders” who would “lead like Jesus.” With the news of Ken Blanchard’s New Age affections there were now additional concerns regarding Blanchard, Rick Warren and the whole Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan. The obvious question suddenly became “What Jesus are we talking about here—the Bible’s Jesus or the New Age Jesus?”
In his book The Servant Leader, Blanchard and his co-author Phil Hodges placed great emphasis on the need for “solitude” and “silence” in order to “quietly receive what God reveals to you.” Invoking the cross and Psalm 46:10, they advised their readers to “Be still” and to move into the same meditative state of mind I practiced in the New Age.
If you are seated in a comfortable position, place your hands on your knees in a down position. If walking, visualize yourself in this position. In harmony with the position of your hands, mentally put down everything you are concerned about or expending energy in trying to manage or control at the foot of the cross. Be specific—name each burden as you put it down.
When you have exhausted your list, take a couple of deep breaths and turn your hands, physically and mentally, into an up position and quietly receive what God reveals to you.
Have no expectations or agenda for this time with God. Let it be His to fill.39
In New Age leader Deepak Chopra’s book, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success: A Practical Guide to the Fulfillment of Your Dreams—a book that also bears Blanchard’s endorsement—Chopra emphatically declares that in order to know God one must meditate. He underlines his New Age call to meditation by citing Psalm 46:10 and putting predictable New Age meaning on the single word “Be.” He writes:
Practicing silence means making a commitment to take a certain amount of time to simply Be.40
In the Bible is the expression, “Be still, and know that I am God.” This can only be accomplished through meditation.41
Blanchard’s 2005 book Lead Like Jesus—endorsed by numerous Christian leaders including Rick Warren—also cites Psalm 46:10 and urges readers to focus on the single word “Be.” Like Chopra, Blanchard puts an obvious New Age emphasis on this word “Be.” Blanchard writes:
Before we send people off for their period of solitude, we have them recite with us Psalm 46:10 in this way:
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know.
This idea of simply “being” was at the heart of my New Age experience. But I came to realize that just “being” can produce an overly relaxed, falsely confident, passive state of mind where trusting souls do not think to “test the spirits.” As a result many of us learned the hard way that much of what we thought we heard and experienced and felt was not from God at all.
When Blanchard’s endorsements of New Age books were brought to light in 2005 by Lighthouse Trails Research.com and Christian Research Service.com, Blanchard quickly acknowledged that his endorsements had been “problematic.” But rather than publicly renouncing and exposing the deceptive New Age books and practices that he had endorsed, Blanchard has remained strangely silent about his New Age leanings and entanglements. He has said and done almost nothing to indicate that he has any real understanding that the “Jesus” of the New Age is a false Christ. And he has said and done almost nothing to warn the church to “test the spirits”: that some of the New Age authors he has endorsed—like Jim Ballard and Deepak Chopra—were also using “solitude” and “silence” and the “Be still” verse from Psalm 46:10 to incubate a conversation with the “God” of the New Age/New Gospel/New Spirituality.
A Time of Departing
Ray Yungen’s excellent and revealing book, A Time of Departing: How Ancient Mystical Practices are Uniting Christians with the World Religions, is a strong warning to the church to beware of the dangerous deception that is going on in the name of “solitude” and “silence” and “contemplative prayer.” Yungen warns that undiscerning Christian leaders like Ken Blanchard are paving the way for a New Age/New Spirituality by indiscriminately introducing meditative and contemplative practices into the church:
The question may arise—how can credible evangelical organizations justify meditative practices that clearly resemble those of Eastern meditation? As pointed out earlier in this book, Christian terminology surrounds these practices. It only takes a few credible Christian leaders with national profiles, to embrace a teaching that sounds Christian to affect large numbers in the church….
In the spiritual climate of today a unifying mystical prayer practice fits the paradigm necessary to unite the various world faiths. In Western civilization, this model is the contemplative prayer movement. I believe this movement is on the slippery slope that will lead to the great apostasy. For this to happen, as the Bible says, there will be “seducing spirits” who design a spirituality very closely related to the truth. Every Christian must therefore discern whether or not the contemplative prayer movement is a deeper way of walking with God or a deception that is attempting to undermine the very gospel itself.43
1. Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship with God: an uncommon dialogue, p. 291.
2. Bob DeWaay, Redefining Christianity: Understanding the Purpose Driven Movement (Springfield, Missouri: 21st Century Press, 2006).
3. Warren Smith, The Light That Was Dark: From the New Age to Amazing Grace, p. 36.
4. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume (Workbook), p. 222.
5. Rabindranath R. Maharaj with Dave Hunt, Death of a Guru: A Hindu Comes to Christ (New York: A.J. Holman Company, Division of J.B. Lippincott Company, 1977), pp. 219-220.
6. Barbara Marx Hubbard, The Revelation: A Message of Hope for the New Millennium, pp. 40-41.
7. Ibid., p. 55.
8. Ibid. p. 64.
9. Ibid., p. 63.
10. Ibid., p. 64.
12. Ibid., pp. 288-291.
13. A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume (Text), p. 52.
14. Ibid., (Workbook), p. 119.
15. The Findhorn Community, The Findhorn Garden: Pioneering a New Vision of Man and Nature in Cooperation (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1975), p.36.
17. Ibid., p. 36-37.
18. Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary On The Whole Bible (Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1991), p. 810; Pastor Larry DeBruyn, “Be Still: Some thoughts on Psalm 46:10 as it relates to contemplative prayer,” (http://www.frbaptist.org/bin/view/Ptp/PtpTopic20060404145458).
19. Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship with God: an uncommon dialogue, p. 291.
20. Neale Donald Walsch, Conversations with God: book 1, p. 5..
21. Ibid., p. 4.
22. Smith, The Light That Was Dark, p. 147.
23. Neale Donald Walsch, What God Wants: A Compelling Answer to Humanity’s Biggest Question (New York: Atria Books, Simon & Schuster, 2005), p. 184.
25. Michaelsen, The Beautiful Side of Evil, p. 138-139.
26. Ibid., p. 154.
27. Ibid., p. 182.
28. Baron, Deceived by the New Age, p. 11.
29. Smith, The Light That Was Dark, Chapter Two: Enter Rajneesh, pp. 23-29.
30. Jim Ballard, Mind Like Water: Keeping Your Balance in a Chaotic World (Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002), pp. 13-14.
31. “SRF Devotee: Connecting SRF Devotees Worldwide, Our featured devotee artist: Jim Ballard.” A webpage for Self-Realization Fellowship founded by Paramahansa Yogananda, http://www.srfdevotee.com/featured/spotlite.html .
32. Ballard, Mind Like Water, pp. 13-14.
33. Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, Standard 2004.
34. Ballard, Mind Like Water, p. 78.
35. Ibid., p. 76.
36. Ibid., pp. vii-viii.
37. http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com, press release April 20, 2005.
38. Rick Warren told Blanchard: “So, we’ve come up with a little plan called the peace plan. You and I are working together on this.” Lead Like Jesus Celebration, November 20, 2003, Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Alabama. Transcript online: http://www.gprxnow.com/bonuses/BlanchardLeadLikeJesus.pdf. DVD available through Lead Like Jesus online store.
39. Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges, THE SERVANT LEADER: TRANSFORMING YOUR HEART, HEAD, HANDS & HABITS, p. 89.
40. Deepak Chopra, THE SEVEN SPIRITUAL LAWS OF SUCCESS: A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO THE FULFILLMENT of YOUR DREAMS, p. 14.
41. Ibid., pp. 16-17.
42. Ken Blanchard, Lead Like Jesus: LESSONS from the Greatest Role Model of ALL TIME, pp. 160-161.
43. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing: How Ancient Mystical Practices are Uniting Christians with the World?s Religions (Silverton, Oregon: Lighthouse Trails Publishing Co., 2002, 2006), p. 183.
Original PDF book format Reinventing Jesus Christ: The New Gospel.
Purchase Reinventing Jesus Christ under the new title, FALSE CHRIST COMING: DOES ANYBODY CARE?: What New Age Leaders Really Have in Store for America, the Church, and the World.
- Helen Schucman, Marianne Williamson, and A Course in Miracles
- Barbara Marx Hubbard and The Revelation
- Neale Donald Walsch and Conversations with God
- Benjamin Creme, Wayne Peterson, and Maitreya
- The Light That Was Dark
- The Global Renaissance Alliance/Peace Alliance
- The New Age Campaign for Peace
- The Armageddon Alternative
- The New Age Doctrine of Separation
- The Silent Church
- The Final Word
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