Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Contemplative Prayer Taught To My Kids

It seems that I can't keep up with writing blogs for all the various ways that the Christian Church is being undermined with Hindu mysticism. I was minding my own business and another blog topic was thrust in my path yesterday afternoon...

We have been attending a different church recently, but some of our kids were sick last week end so I let one of our teenagers go to the Sunday morning youth meeting at the church where we are still members. This is a good church that on paper at least is theologically sound and they have a strong heart for evangelism. So by most measures this is a very sound, evangelical church.

My son brought back the sermon notes on the left (from the youth class) which talked about the "30 day silence" challenge. Here is their definition of how to improve prayer: "Find a quite place. Pray that God will reveal Himself. Sit quietly. Clear your mind, don't try to think. There is no time limit. Cross your legs in the lotus position". Well, I added the part about crossing your legs, but you get my point. Put it in a Christian context and it is "prayer". Put it in a Hindu context and it is Hindu meditation. The Christian movement that this comes from is apparently called "Contemplative Prayer" or "Centering Prayer".

The core difference here is that in Christianity prayer is thinking or talking information, but in Hinduism it is usually clearing the mind. Also, meditation in the Christian context is thinking through information, whereas in the Hindu context meditation usually is again clearing the mind. Though Hinduism is very broad, sometimes including most every possible practice, Hinduism in its most common form and Christianity still have opposite concepts of how one reaches enlightenment. Hinduism, in its most common form, seeks for us to realize, usually through clearing our minds, that we are one with Brahman and to detach from pain and pleasure in order to be released from samsara. In contrast, Christianity seeks for us to realize, through reason and study, who God is and what he wants from us. And Christianity seeks for us, through self sacrifice, to reduce real hurting for ourselves and others and to enjoy true pleasure as God designed it. So, Christianity and Hinduism are very much opposites. They can only be seemingly merged when Christian terms are instead infused with Hindu meanings. See Christian Answers for the New Age for a more in depth analysis than I can do here.

To see what a pro-contemplative prayer web site says, see Contemplative Outreach. Note that they believe in the "Indwelling Trinity" rather than just the Holy Spirit and they do not seem to mention any concept of repentance. In short, they are promoting Hindu concepts in Christian terms. For a site that shows how contemplative prayer is making inroads into the Christian church, see the Lighthouse Trails Research Project.

If I wanted my kids to learn contemplative prayer, I would take them to the meditation class which meets every Sunday at 11 AM at the local Theosophical society. They could perhaps even go to the Gong Bath and Singing Bowl classes (at the local Catholic Franciscan order) to help them meditate better. Or instead, maybe I will wait for the Evangelical Christian version: the Organ Bath (give it time, someone will come up with a "Christianized" alternative). I'm not casting dispersions on the Theosophical Society. They are acting in keeping with their beliefs (which I do not share). But Christians who, without thinking through the issues, teach children to "clear their mind" during "prayer" are not in keeping with the Christian teachings they say that they are committed to. And Hindus and Buddhists who try to infuse Christian terms with Hindu meanings (in a Christian context) either do not know the difference or they are being disingenuous.

Dr. Ron Carlson - Eastern Philosophy Expert - Video

Rebuttal of Psalm 62 verses Dr. Lutzer used to support contemplative prayer

John MacArthur vs Doug Pagett video debate on Christian Yoga


Hlorridi said...

This makes me sad. Busying your mind with lists of words instead of resting in the presence of God is not productive. Relaxing and enjoying the heart's movement toward God has taken many forms from the early desert fathers through the mystics of the middle ages and into contemporary times with folks like Thomas Merton. Prayer that is only "information" toward God is a sadly impovrished prayer life and unless you want to claim that all those in the long distinguished history of contemplative and meditative prayer are not "true Christians" you should broaden your undersatnding of prayer. And if you don't accept any of these in the tradition, I can only hope that you beware the leaven of the Pharisees.

Nick Benedict said...

There is a strong history of christian meditation dating back to the desert fathers even references to meditation in the old testament. Just because in the west we lost touch with our meditation roots, does not mean we should consider this a negative action.

Contempt prior to investigation.