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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

THIS BLOG HAS MOVED TO www.timeintheword.org

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Monday, February 06, 2006

Defining Worldviews - Eastern Pantheistic Monism

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - Romans 1:22-23
Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Daily Scripture Reading - Isaiah 55

Puritan Catechism
Question #15 - Did all mankind fall in Adam's first transgression?
Answer - All mankind descending from him by ordinary generation, sinned in him, and fell with him in his first transgression (1 Cor. 15:22; Rom. 5:12).

Devotional Thoughts
To pick up where we left off last week, we have progressed through the mire now as far as what the mind of fallen man can come up with to try and explain reality, truth, and right and wrong. Starting with Deism, we saw what happens to a worldview when you take God out of the picture. Oh, He is there, just not involved or active or relevant other than to explain how we got here. Truth is reduced to scientific facts. But the questions that Deism could not answer gave way to Naturalism, where all that matters is matter. There is no God, no Creator, no first cause - just nature. This system though cannot deal with settling the differences between right and wrong. That lead the way for Nihilism, which states matter of factly, that our faith is best placed in nothing. Life as a machine in a closed system of meaningless incomprehensibility, cause and effect left to chance, with no discernable purpose. Hence, no right or wrong, no truth or lies, no rhyme or reason. But because men go mad when they have no reason, there has to be a way to gove meaning to this existence. And the worldview idenitifed as Existentialism surfaced, telling us that we could determine our own meaning and define our own reality. The hidden danger with Existentialism is exposed when we understand that there are some who hold to a form of Theistic Existentialism, a worldview that believes there is a God but that the focus of our thoughts need to be relational not rational, taking a blind leap of faith that is really an irrational jump into situational ethics. We still make the rules for ourselves and the Word of God is reduced to good stories to encourage us as we create our own reality.

As all false systems of belief, Exstentialism was doomed to fail. This worldview still held at its root that there was actually no meaning for life. This philosophy was still meaningless. But man is driven to find out why we are here - what is the meaning of life? And we can craft some pretty intersting systems of thought to try and answer that question. It seems to me that faith in the Biblical record is "easier" than faith in these made up systems that fail at every turn. But then we have to remember that the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God (1 Cor 3:19) and that without the intervention of the Spirit, the natural man cannot ever hope to comprehend divine truth (1 Cor 2:14).

So the search continued, as men thought long and hard about the meaning of life! And since fallen man simply cannot see life from God's perspective, they turn inward for the answers. And in the 1960s this led the Existentialist to look East.

Eastern Pantheistic Monism

In opening the door for this old heresy revived, Dr. Duncan tells us that there were 3 things that led to this view from the West to the East. Here is what he said:

First, they said that Western technology made possible modern warfare. And the Vietnam war they saw as the result of this Western reason and philosophy that had produced this kind of technology for warfare. And so they said, “Let’s abandon reason. Reason is responsible for all this. Western rationalism is the root cause of all the things that are wrong in this Western militaristic culture, as seen in the Vietnam conflict. And therefore, let’s abandon reason.”

Secondly, they said, “Western economics have led to gross inequity and economic oppression of masses of people in the Third World. And since Western economics are based on Western philosophy and reason, let’s reject Western philosophy and reason, because it is that from which this system of gross, unfair, Western economics has developed.”

Thirdly, they said, “Western religion has largely supported those who are in control of the culture, and control of the technology, and control of the economic system. So let’s get rid of Western religion, and let’s find something else.” And so they swing to Eastern thought.

If reason demands an answer to the meaning of life then we must abandon reason! There was a move from the rational to the irrational. Rationality offers too many problems, you see. And the form of Eatern thought that best explains this ideological shift is called Eastern Pantheistic Monism.

Pantheism is the belief that God is everywhere and in everything. Monism is the belief that this God who is everywhere and in everything is impersonal - He is not a He, but an it. And the soul of each and every human being is the soul of the cosmos. You are God. And ultimately all roads lead to this "one" reality.

While we have in the Bible a presentation of One God in Three Persons, a personality, a personal God who desires a relationship with us, in Eastern thought "God" is impersonal. He is not a person, is not personal on any level, and therefore does not desire a relationship. In fact, we have to give this some thought because to the Eastern mind the idea of God is completely impersonal - and that is hard for us to wrap our Western minds around. To the Eastern mind then, God is the single complete component of reality. All that is is God and God is all that is!

In this system of belief you are God. Your soul is the essence of this one reality and so you are part of the collective whole that is "God". When you realise that you are in essence Divine, this is to reach enlightenment!

We are all one, we are all united in this reality, in this singularity of the Divine. Nothing exists that is not part of this singular impersonal reality. Meditation and other forms of mental and physical exercise help us come to this point of awareness, this oneness.

And even then, all roads lead to this one reality. So eventually everyone will end up in the same place - aware of this one reality and their part in it. There are no questions, no answers, no rational reality, no right or wrong, no meaning - there is just the "one" and our quest to become aware of our place in the universe!

The point of meditation and other techniques used within this system are truly meant to lead us into nothingness. Or as we have all seen this philosophy on the big screen, "Free your mind. Let go. Use the Force, Luke." So meditation is meant to clear the mind of all thought, to bring us to the point that we are free of our conscious mind and its limitations.

Several writers make the distinction here in noting that meditation in the Bible is always focused on the content of the Bible. Eastern meditation though is focused on being content-less.

In this worldview there is no way to determine right and wrong. Even karma, while affecting how you come back at reincarnation, is a matter of sowing and reaping, but never of right and wrong. Everything is good, some things are just not as good as others. But to truly be enlightened you must realise that there is no right or wrong, good or evil, you must be free from these restraints and free your mind!

What about death? Well there is an answer for that too in this system. You see, since you are part of the impersonal singular reality that is all that is, then your personality, your individuality is actually just an illusion! It is not real or personal either. The goal is to see past the illusion to the deeper hidden reality.

When you are completely empty of thought, knowledge, morals, self, identity, personality, and when you are free from the illusions of this world, then you transcend all - there is no time, no history, no reality apart from being one with everything.

In fact, you know what the Eastern Pantheistic Molinist said when he ordered a sandwich for lunch? "Make me one with everything." (snicker, snort....sorry, couldn't resist).

The Bible

Maybe it is just me, but it seems the further these systems get from Biblical truth the more easily we can expose their flaws from Scripture. This system, needless to say, just has no basis in reality, truth, or fact at all. Of course they don't mind because everything in their world is an illusion anyway. I guess that is a polite way to say their life is meaningless.

So how does the Word of God relate to this worldview? Simply put the Bible and this worldview are truly polar opposites. The Bible teaches us about a personal God who created all that is (Gen 1:1; Col 1:16), stands outside of time and space and even stretches the universe between His hands (Isaiah 57:15; Isaiah 40:22). He became involved with His creation to the point that He sent His Son to become a man, live a perfect and sinless life, die a criminal's death on the cross, bearing our sin and its penalty upon Himself, giving us His righteousness, all so that He could have a relationship with us, a relationship that had been destroyed by sin (Philippians 2:5-11).

Knowing God is not a matter of becoming one with Him through thoughtless mind numbing exercises in meditation. Knowing Him (faith) is based on embracing the truth of His Word - it is the content of that Word, not some content-less mind clearing nonsense that imparts to us this faith. Meditation in the Bible is about memorizing and focusing on the Word of God and all that it reveals to us about the Author of that Word (Psalm 1:1-3).

All roads do not lead to the same place. We must keep in mind as well that there are only 2 roads. One narrow, the other broad (Matt 7:13-14). And Jesus tells us that the narrow way leads to life and the broad to destruction. We also know from Scripture that Jesus is the Only Way (John 14:6), the only name in all creation whereby we can be saved (Acts 4:12). There is no other way, and to take any other path is to be deceived into walking the broad road to hell.

Self denial is not losing our self awareness (Luke 9:23). And Jesus forbids vain repetitions when we pray or meditate on the Word (Matt 6:7). All of these things are just completely contrary to the Word of God.

And yet, this worldview is making inroads all over the Christian map. Oh yes, it's true. The church is embracing elements of this worldview everywhere we look!! Would you like just a few exmaples?

Churches that embrace or Christians that participate in the following activites are practicising forms of a FALSE RELIGION that deny the Personal Creator God of the Bible:

Pilates (modified Yoga)
Tai Chi
Meditation (with repetition centered on one word or phrase)
Astral Projection (out of body expereinces)
Channeling (speaking with the dead, "saints", angels, or demons)
Walking/Praying the Labyrinth
Chanting a Mantra
Meditative Trance States
Alternative Medicine (be discerning, many are based on Pantheistic beliefs)

And this is the short list!! Don't believe me? Here is one recent example.

At a Christian youth conference, M-Fuge, hosted by the Southern Baptist Convention, teenagers were taught New Age Pantheistic Meditation techniques! The teens were told to close their eyes, relax, open their hands up as if they were ready to "receive something" and then they were told specifically:

1. As you sit comfortably with your eyes closed, let yourself settle down. Let go of all the thoughts, tensions, and sensations you may feel and begin to rest in the love of God who dwells within.

2. Effortlessly, take up a word, the symbol of your intention to surrender to God's presence, and let the word be gently present. The word should be one syllable, if possible, and should communicate God's love to you. Repeat it over and over during your prayer time. Focus on the word and what it means in your relationship with God.

3. If thoughts subside and you find yourself restfully aware, simply let go of the word. Be in that stillness. When thoughts begin to stir again, gently return to the word. Use that one word as your only response to thoughts, questions, or anxieties that arise in your mind.

Source: Guess What the Kids Learned at M-Fuge?

This worldview is invading the church! Some of it is presented as if the undergirding philosophy can be stripped away and we can claim the useful elements of these relaxation or weight loss techniques without the cultic baggage. Some of it, as we just read, is Eastern philosophy and false religion with a few semantic changes only.

Ultimately though we have to come back to the truth! God's ways are not ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). The wisdom of the world is foolishness to God (1 Cor 3:19). To befriend the world is to make yourself an enemy of God (James 4:4). To be conformed to the world is sinful (Romans 12:2).

We are called to be different! Transformed! And yet we run so fast and so hard after the latest fad that offers self fulfillment and supposed satisfation. Jesus said that He was satisfied and nourished by doing the work and will of God (John 4:34). We are to hunger and thirst after being right with God, then we will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6).

Search your hearts and minds. Is there any element of this philosophical worldview present in your life? This worldview as the foundation for the denial of the Word, the gospel, and the truth. Have you dabbled in the occult? In false religion? In eastern thought? In New Age techniques? In things that are rooted in a denial of Biblical truth?

This is the world in which we live. And the churches of which we are a part are under attack. The attack is subtle and deceptive. We need to get back to the old, old story. As Spurgeon put it:

We cannot place too much reliance in the gospel; our weakness is that we are so diffident and so apt to look somewhere else for strength. We do not believe in the gospel as to its power over the sons of men as we should believe in it. Too often we preach it with a coward's voice. Have I not heard sermons commencing with abject apologies for the preacher's daring to open his mouth; apologies for his youth, for his assertions, for his venturing to intrude upon men's consciences, and I know not what else? Can God own ambassadors of this cowardly cringing breed, who mistake fear of men for humility! Will our Captain honor such carpet-knights, who apologise for bearing arms? Even thus, though we may well humble ourselves as men, yet as ambassadors of God we cannot crouch to the sons of men, to ask them what message would suite them best. It must not, shall not, be that we shall smoothe our tongues and tone our doctrines to the taste of the age. The gospel that we preach, although the worldly wise man despises it, in God's gospel for all that. "Ah," says he, "there is nothing in it: science has overthrown it." "And," says another, "this gospel is but so much platitude; we have heard it over and over again." Ah, sir, and though it be platitude to you, and you decree it to be contemptible, you shall hear it or nothing else from us; "for it is the power of God, and the wisdom of God." In its simplicity lies its majesty and its power. "We are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. "God forbid that we should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." We will proclaim it again with confidence; We will bring forth once more the selfsame truth as of old; and as the barley loaf smote the tent of Midian, so that it lay along, so shall the gospel overturn its adversaries. The broken pitcher, and the flaming torches, and the old war cry, "The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon" shall yet fill the foeman with dismay. Let us but be bold for Jesus, and we shall see what his arm can do. The gospel is the voice of the eternal God, and has in it the same power as that which brought the world out of nothing, and which shall raise the dead from their graves at the coming of the Son of Man. The gospel, the word of God, can no more return to him void than can the snow go back to heaven, or the rain-drops climb again the path by which they descended from the clouds. Have faith in God's word, faith in the presence of the Holy Ghost, faith in the reigning Savior, faith in the fulfillment of the everlasting purposes, and you will be full of confidence, and like an army with banners.

The glory of heaven will not be that we are all melded into one with an impersonal god. It will be that we will be free of sin, sorrow, and death and will live in a vibrant vital relationship with God forever. It is about the personal relationship we have with God through His Son, Jesus Christ!!(Romans 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18-20).

Links for Further Study
This week I will be providing links that you can use to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time!

The Watchman Expositor has several pages dedicated to New Age and Pantheistic thought. Here are a few to start with:

Accupuncture, Deepak Chopra, Hypnosis, New Age Movement, Transcendental Meditation, Therapeutic Touch, Yoga, and Tai Chi.

If you are interested in other related topics or have questions about cults or the occult, this is a good online resource.

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship


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