i’m sure i’ll incite some strong responses with this post (which i’m not a huge fan of — “can’t we all just get along?”). but i do enjoy dialogue — it helps us grow, makes us examine our own beliefs and conclusions.
there’s been some interesting discussion attached to my post a few days back about whether or not ys is embracing eastern religions. my friend donna made a point that i thought was really helpful in bringing out an issue i’d like to highlight. here’s most of donna’s comment (she’s a great writer, huh?):
Gosh, Marko, I *totally* hear what you’re saying, bro’; but, gosh, I dunno… I’ll tell ya: some of this stuff sorta gives me the heebie-jeebies..?
I remember when Tim and I were new Christians. We drove cross-country back to our hometowns to share The Faith with our loved ones. We were SO excited, you know. Some of the first folks we visited were my old teacher/nuns. These dear women practically raised me, so I figured they’d be relieved to know I was a Christian now, even if I wasn’t the rosary-toting kind.
Boy was I in for a shocker: they had discarded their veils and some of their other nunnish trappings– and were sporting neatly-set, 50’s style HAIR-DO’s for pete’s sake! Too cute! I was so happy for them in their newfound wash-n-set freedom.
Curiously, however, along with The Liberated Nun Look they were also now ALL into the labyrinth walking, centering prayer, “Jesus magick,” let’s-get-one-with-the-universe stuff– no kidding, some of the same stuff that *I* was into waaay back in the mid-80s– when I was still *searching*!!!
Most shockingly, they were no longer Jesus-alone. (Well, okay, I guess back when I hung with them they were more like “Jesus-n-Mary alone”. But at least they *got* the No-one-cometh-to-the-Father-but-by-Me part, you know?) No kidding, Marko: they, also, were suddenly saying things like, “All truth is God’s truth”– but then they DID take that to the not-so-good place, you know?
Now I know *you* are not saying all-roads-lead-to-Heaven, but I know these ladies didn’t believe that at the beginning of their “spiritual stuff” journey either. So, like, what took ‘em there? (Maybe the veils had been tightly holding their brains together all those years, so that when they removed them, their brains loosened up and got all mixed up..?)
One of the nuns eagerly sent us home with a book she had just gotten published. It had the imprimatur on it and everything! We read it in the van and nearly drove off a cliff. TOTAL new-age crapola– the very kind of fluffy “spiritual” stuff I used to read during HER CLASS by tucking it into the RC theology book I was *supposed* to be reading!!!
i think you’re unknowingly doing what others who are afraid of spiritual practices are and have done — throwing the baby out with the bathwater. it’s guilt by association.
let me explain.
because some people mix legalism (clearly renounced by jesus) in with bible-reading, does that mean we should throw out the bible? of course not. because some people use “prayer” to pray some to god (as we christians understand and know god), but other times pray to spirits, the dead, saints, and whatever or whoever else; does that mean we throw out prayer? of course not. because some people mix in manipulation and judgementalism and even heresy with preaching, does that mean we throw out preaching? of course not. i could go on, but i think you get my line of reasoning here.
yes, there are people who utilize prayer and scripture and labyrinths and meditation and just about everything associated with christianity for spirituality that we would consider “other” than true christianity. what’s new? that’s been the case since the beginning of time, pretty much. paul and other bible writers often had to address this kind of extra-orthodox stuff in their letters — but (this is key), they don’t tell the christ-followers, “i guess you have to give up that spiritual practice, now that people are using it for non-jesus-reasons.”
none of that mis-use should cause us to retreat from christ-centered, jesus-only (in response to your jesus-plus phrase) ways and means. most of the prayer practices i’ve used, which have greatly deepened my understanding of and relationship with jesus, are rooted in historic christianity. if someone misuses them, well, that’s a bummer; but it just doesn’t make sense to distance ourselves from things that can deepen our faith because “those people” have or are using them for other purposes.
let the slippery-slope accusations begin!