What follows are a series of emails between a friend of mine and myself. I think it is fair to say that he is questioning the classic formulation of Christianity and I am defending it. I have received his permission to post these email conversation but will protect his privacy, even though he has given me permission to use his first name. The first letter below was written by me in response to his request to visit the website of a church he had been attending.
14 April 2009
What I am going to write is probably not what you are going to want to hear. However, as a follower of Jesus Christ I am greatly distressed when I see wolves sneaking in and culling sheep with slick jargon and polished presentations, even using “christian” lingo but who deny the sole sufficiency of Christ and are intent on leading christ followers away into apostasy.
After reading all the links on the site www.centersoflight.org. I think this is a version of new age Hinduism mixed with universalism. These quotes from the website concern me significantly, for the word of God is placed as an equal to every other spiritual classic
All the teachings from all the world religions throughout time comprise the Ancient Wisdom Teachings. Those Master Teachers and Sages that have been sent by God to human beings over thousands of years have demonstrated and taught those who were open. These became the disciples of the Ancient Wise Ones and their lessons and teachings have been passed down through history. If you study these teachings from each of the world religions, you will note a common theme: love of God and love of neighbor.
Some Eastern religions do not have a direct conception of God, but do consider compassion and respect for all of life as very similar to the Western version of love of God. These teachings are universal and everyone who comes into a direct experience of the ONE understands anyone else who has this experience. In this unity of experience, we are all sisters and brothers in God.
While each religion shares something, since they are all the experiences of humans reaching out for God, Christianity is unique among them all for God in Christ reaches down to the world. This fundamental difference, sets Christ and all other teachers apart. They are not equals and while we can learn something about the spiritual quest from all people/faiths, it means nothing unless Christ’s preeminence is maintained. I fear that the COL is not interested in such an endeavor. Here are some examples: The masculine/feminine emphasis appears to draw heavily from magik. While i believe God uses feminine language in the Scriptures to describe godself, the extreme the COL goes to make all feel ok, seems to border on what I have seen in Bahai. Or take this blatant violation of scripture: We know Jesus and Mary as co-mediators between God and human beings. The Bible teaches that there is only one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.
Then there are the soteriological (salvation deficiencies) from the article on Suffering:
Jesus taught that suffering was caused by separating from the love of God, disconnecting through negative thoughts, actions, and emotions that take us away from God. Essentially, Jesus taught that falling away from our real nature, our true being, causes us to suffer. In order to connect again with our real nature, we have to love God first and love all of our brothers and sisters without exception. Jesus further elaborated the way to get back into oneness with God through the simple teachings of the Beatitudes. This isn’t what scripture teaches, sin is what causes suffering and the way back into God’s presence is through Christ and Christ alone via the sacrificial death of Jesus, not doing something that makes all religions equal.
Then the other anomalies, like Father Peter who writes on astrology and how it jives with Christ. It is condemned in scripture as a violation of trusting God alone. Humans are called to look to God not the stars for direction and security. [Friend], I really hope you take these critiques seriously, their is a bit of truth in everything the COL states but there are also lies mixed in with it all and all lies come from Satan, the father of lies. Don’t be sidetracked, seek Christ and Christ alone. i know that the reformed tradition you were raised and which i pastor has a great hole in what you or I would call Spiritual Formation. This has not always been the case, but in the last hundred years or so it has been exaggerated greatly. I would urge you to seek what you are missing through men and women sincerely devoted to Christ and Christ alone. I think Dallas Willard’s, The Divine Conspiracy would be a great place for you to start, it is a look at the Sermon on the Mount and its call to the Believer. Or Richard Foster’s Celebration of the Disciplines is a great work on Spiritual formation.
I would love to dialog with you about this more. Keep the lines open.