Tom: The main topic for this week’s program is the rise of occultism in Christianity, and in particular, its entry through psychology and inner healing. Last week we addressed the occult influences in the church of Christian psychotherapy. Today we plan to discuss similar effects in the church brought in through Inner Healing ministries. Now, Inner Healing is a form of metaphysical healing which attempts to bring about peace and harmony between the soul or mind and spirit. Its methodology involves a mixture of biblical, psychological, and occult concepts and techniques.
First of all, Dave, is there a difference between Inner Healing and Christian psychotherapy, or is it all cut from the same tree?
Dave: Well, it is cut from the same tree, I guess you could say, but there are some differences. Among them, psychotherapy can only be practiced by licensed psychotherapists. You have to have a Ph.D. and be licensed by the state. Inner Healing is practiced by anybody who picks it up and starts to do it. Not all psychotherapy is like Inner Healing. In other words, Inner Healing basically involves not just going back in the past, which psychotherapy does, but visualizing Jesus coming alongside of some traumatic experience and working it out for you. There are many Christian psychologists who don’t advocate visualizing Jesus, but many of them do. So yes, there are similarities, and there are some differences.
Tom: Dave, last week we talked about Norman Vincent Peale being the father of Christian psychotherapy – psychology, really…
Tom: …and his background, as we mentioned, was Mind Sciences. That’s really his theology. Now, it’s really interesting that the…
Dave: Maybe we need to explain Mind Sciences.
Dave: These are the cults of Christian Science, Religious Science, Mind Science (as you mentioned), and the whole idea is that sin, sickness, death, and so forth – this was Mary Baker Eddy’s idea, which, of course, she got from a hypnotist, Quimby…
Tom: Right, Dr. Phineas Quimby.
Dave: Right. The idea is that these things don’t exist, they only exist in our minds. Like the “power of positive thinking,” or Schuller’s “possibility thinking,” you can change your circumstances – not just the way you feel about them, but your whole universe around you – by changing the way you think. So Mary Baker Eddy, in fact, denied the reality of sickness or death. In fact, Jesus didn’t die on the cross, because there’s no such thing as death. So these are the Mind Sciences. Norman Vincent Peale, in fact, is claimed by them. I mean, he spoke (I don’t know how many times, but a number of times) at Unity Headquarters in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. Unity is one of those what they call New Thought Alliance. The New Thought Alliance, which involves these various churches, are really cults. There’s nothing biblical about them at all. They claim both Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller. Robert Schuller was Norman Vince Peale’s main disciple; Schuller credits Peale as being his mentor, and the New Thought Alliance claims them as being part of – you know, they teach the same thing. Robert Schuller has also taught at Unity Headquarters in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He didn’t go there to correct them, he went there to commend them and to share his church growth principles…
Dave: …with his horrible cult. He dedicated a Unity Temple in Warren, Michigan. He has spoken a number of times and blessed the Unity people. In fact, he had one of the major Unity ministers – well, she now is not directly affiliated with Unity. She was called in his brochure (Schuller’s brochure for his Church Growth Institute a couple of years ago) the Reverend Doctor Johnnie Colemon. She’s the pastor of Christ Universal Temple in Chicago. Again: so their affiliation with Unity, with Science of Mind, is very clear. In fact, I think you’re about to read a quote out of Seduction of Christianity.
Tom: Right. A lot of people were shocked when we stated that Norman Vincent Peale, his background, and most of his teachings were right out of Religious Science and Mind Science. And in Seduction of Christianity, we quote Charles Braden, who – here’s a historian of New Thought, of Religious Science, and so on – and he writes, “Peale’s father once told his son, ‘You have evolved a new Christian emphasis out of a composite of Science of Mind, metaphysics, Christian Science, medical and psychological practice, Baptist evangelism, Methodist witnessing, and solid Dutch Reformed Calvinism.’” Now, that’s really the heart of Religious Science and Unity and so on. It’s an amalgam, it’s a collection of different ideas, but it all has a – sort of a Gnostic or metaphysical foundation.
Dave: You would not get that so obviously. If you know the occult, you would very clearly get it in his most popular book The Power of Positive Thinking. But we could take you to other books by Norman Vincent Peale – for example, Positive Imaging – and in that, Norman Vincent Peale teaches directly occult techniques that if a pastor wants to increase the number of people in his congregation, he needs to visualize these people coming in.
Tom: Last week we mentioned how he utilized occult techniques such as visualization – particularly we gave an example of how he got into fundraising through this methodology. Dave…
Dave: And you could even get somebody to write out a check for you by visualizing them doing it.
Dave: Yeah, so this is direct occultism.
Tom: Exactly. Now, what’s interesting in what I’m leading up to here is that as Norman Vincent Peale, with his Mind Science background – is the founder of, really – the one who introduced the idea of Christian psychology: Agnes Sanford. She’s really the mother of Inner Healing. She really brought that into the church. Now, her background – she started out the daughter of a Presbyterian missionary in China, but her theology developed into a religious science.
Dave: Tom, the teachings – we don’t make this up. These are in her books. This is in writing – the teachings of Agnes Sanford are so incredibly unbiblical and directly occult that I don’t see how anyone can possibly deny it. And yet she is the mother, you could say – I call her the “Mary…”
Tom: Yes, I did say that!
Dave: I call her the “Mary Baker Eddy of the charismatic movement.” She is indeed the mother of the Inner Healing movement, and she trained all of these people. Well, she didn’t train all of them. The ones she trained trained the rest, such as Ruth Carter Stapleton, Rosalind Rinker, John and Paula Sandford, who are still all over the country involved in Inner Healing, William Vaswig, Rita Bennett, and you’ve probably got other names you could add to it.
Tom: Well, Richard Foster, we’ve mentioned his involvement…
Dave: She didn’t directly train him, but he relied very much upon her.
Tom: And recommended her in an early edition of his book Celebration of Discipline.
Dave: Right, said he’s learned a great deal from her, received a lot of insights from her, considered her to be very sound…
Tom: Mm-hmm. David Seamands, certainly, Morton Kelsey – I’m looking down a list here – Leanne Payne, of course, Francis MacNutt…these are people who are still very much involved in Inner Healing. And our concern here is that, as sincere as they may be in trying to help people, the methodology, the techniques here come right out of the occult.
Dave: Tom, let’s just get down to that: John and Paula Sandford say that Agnes Sanford was “for all of us the forerunner in the field of Inner Healing.” Now, when we exposed some of these things about Agnes Sanford, John Sandford said that he had cast a demon out of her.
Tom: Yeah. No relation. She has a son named John or Jack, but this is John and Paula Sandford…
Dave: With a “d” in the name. Her name does not have a “d” in it.
Tom: Right, S-a-n-f-o-r-d.
Dave: And he claimed that he had cast a demon out of her and led her to Christ. But nevertheless, he says she was their mentor, and this was before he supposedly cast the demon out of her and led her to Christ. But…
Tom: And she was heavily involved in influencing people prior to that.
Dave: But let me just give you a few quotes from Agnes Sanford: “God’s love was blacked out from man by the negative thought vibration of this sinful world. So our Lord lowered his thought vibrations to the thought vibrations of humanity and cleansed the thought vibrations that surround this globe.” Where do you find that in the Bible? This is pure Science of Mind, positive thinking, negative thinking. “Therefore, since he became a very part of the collective unconscious of the race, when he died upon the cross, a part of humanity died with him and an invisible, personalized energy of our spirits has already ascended with him into the heavens.” Now, this energy, you know… “His blood, that mysterious life essence, remains upon this earth in plasma form blown by the winds to every land, exploding in a chain reaction of spiritual power. We direct this great flow of life into a closed mind by doing penance for the sins of the world or for a particular person, and by taking that one [that is, visualizing] them to the cross of Christ, and there receiving for him forgiveness, healing, and life.” You know, I thought salvation comes through proclaiming the gospel and those who believe it are saved? But you don’t have to proclaim the gospel, you simply have to visualize.
She called God – well, she said we can tap into this flow of energy, this “high voltage of God’s creativity.” She claimed we’re part of God. She called God “primal energy,” and Jesus “the most profound of psychiatrists.” And she said you could forgive other people’s sins through visualization. Well, we give a lot of quotes in this book. We could go on and on, but I think that’s enough for anyone to recognize this woman is not only unbiblical, she is teaching some very destructive – dangerous and destructive concepts of the occult. And yet this is the founder – really, the forerunner – in the Inner Healing movement, and these people still look up to her and honor her, and her books are still sold in Christian bookstores. Now, what does that say about the discernment not only of these people, but of those who still follow them to this day?
Dave: That’s one reason for this radio program. Tom, we’re just pleading with people. We’re not trying to run anybody down, we’re not making false accusations, we’re simply saying, “What do they teach?” We give you the quotes, we give you the documentation, and then we say, “Let’s get back to the Bible.”
Tom: Right. But, Dave, it isn’t just a matter of them having fond memories or ideas about Agnes Sanford. They utilize the techniques that she’s talking about that come out of the occult. We talked about psychology and Carl Jung last week. Agnes Sanford was a Jungian to the max!
Dave: That’s right.
Tom: That’s where she got most of her ideas. For example, the “collective unconscious”: she believed, as you mentioned in the quote earlier, that Jesus and everything is a part – all of our memories are a part of a collective unconscious that you learn how to tap into.
Dave: Tom, let me just go back a minute, because Richard Foster would be a name that would be well-known. He has the Renovaré Ministry now, which he’s taking this across the country and around the world. His books, beginning with Celebration of Discipline and so forth, have sold, I would say, hundreds of thousands of copies. He’s been very popular. Now, after what I quoted of the beliefs of Agnes Sanford, listen to what Richard Foster says: “I have been greatly helped in my understanding of the value of the imagination and praying for others by Agnes Sanford. This advice of prayer through the imagination, picturing the healing and much more, was given to me by Agnes Sanford.” Well, I guarantee you, Tom, that wasn’t given to her by God! It is not in the Bible! This is an occult technique.
Foster endorsed Sanford, her books. He said, “I have discovered her to be an extremely wise and skillful counselor.” And yet she openly taught Eastern Mysticism, occultism. She taught that humans existed in heaven prior to coming to earth, trailing “a cloud of glory with an unconscious memory of that pre-earth existence,” and so forth. Now, how can we honor a woman like this? But when we consider that she is really behind the Inner Healing movement, that gives you some insights into what this movement is about and the dangers that are involved.
And yet, Tom, these people persist in this in spite of the fact that it is not biblical, it is contrary to the Word of God, and it uses the imagination to visualize Jesus, to visualize people, as though you can create reality in your mind. Tom, if I had any hair left, I would pull it out, I guess! It becomes a little bit frustrating after a while.
Tom: Dave, I remember going back to the beginnings of the Vineyard movement. Ken Gullickson actually founded the Vineyard movement before John Wimber was involved. But Ken had tapes then – he very much got into Inner Healing. His wife got involved, and then he got involved out of her encouragement. From that, when John Wimber joined the Vineyard movement, this was a major part – Inner Healing was a major part of what the Vineyard movement was all about, and it was all based on, again, Agnes Sanford and her teachings.
Dave: Yeah, they offered her tapes, her books…
Dave: It’s a tragedy, Tom. What we’re seeing is you follow the leader, you get some new idea – the Bible is not sufficient. “What we need is some new technique for dealing with people’s problems!” This is how psychology got into the church; this is how Inner Healing got into the church. But once you turn away from Scripture, the sufficiency of Scripture – is this God’s Word? Is this the Manufacturer’s Handbook? Has He, as Peter says in 2 Peter 1, “given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness”? Is the Bible, as Paul says in 2 Timothy 3, it will make you – the man of God will be perfect, mature, complete, “thoroughly furnished unto every good work.”
Now, as soon as we say, “No, that’s not true. We need some help from other techniques,” then you’ve lost your moorings. You’ve lost your compass. You have no basis left for determining whether this thing that you’re involved in is true or false. It seems to work; you take a pragmatic approach. In fact, this was the approach that John Wimber took way at the very beginning. He had a Calvary Chapel, a large Calvary Chapel, and you know the story: Chuck Smith was concerned about some of the things that were happening, and finally he said to John, “Are you going to go by the Bible or by experience?”
And John Wimber said, “We’re going to go by experience. If it works, that’s what we’re going to do.”
And that was when Chuck Smith, to his credit, said, “Then please don’t use the name Calvary Chapel anymore.” And this is where the Vineyard came from. Now…
Tom: That was the thrust that they took.
Dave: Yeah, you had some Vineyards already. I used to speak at them. These were good people; I love them, but I began to warn them about John Wimber and some of his ideas. And of course when he then called himself The Vineyard, he was well-known, and most people think he was the founder of the Vineyard movement. But the point we’re trying to make is when you get away from the Bible and you go by experience…you can get all kinds of experiences on drugs. I have talked to people around – all over this world, Tom: Moral Re-Armament people at their headquarters in Caux, Switzerland – they could give you experiences, fantastic experiences. I’ve talked to Hindus and Buddhists, occultists – incredible experiences! And some of them, they think they’ve had experiences with God. Carl Jung – the “Holy Ghost” appeared to him in the form of a dove. He picked up a spirit guide, as we’ve mentioned in the past…
Tom: Right, “Philemon the demon.”
Dave: So this is experience, and where it will lead you…I’ve got to get back to the Word of God and have my confidence in this.
Tom: Dave, just – I want to add this: when John Wimber began healing, he was looking for signs and wonders. That was his thrust, and as the inner healing started, it involved physical healing. Now, that was the same way with Agnes Sanford, except she wasn’t having much luck with regard to organic problems that people had. So then she made her shift to the healing of the soul, basically back to the Mind Science roots which she had. But that’s the trend that we see: they start out signs and wonders, looking for physical manifestations, but then they have to fall back to the spiritual, and they push it to the realm. Again, the spiritual and the experiential, but no real basis for objectively…
Dave: Okay, Tom, why do we even talk about this, and why do we name people’s names? Well, because they may come to your church, or you may pick up their books. They may be recommended to you by someone, and the next thing you know, you’re caught up in this. So it’s amazing how many people can sit under someone’s ministry and not recognize the false teachings that are coming forth, not realizing where they are being led until finally there they are. So we’re simply trying to warn people. We’re trying to give some facts. We’re letting you know what these people teach, where the teaching comes from. It comes out of the occult, it involves occult practices, and we’re simply saying, “Compare it with the Word of God. Get back to the Bible, and let’s renew our confidence in God’s Word as being sufficient for our needs.”
Tom: Right. Dave, just to add to that: if these individuals that we’ve mentioned are teaching things that are biblical, fine! I mean, to their credit, if that’s the case. But people have to be discerning as to whether that’s the case or not.
Dave: There’s a mixture, Tom, because not everything they teach us wrong, and that is more deadly, because the good stuff then causes you to accept what is not of God.
Tom: Dave, earlier I mentioned Gnosticism, and that term we don’t hear much these days. But really what it is – this is a problem that the church dealt with early on. These are the early heresies – we could say they were Gnostic heresies, and it had to do with, first of all, a mixture of different beliefs: some out of the East, some dealt with mysticism, some dealt with secret knowledge. Gnostic means…
Dave: It goes back…
Tom: …it goes back to knowledge.
Dave: …it goes back to the Garden of Eden, the Tree of Knowledge. Right.
Tom: But in this – this is really the root of so many of the problems that we see that have come into the church. It’s really at the heart – we’re talking about Mind Science and Religious Science – it has to do with the spiritual being more profound or important than the physical side of life, to the point where the actual physical side is denied, and everything must be spiritualized. We’ve talked in other programs about positive confession, positive mental attitude, the word-faith teaching – these are all Gnostic heresies to one degree or another.
Dave: Amen. So let’s get back to the Bible and see what it says. Don’t believe us. We give you the facts, we give you the quotes, but mainly we want to teach the truth from the Word of God.