Jesus: The illumined Illuminator [Excerpts]
Contemporary Christianity is following “every wind of doctrine” in spite of the fact that Scripture warns about taking this route. Self-professed Christ followers no longer “endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” (2 Tim:4:3). Regrettably, many believers have embraced neo-Gnosticism.
Christian Gnosticism is the belief that one must have a "gnosis" (from Greek "Gnosko," to know) or inner knowledge which is mystical knowledge obtained only after one has been properly initiated. Only a few can possess this mystical knowledge, limiting the number of those "in the know". … Gnosticism today seems to provide a lot of the form and color for the New Age portrait of Jesus where Jesus is seen as the illumined Illuminator: one who serves as a cosmic catalyst for others' awakening. As such it is as false and heretical as the Gnosticism of the first century and needs to be roundly condemned for the heresy that it is.
One such discipline evangelicals now practice is contemplative or centering prayer, aka Spiritual Formation, brought to us by the Desert Fathers. Contemplative/centering prayer entails going to a quiet place to clear one’s mind of all outside interference so that God’s voice can be heard. To connect with God on a deeper level the practitioner must repeat a word (mantra) over and over until he/she achieves an altered state of consciousness. In this trance state the practitioner allegedly feels God’s presence and is able to seek His guidance.
Evangelicals also participate in Lectio Divina (divine reading). This involves Scripture reading, meditation and prayer with its purpose being to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of the scriptures.
Protestants have been initiated into monastic mysticism through reading the books of Catholics such as William Meninger, Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, Basil Pennington, Brennan Manning and Brother Lawrence. Likewise evangelical mystics Richard Foster and Dallas Willard are contributing to the spread of contemplative/centering prayer.
The Apostle Paul warned the Body of Christ about the Gnostics. He told them “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Cor:6:14).
Clearly, God does not wish His people to involve themselves in any sort of unrighteousness. Yet many Christians do the very things God condemns. Instead of going to Him for their marching orders, they’re taking orders from those who would do them great harm. In their endeavor to seek God, they end up going against Him.