Tom: Our topic for today, as Gary mentioned, is - it’s a documentary series…well, actually, we’re going to talk about the latest of the series - dealing with false teachings and practices in the church today. And our guest to discuss this subject with us is Caryl Matrisciana, the producer, director, and writer of Wide Is the Gate. Caryl also produced Yoga Uncoiled, which is without a doubt, in my view, the best documentary on yoga from the perspective of biblical Christianity.
Caryl, welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Caryl: Thank you so much for allowing me to be your guest, Tom. It’s wonderful being here with you.
Tom: Caryl, before we get into your latest in the Wide Is the Gate series, what’s the story behind your producing apologetic documentaries - for example, videos that expose the errors that are claimed to represent Christianity, or are being promoted within Christianity? So how did that all come about?
Caryl: Well, Tom, if you remember, my testimony is that I was born and raised in India for 20 years. I saw Hinduism; I knew what Hinduism was. I totally understood this as an Eastern religion, and yet when I came to the West in the ‘60s, I got sucked into a polished up, repackaged sort of Western version, which in those days wasn’t even called the New Age yet. It wasn’t even known as the New Age, but it was just this sort of hippie, bohemian, druggie, mystical communication with powers and principalities which, of course, we thought to be good.
Tom: Yeah, it was called the “perennial wisdom,” as I remember, back then.
Caryl: Whatever it was, I got caught in that wisdom, Tom! And in 1986 - actually, I came to the Lord in the early ‘70s through the Jesus Movement, which was the best thing that happened in my life; it was very, very exciting - and in the ‘80s, I wrote a book, and - actually, Dave Hunt and myself and Hal Lindsey and others were part of the Harvest House publication team that wrote on exposing - producing these apologetic books and exposing wrong doctrine, etc., etc.
Caryl: Gods of the New Age was my first book, and out of that was a documentary, and I thought very naively that that would sort of help the church, and that the church’s eyes would be opened, and that would be it. And here I am in 2014, what - 30 years later, actually doing an extended Gods of the New Age, except in those days it took an hour and a half, and today it’s taken, I think, over…gosh…15-20 hours with the entire three [part] series, including Christian Palestinianism with our dearest friend Paul Wilkinson, which is also part of the bonus of Wide Is the Gate.
So, yeah, it just shows that this false doctrine has grown, and my reason for doing it is, basically, to help educate the church as into what Scripture teaches us - for us to keep on coming back to Scripture and biblical teachings rather than the traditions of the church and the superstitions of the church, and the unbiblical practices that the church have borrowed over the last 30 years now from the New Age movement - Eastern mysticism. Now, of course, it’s called contemplative prayer, and…
Caryl: …experiencing the presence, and all these things. And as you and I have talked on so much in the past about both of us having come out of Catholicism, this was Western Mysticism that we knew about, and when we came to the Lord, we got well out of these occult experiences. But now they’ve counterfeited themselves and they’re in the church, wrapped up in Christian terminology and “churchianity.” And that, really, is the reason that I continue to be involved in speaking and producing apologetic documentaries and books, and of course my web page and articles on whatever’s coming up.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Caryl, I want to remind you of something. Let’s see if you…well, I hope you remember this. I’m almost guessing or believing you will. This is where I first met you: it was actually at a cult conference up in the Berkeley area of California, and it was a Spiritual Counterfeits conference. Now, one of the statements made by the guy who put it together, Brooks Alexander, he looked at everybody in the audience - all of us were, you know, involved in some ways, particularly then…dealt with cults, or cultic ideas, and so on - but he looked at everybody, and he said, “Ladies, gentlemen, I just want you to know that you are in a blue chip industry,” the idea being that this is going to grow and grow and grow. And you know, there couldn’t have been more than 35 people there.
But, Caryl, as you said, what we’re seeing today has grown exponentially, which - the Word of God said this would take place. I go back to the privilege of helping Dave with The Seduction of Christianity, and I know a year after that, Dave and I would look at each other and say, “Oh, it can’t get any worse than this. Can’t get any worse.” But it is just absolutely…it’s a tidal wave; it’s a tsunami of false teachings that just spread everywhere.
The other aspect of that that I think about from time to time - and, Caryl, I’m sure this is the case with you - as you see this grow and grow and grow, there’s a tendency for it to get…the weight of it to kind of fall on us who are trying to do something about it, which is a bad deal. It’s not where we’re supposed to be.
We are in a rescue operation. Are we going to turn this around, Caryl? You think Wide Is the Gate or Seduction of Christianity or all the things that The Berean Call is involved in with regard to informing people…. We’re not going to turn it around, but we can rescue people, can’t we?
Caryl: We can’t turn the movement around, because the Lord very clearly says that in the last days, there would be a falling away.
Caryl: Of course, the target is the body of Christ. The target…Satan’s target has always been God, and we - 2,000 years ago, the church, the born-again church, the true church was given the privilege of being the body of Christ, so of course we’re going to be attacked just as cancer attacks the body. So the counterfeits are going to come into the church.
We do have a protection - and I remember teaching my kids who were raised as little Awana students and - gosh, I don’t know how many years ago – 20 years ago. And of course, 2 Timothy:2:15 told us to be diligent to present yourself as an approved workman - actually, accurately handling the Word of God, and not ashamed of the Word of truth. And I thank God that in 1973 when I came to the Lord, I just loved the Bible so much, and I just loved going to the Bible and comparing everything to it. And of course in John 8 we’ve been told to abide in the Word of God, and, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” But sadly, the church - many, many members in the church today aren’t abiding in the Word…
Caryl: …and therefore, they don’t know the truth, and the Word of truth, the Spirit of truth, is the Holy Spirit. And so they're not set free; they’ve got into terrible bondage with bad doctrines and teachings that are itching their ears, and my work hasn’t really changed. I mean, in those days when you and I first met, Tom, we were dealing with cults, which was much more obvious then - Hare Krishna, and the Children of God, and…
Tom: Moonies. Right.
Caryl: …Moonies, and all of that, which was so obvious. But today, this horrible, horrible bondage of Eastern Mysticism - practicing the experience of God, the contemplative movement - all wrapped up in mysticism, Eastern mysticism, with Christian language has actually come into the church. And my Volume III focuses in primarily on this hyper-charismatic movement and, you know, this counterfeit charismatic, and trying to explain to people that it’s the Holy Spirit that is being counterfeited here by unholy spirits pretending to be the Word of God, pretending to teach these doctrines, and it’s just so bad. But you know, even the word “charisma,” if we realize it, is found 17 times in the Greek in the New Testament, but “charisma” is actually translated “gift,” and it was a free gift from the Lord, and it’s the gift of eternal life!
Tom: Right. You know, Caryl, just to go back, because we’re going to be talking about a number of things. We want people who are listening to us to be Bereans. We’re going to give them information; your research is impeccable. Nevertheless, we want our listeners to be Bereans, to listen to what we have to say, but then “search the Scriptures to see if these things are so.”
I’m thinking about…because you mentioned Satan’s scheme, his game plan - certainly he is the adversary. But his major scheme is to undermine, distort, corrupt the Word of God. To Eve, his first words were in the Garden of Eden, Genesis:3:1, “Yea, hath God said…?” So there’s the program.
And, Caryl, that’s what you’re talking about: the cults were obvious in terms of their, you know, their false teachings, Mormon fiction, just on and on. Most people, you would hope, would see clearly the problems there.
But now, “Yea, hath God said…?” Now it’s a matter of the church buying into some things. Why? Well, again, Scripture is prophetic. More than 30 percent of the Word of God is prophetic, telling us what’s ahead, and I think about Paul writing to Timothy, saying - I think this is 2 Timothy:4:3, right around in there: “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.”
Now, Caryl, let’s talk about that for a minute: if the church isn’t into the Word of God - if they’re not diligently reading, studying, living out God’s Word - they’re up for grabs, aren’t they?
Caryl: Yep, that’s it, and in the very words when you said in Genesis where Satan says to Eve, “Hath God said,” he actually undermined prophecy at that time, because he said, “You won’t die. Surely you won’t die!”
Caryl: So prophecy was undermined, and of course death, which is the wages of sin - and we saw that growing in the ‘70s, ‘80s, and the whole cult renewal of reincarnation - and therefore… That’s what, actually, yoga within Hinduism is all about: us being able to procrastinate death, so to speak, and through various exercises - occult exercises - we become the inventors, or the co-creators, of a new life, a new awareness, a new experience which, of course, is a lie. So there he undermined death, but with that undermining came the undermining of eschatology, or the understanding of last times.
I remember when I was a New Ager, even though I was into drugs and experiences and communicating with supernatural beings that gave me wonderful, euphoric experiences, there were downtimes where I absolutely had no hope, Tom. I mean, I thought, “What is this all about? Is this…I mean, once I’ve got through all of this, what happens afterwards?” And it wasn’t until, by the grace of God in being born again and having this insatiable love of the Holy Spirit, that I realized the huge advantages of prophecy, of knowing that He was coming again, that He was going to take the church out of the Tribulation (which was promised as a judgment for seven years to the world), and that although things were getting worse and worse - which I saw as a New Ager - I had this wonderful hope of eternal life, and the assurance of eternal life when, in the Garden of Eden, of course, Satan completely downplays eschatology, and then gets Eve to be involved in her own occult practices and experiences of taking fruit, and with her five senses being able to taste, and through her senses get into this altered state, so to speak.
So nothing’s changed, you know. But with the undermining of the Word, of course, comes the undermining of prophecy and eschatology, and that is very, very rampant in the new church today, the New Apostolic Reformation, the Apostolic Movement. But even in - sort of like Saddleback Church, Rick Warren’s church, that wouldn’t in a sense be part of the New Apostolic Reformation, but he is very anti-prophecy, and a huge amount of the church - the Reformation Theology church, the Protestants - don’t believe in the continuation of gifts, or the Holy Spirit’s work, or prophecy, which they consider to be rubbish. And they’re very, very anti-Rapture, which is, of course, our total hope in appearing of the coming of the Lord. So…
Tom: Mm-hmm. Well, let’s…
Caryl: …there’s a lot of damage being done within the church, yeah.
Tom: Well, Caryl, that’s…again, you’re touching on some things, but these things are coming out so fast and making such inroads. I go back maybe 30 years ago, like you - you know, I got saved in the ‘70s, and both of us coming out of Roman Catholicism…. At least we’re observers of what evangelical Christianity was all about. And to see that change over the decades, really change…you know, it was young evangelicals who confronted me about my Roman Catholicism, and now we see the church in huge ways turning to Rome. You’ve got a liaison between Rick Warren, as you mentioned, and the pope. And you have people like Kenneth Copeland…the pope interacting with a heretic, a false teacher. These things are just unbelievable. The Emerging Church Movement, which has turned to all of the sacramentals and the elements that we knew as Catholics, but now it’s supposed to - for non-Catholics, for evangelicals, it’s supposed to increase their spirituality. This is stunning.
But here’s what I’d like you to do: Wide Is the Gate, to me, it’s a compendium of exposing trends, many of which we talked about. But could you briefly tell us about some of the issues and some of the people that you have involved in this series?
Caryl: Well, yes. Even Volume I was really targeting trying to understand what the Emerging Church was all about, and in doing that, we of course had to ask what Emerging Christianity was - how can this thing be changing? Where Scriptures says, “God is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” here we had a church that was saying, “No, there’s a new Christianity,” implying that what the Holy Spirit began 2,000 years ago wasn’t adequate.
So Volume I was really looking into the whole Emerging Movement, tracing the roots of Eastern Mysticism back to India, altered states of consciousness, psychology, the idea of God within us was a potential of divinity or within us was a potential of doing good, and how did that come out into the church through psychology, the self-help movement, through the idea that we can tap into our inner potential. And then through that, keep on changing the Scriptures - not relying on the Counsellor, the Word of God, the doctrines of God, the sound wisdom of God, but to rely more on our own experiences.
So Volume I was looking into the change of moving from the Word - from faith, so to speak - from faith in the Word of God to faith in my own faith…faith in me being able to supersede God and through my experiences, whether they were in yoga, Eastern mysticism, the practices of God, contemplative prayer, all of those various things. And that then led us to Volume II to show us that there were lots of differences within the denominations of Christianity. And we went through the sort of history of showing how the church came away from the apostles, the foundation of the apostles, where very clearly Paul said in the New Testament that the church was based on the apostles, and the apostles were based on the teachings from Christ, and Christ was the last of the prophets, so to speak. He fulfilled the law.
So since then, about 300-400 years after Pentecost, we get the Roman Catholic Church, the first state religion, which embraced paganism, embraced pagans to come in not through repentance, but through, basically, a lot of rituals that the Catholic Church raised above the Word of God, [e.g.] infant baptism, that the body of Christ actually was within the bread of holy communion, which is way beyond the teachings of the Bible. We’re told to just remember what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross. And when He opened His arms and said, “It is finished,” the work on the cross was finished, and all those that believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior basically became born again. But the Roman Catholic Church, through this incredible practice of daily Mass, sort of made the body of Christ continually be in the bread and the wine which we absorbed and, you know, that practice goes on all over the world. I mean, I was raised in India as a Roman Catholic, and we had this transubstantiation, as priests will call it - a sort of a magical ritual over the bread that actually becomes the body and blood of Jesus Christ, which isn’t biblical.
So Volume II was explaining Roman Catholicism, a lot of the unbiblical doctrines and traditions of Roman Catholicism, but also, then, of the Protestant movement, and how many such as Luther and Calvin, or those…this is John Calvin, who was born in France, and Martin Luther, who was born in Germany. Although they broke away from Catholicism in a sense (that was saying that the pope wasn’t correct in certain aspects), the Protestant movement didn’t really break away back to the fundamentals of the Bible, the apostolic church, so to speak - the apostles, what the apostles taught, the early teachings of Jesus Christ.
So a lot of these things are explained, and I’ve had hundreds of letters from people so grateful that church tradition was opened up to them and compared to Bible teachings within - whether it was, you know…no matter what denomination, because error comes into all denominations if we stray from the Word of God. So…
Tom: Mm-hmm. And, Caryl, we’re not saved by a denomination, okay, for whatever value they might have.
Caryl: Exactly. We’re saved by faith. And I think what I found being in Roman Catholicism [was] that my faith was always in my experiences and sensations through mystical means, which the church certainly encouraged, whether…. When you walked into a church, I’d make the sign of the cross with the holy water that could forgive me my sins as I entered the church; and if the eucharist light was burning on the altar, then, you know, the presence of God was there. So I didn’t realize that Jesus said, “I will never leave you,” as the Bible says. But when I became a Bible-believing Christian and turned to the Word of God, I realized that Jesus would never leave me. His presence is with me day and night through good, through bad, because that was His promise. So I started learning the Scriptures and relying on the promises of God, which I put my faith in through repentance, through whatever the promises were that He gave me as a Counsellor, as a Helper, as an Advocate, as my intercessory Prayer Warrior, that He is my living High Priest. I didn’t have to go to my Roman Catholic priest and confess my sins, I could now go directly to Jesus. I didn’t have to go to Mary and light candles, because she was the only one that had access to Jesus according to my earlier teachings…
Tom: Caryl, so Volume III - we have a few minutes left, and we’re going to deal with this in our next session - give us a capsule understanding of what Volume III is about.
Caryl: Well, in the early 1900s, there was a new prophetic healing movement that came - was birthed – that sort of began what we know today as the charismatic movement, and that was through the Latter Rain Movement, the Signs and Wonders Movement. And Jesus warned us that at the end, one of the huge sort of warning signs was that there would be signs and lying wonders that would lead people astray. And so Volume III - although I never intended it to turn into five and a half hours and seven episodes! - became an absolute epic, Tom, because there are so many ways that this wrong teaching and the counterfeits have come into the church through music, through altered states of consciousness, through targeting the young generations, through the new apostles and prophetics…the new apostles and prophets, I should say. So Volume III, then, really focuses in on the hyper-charismatic, hyper-Pentecostal movement called the New Apostolic Reformation.
Tom: Mm-hmm. And, Caryl, I watched most of it a couple of days ago; I think I just - because it’s in two discs, I watched the first disc, and I think it’s terrific. You have Chris Quintana, Mike Warren, Johanna Michaelsen, yourself, as well, and a few other interesting interviews. So I would encourage people - you know, Gary will give you at the end of the program Caryl’s website, and how you can get a hold of this really valuable tool, not only for your understanding of what’s going on today, but for something that you might…. If you know somebody who’s into these kinds of things, it can be an opportunity for discussion, and it’s all about getting us back to the Word of God.
So, Caryl, thank you for your time today. We look forward to next week when we’re going to pick up and talk more about Wide Is the Gate: Volume III.