Question (composite of several): One of the hottest books in Christian bookstores is Quenching the Spirit by William De Arteaga. The author is appearing on major Christian TV networks and this book is having quite an impact. What do you think of it?
Response: The basic thesis of the book is that God repeatedly brings new truth to the church through first revealing it to cults and occult groups. Therefore, the fact that unbiblical practices such as visualization, inner healing, positive thinking, and positive confession came out of the occult is really in their favor because that's how God works! So those using these occult techniques can feel good about it, though no biblical basis for their use is provided. Charismatics love the book, and it is highly recommended by almost everyone in that camp, from inner-healer Rita Bennett to Jack Hayford and Oral Roberts. Fuller Seminary professor C. Peter Wagner calls it "a valuable picture of opposition to new and unusual works of the Holy Spirit, from John Calvin to Dave Hunt. . . ."
De Arteaga validates charismatic mind-over-matter techniques by arguing that quantum physics proves that "mind-observation" affects subatomic particles. This is a myth promoted by New Age physicists. In fact, something must make contact with an object for human observation to occur. Ordinarily, light photons bounce off an object and create an image in the eye and brain. Light bouncing off a car has a negligible effect upon it. To bounce a photon off a subatomic particle, however, in order to "observe" it, is like bouncing a car off a car—so of course observation affects a subatomic particle. It is not the influence of the mind of the observer, however, that causes the effect, as De Arteaga mistakenly suggests.
From this misunderstanding of quantum physics, De Arteaga reasons that because "the mind inherently has some tiny power [to influence subatomic particles] . . . by faith the mind acts in the power of God and can move mountains" (pp 162-63). God's power is seen as a force our minds operate when we obey "spiritual laws." To De Arteaga, these laws channel God's power. This principle, he says, was opened by "the Logos" to the metaphysical cults and from there came into the church. In fact, the source was Satan, and the biblicized "science of mind" he promotes is still sorcery. He has no comprehension that the miracles he espouses cannot be the product of laws but of God's overriding of laws. (See "Science and God," TBC Sep. 1992.)
De Arteaga sounds scholarly and convincing. If, however, his treatment of me, which occupies a considerable part of the book, is representative, then very little of Quenching is factually trustworthy. My beliefs and writings have never been so badly misconstrued—not even in Witch Hunt by the Passantinos.
The thesis of Quenching was previously presented by De Arteaga in Past Life Visions (1983): "The Holy Spirit will flow into occult groups if it (sic) is blocked out by Orthodox Christians: (p 17). The earlier book is helpful in understanding De Arteaga because in it his heresies are not as cleverly disguised as in the present volume. In Visions (p 132), he lauds Agnes Sanford's incredibly heretical The Healing Light (see The Seduction of Christianity for an analysis); defends her belief in a pre-earth human existence (pp 145-6); seems to embrace evolution of man from lower species (p 126); declares that "ghosts" are "earthbound souls" (p 187) who may legitimately communicate with the living (p 182) and that the dead should be ministered to by the church (p 183). He argues that reincarnation is biblical and was even "validated by Jesus" (pp 197-209) and that such a gospel is helpful for India because it allows "the Hindu to maintain . . . the concept of karma-reincarnation" (p 215); and he recommends regression into past lives as a standard method of spiritual healing for the church to adopt (pp 151-63). If it brings comfort to leading charismatics to have such a heretic support them, then so be it.