Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call with T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for tuning in. In today’s program, Tom begins a two-part series with guest, author and conference speaker Warren Smith. Here’s TBC executive director Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Today and next week I’ll be discussing an important topic with a friend of mine who is an author of numerous books, including The Light That Was Dark: From the New Age to Amazing Grace, and Deceived On Purpose, as well as another very valuable book that we discussed in detail when he was on with me last, and the book is Another Jesus Calling. But the topic for today and for next week, the Lord willing, is sorcery, and my guest is Warren Smith. Warren, thanks for joining me on Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Warren: Good to be with you, Tom.
Tom: Now, Warren, for our listeners that may not have read your books and they don’t know you as a conference speaker, could you give them kind of an abbreviated version of your New Age background and how you became a born-again, Bible-believing Christian?
Warren: Yeah, I was brought up on the East Coast, was in the Army, lost, didn’t know what to do, floated out to San Francisco, got into psychology, ended up in social work, and it all came down to seeing a psychic. I was doing it to please a woman that I was dating (really was more to do that than anything else), and during the psychic reading, a ball of light manifested, and I was told I had a lot of help on the other side and I needed to ask - give them permission, and ask them to come into my life. I didn’t know anything about Scripture. I had no idea there was a deceptive spirit world, so I did that. I said, “All you on the other side, come into my life,” and after that my life just took off like a rocket ship into all these New Age experiences that included the guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, more psychics, channelers, holistic health - I was certified as a massage practitioner. That was a continuation…everything fed together, Tom. It all led to the same bottom line that taught me that I was a part of God, and that God was in everyone and everything and that we’re all one. And it kind of culminated in A Course in Miracles, which is reputedly new revelation from Jesus Christ channeled through a woman in New York City, the same hospital (Columbia Presbyterian Hospital) that Dr. Mehmet Oz works at. It’s kind of an occult hotbed, it looks like to me. And the Course in Miracles - Jesus said that the journey to the cross is the last useless journey, a slain Christ has no meaning…these are just absurd, contradictory comments to what the Bible says, but I didn’t know the Bible.
And everything was flying high. I was doing the Course in Miracles, my wife and I (girlfriend at the time) were doing dream workshops - we were sort of on the cutting edge, I guess, in bringing the New Age into our Northern California town when some strange things started to happen that caused us to question and to try to figure out what was going on. We had to deal with something that was oppressive, seemingly oppressive, but there was no definition of darkness or evil in our life. And the long and the short of it is that the answer came in a book called The Beautiful Side of Evil by Johanna Michaelsen sitting in the New Age section, healing section of a bookstore in Hermosa Beach, and it just blew my mind, because I read this woman’s account - she went through a lot of the stuff that we did. She ended up being a channeler in Mexico City, things went wrong, she came to these biblical conclusions that just were very apparent to me. And even as I read her book, a homeless mentally ill guy came off the street, started screaming at me, “Am I going to buy that book?” And I just knew there was something going on here. I was reading something that was true, and something that was apparently evil was trying to keep me from reading it, and that was that Jesus is Lord, He died on the cross for our sins, He defeated sin, death, and the devil on that cross, and we became believers after that, and our eyes were opened to all the deception that we’d been involved in. It all felt so good, but it was all so wrong.
Tom: Wow. You know, I’ve probably heard your testimony maybe a dozen times, and it…when I get to hear and know you, Warren, see how God has worked - not just in your life, my life, but all the believers out there. Maybe some aren’t quite as dramatic, but nevertheless, the change in our lives is incredibly dramatic, isn’t it?
Warren: Yeah, I mean, it just - it was completely…we just completely did an about-face with everything that we were doing, and all of a sudden, instead of evangelizing our hometown, we’re going around warning all of our friends that, “Hey, you know that stuff we told you about, the Course in Miracles and about psychics? Don’t do it!”
And most of them just kind of, you know, like, “Well, thanks for sharing,” and they just kept going, and we felt really bad that we had introduced this stuff. We had some people that came to the Lord, but unfortunately that’s what we’re watching today: the church is just imploding, and a lot of this stuff that we were involved with in the New Age is now in the church. It’s not coming at the church, it’s in the church.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Warren, as you know, we’re nearly the same age, which is really germane to what I want to talk about. We both experienced growing up in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and those were the days of Vietnam protests, Woodstock, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, hippies, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and of course the drug culture of those days. And as we talked, in retrospect, you know, both you and I, we’re thankfully surprised that we never got caught up in the drug scene, as many of our generation did. Nevertheless, did the culture itself influence you in your getting involved with things New Age?
Warren: Yeah, I think that when I got out of the Army, I went back to my little town in Connecticut, and it just like - it just didn’t work. I had everything laid out. I was going to go into New York, be a businessman - just didn’t feel right. I was lost, and I knew it. So I just got in my little Volkswagen and drove out to San Francisco like so many other people did, and the atmosphere there was just electrically charged and open. It was kind of like “Do what you like…” I think that was a refrain in one of the popular songs at that time: “Do what you like. If it feels good, do it.”
Golden Gate Park in San Francisco was a hotbed for Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead-played music. We had Hare Krishna groups roaming through the park. Drugs were prevalent. There was a permission to kind of, like, you know, be what you want to be, do what you want to do. And I didn’t really go to any extremes when I first got out there. What I did really was I read a lot of psychology books, which is the way a lot of us get started in the New Age. “Who am I? What am I doing here?” We read psychology books. I remember reading Siddhartha, Hermann Hesse, and then gradually, I just knew that I needed to work more closely with people, and I volunteered for Traveler’s Aid down at the Greyhound bus station. And I worked, you know, helping people that were kind of stuck in the bus station with different situations. I had social workers over me that took the more extreme cases, and that was, you know, really my first introduction to a lot of the real street scene of drugs. On Market Street there’s all sorts of drugs being sold in and out of the bus station; people tripping, having bad trips - we saw some of those people. Again, I wasn’t getting involved spiritually at that time, but there was just so much going on. And as I started working at social services for the city of San Francisco, we would have workshops like on transcendental meditation. We actually had a guy come over at our lunchtime and talk about TM, which was really coming in. As you mentioned, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi from India…that’s what Oprah’s been teaching. She went out to Iowa where the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi has a university. There were Scientologists on street corners taking surveys. We would sometimes go to Glide Church, which was sort of a transitional church that sort of purportedly was Methodist and Christian, but was really an entry point into the New Age thinking.
I remember after John Lennon was shot, I went there with some friends, and we all held hands and basically sang “Let It Be.” And everything just kind of felt good, just like the old Simon and Garfunkel song, you know, “Feeling groovy,” walking down the cobblestone. And everything was just kind of moving in a really kind of positive direction, and the whole milieu…
I remember when I rented an apartment, and when I came back from graduate school with my social work degree, I got an apartment, and the guy who rented it to me was a lawyer, and he said, “Hey,” he says, “would you like to come over to Muktananda’s ashram with me over in Oakland? He’s a great yoga master.”
And I went, “Mm, I don’t really want to, but I guess I will.” And I went over, and all of a sudden I’m sitting there with Swami Baba Muktananda, one of the more powerful gurus coming out of India, and he’s walking around, bopping people on the head with a peacock feather, and they’re going into altered states. So all this was taking place. Just so many different things coming at you. It was sort of like a whole milieu, a whole kind of peer - subtle peer pressure. You walk down the street and you hear George Harrison singing, “Hallelujah, hallelujah, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna.” I mean…
Tom: Mm-hmm. “My sweet Lord.”
Warren: “My sweet Lord,” yeah.
Warren: So it was an amazing time. There were peace protests going on in Golden Gate Park, and just…it was a very tumultuous time. The Vietnam War was coming to a head, it was…there was definitely a cultural influence to kind of be open, you know, be open to whatever. That was a big saying: “Whatever.”
Tom: Warren, for our part in this - when I say “our,” I’m talking about Dave Hunt and myself - as you know, we wrote a book back in the late ‘80s titled America: The Sorcerer’s New Apprentice, and it was subtitled The Rise of New Age Shamanism. In that book we wanted to inform Christians about the New Age movement and its roots in Eastern mysticism, and its connection with the Hindu gurus, shamanism, and sorcery. Now, let’s go over some of those things. Did you see the connection right away after you were drawn into the New Age movement with drugs in particular?
Warren: You know, really not a lot, because what I was doing, I was sort of off on the sideline a little bit. The Rajneesh group - I was with Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh followers, another infamous guru from India, and I really wasn’t that aware of drugs in that particular group, nor was I aware of it with the psychics that I was seeing. But I also knew from my social work job that there were a lot of people that had had mystical experiences, some of them not good, some of them terrible, some of them just almost traumatic. But like you said, we weren’t doing drugs, and I wasn’t really with people that were involved with drugs. I think that probably worked out that way because I really wasn’t involved myself. But I know that drugs had a tremendous influence on so many of the people that I knew, and the things that they were getting involved in. And, you know, I’m just thinking of - remember Don Juan, Carlos Castaneda’s books about the sorcerer down in…what was it, Mexico? And all the trips people would take, drug trips, and that’s where a lot of the LSD… Timothy Leary I remember came to the University of Pennsylvania when I was there. Couldn’t believe it! I mean, here’s a big college auditorium, and Tim Leary just had a free - you know, to go at it and just tell us all about how great LSD was!
Tom: Well, he was a Harvard guy. [laughs]
Tom: So, I mean, he seemed to have credentials and credibility. This issue of drugs - you mentioned Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh - as you know, he purchased about 66 thousand acres about - oh, maybe an hour and a half right from where I’m speaking, from Bend, Oregon. So this is Antelope, Oregon, and he took over what was called the Big Muddy at that time, and drugs were a huge part of it. The Sannyasins took over not only the community…
Anyway, drugs…they were setting up an encampment there with arms, I mean, everything that you could imagine. But that was Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.
But you mentioned Muktananda; also Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, you know, set up camp in - where was it, in Iowa?
Tom: So there was a flood of these Hindu gurus that were coming in, and we know as part of a missionary outreach for Hinduism. But what was your take on these guys?
Warren: Well, it’s interesting, because I wasn’t that far into my faith when Gods of the New Age came out, and Caryl Matrisciana was involved with the production of that film, involved in Johanna Michaelsen, who wrote the book Beautiful Side of Evil that, you know, helped bring me and my wife to the Lord. I think a lot of people today, they look at gurus kind of more like, you know, that was kind of something that happened back in the ‘60s. But I’ll give you an example of the influence these guys had: Muktananda, the one that was walking around bopping people on the head with a peacock feather, when I was at the ashram with this man who was renting me his apartment, he hit on the top of the head Gerald Jampolsky, a psychiatrist who was pretty much a Jewish atheist at the time, and he went into an altered state, went into a completely altered state where he left his body, beautiful colors, love prevailed, and then he ended up being responsible and a very important figure in pushing A Course in Miracles. It was his little book Love Is Letting Go of Fear that was given to me in a holistic health workshop that turned me on to the Course in Miracles, so it really kind of goes back to the gurus. They brought over their whole Eastern “god in everyone,” and they were sort of like the conduit, if you will, to our understanding and awakening to the “god within,” supposedly, that we had, and that was the lie. But they were an incredibly… And you know, I still watch that sometimes, and it has so much truth in it, but it probably looks kind of foreign to a lot of Christians today, because it was something that was more back then. You don’t hear as much about gurus today.
Tom: Well, everything has sort of become more sophisticated, and you mentioned earlier Dr. Oz, and in the same vein of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who started transcendental meditation. Now, I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but Oz today is a national spokesman for TM, transcendental meditation. So, you know, we’ve moved up. Now things that were either hippie-ish or, you know, as our kids today would say, “Well, that was kind of cheesy,” you know, just the clothes, the outfits, and so on. But now we have another level of it that’s influencing many many, because it’s coming under the guise of…well, like Oz: he’s a surgeon! So it’s not like he just stepped off - you know, out from under a cloud somewhere, but he has credibility.
Warren: Absolutely. And interestingly, where there were lots of different things that we got involved in in the old days, Dr. Oz brings it all to you on one platter. I mean, he’ll be interviewing the Long Island psychic housewife one day, John Edward helping the audience communicate with the dead…Oz has endorsed a book by psychic Ainslie MacLeod that has over 175 references to getting spirit guides. But then, you know, he tells you how to lose weight effectively, and how to keep yourself healthy, so people think that his occult stuff probably has some bearing. And then you have someone like Rick Warren bringing Oz into the church to help the church get more healthy. That would be like bringing Simon the sorcerer into the first century church to help it get more healthy. So it’s all channeled through one person now. You can get everything from Dr. Oz, or from Oprah, or indirectly Rick Warren - it’s like it’s a lot more streamlined now.
Tom: And it wasn’t just Oz that Rick Warren brought in - two other doctors…and to promote meditation. Not biblical meditation, but Eastern mystical meditation.
Warren, shamanism, which is really where we want to go with the crux of this program…well, for those who are not aware of the term, it’s a religious practice among mostly native people groups that involves a shaman - or also called a medicine man or witchdoctor - who is in fact a mediator between the spirits and the shaman’s tribe. Now, did you see that related to New Age meditation and channeling?
Warren: Yeah. And like, specifically, I remember meeting a young psychologist at a hot springs in California, and he told me as we were tying our shoes together simultaneously at the same time - you know, big coincidence, that happens all the time in the New Age. “Oh, wow, we’re supposed to talk to each other.” And he said he was working with an amazing man who had been a Napa Valley farmer, and now he was a channeler. And so it was all set up. I came back a couple weeks later to meet the channeler, and the night before I was at the hot spring, I had a dream, and this man’s face hovered right in front of me. I’d never seen him before, and the next day when I knocked on the door of the channeler’s house and he opened the door, it was him.
So, you know, you get these mystic experiences whether it be drugs or dreams. But this channeler, he was acting as a mediator between the spirit world and me and my life, and I would go to him the way that indigenous people would go to the shamans or to the sorcerers to get information or healing or whatever. So I think, really, psychics and channelers…I mean, when you really come down to it, Dr. Oz is really a modern-day shaman.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Oh, without a doubt.
Warren: He said he matriculated at Oprah University, and he’s proud of that. But it’s like you have these people that work as a conduit for the person that’s looking for answers, and then they bring them in from the spirit world, which is of course 1 Timothy:4:1, where we’re warned about in the last days, there’ll be “seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.”
Tom: You know, the interesting thing about Oz, he’s a Muslim, but he’s not a sharia law-type Muslim, he’s more of a mystic Muslim like the…
Warren: He’s a Sufi. He’s a Sufi Muslim.
Tom: Yeah, exactly, and if you’re not familiar with that, folks, if you can think of the whirling dervishes: the part of the ways to get into an altered state of consciousness would be to whirl themselves, go round and round until they have a - whether it be out of body or whatever kind of altered state experience. That’s what that’s all about.
So that’s shamanism. But shamanism relates to sorcery, and in the Bible, sorcery is used in a couple of ways: one, it’s magic arts, or witchcraft, enchantments, and in another way, it’s related to drugs. In that sense, the Greek term translated as sorcery is pharmakeia, from which we get our term “pharmacy.”
Now, again, Warren, when we’re talking about shamanism, you know, the shaman with indigenous people, they would inhale hallucinogenic drugs to put themselves into an altered state so that they could contact the spirit realm. And the amazing thing about shamanism is that, well, it’s a term taken from a tribe or a people group in Siberia, yet when you look at shamanism all around the world, in villages that have never had - or tribes that have never had any contact with people outside of their area, their shamanism is always the same. So what does that tell you about the - let’s call it the theology or the practice of shamanism if it’s connected from Siberia down to Haiti down to a Pacific Island or a tribe in Africa, and they’ve never had contact with one another, there must be a spiritual direction, and that’s what goes on. When these individuals are contacting the spirit realm and contacting individuals, they get the same stuff all over the world, right?
Warren: Yeah, it’s…we hear a lot about connectedness. The question is, “Connected to what?”
Warren: And as we found out, darkness is behind a lot of this seeming light that looks so good, feels so good, but isn’t good.
Tom: Warren, what I’m trying to do here, and maybe I’m - well, actually we’ve got a few minutes left, but I’m trying to set up the background for discussing an article that I sent to you from the New Yorker that more than implies that the drug culture of the ‘60s and ‘70s is, you know, as you mentioned earlier, it just seems to have - whether it be the gurus, whatever - it seems to have faded away. But it’s coming back big time, only this time with the endorsement of the establishment. So, you know, whether it be medical doctors at John Hopkins, whether it be those who head up medical institutions, whether it be academia, there is something going on here that’s trying to bring back drug use, and I’m not talking about drugs like penicillin or something like that - really, hallucinogenic drugs or psychedelic drugs.
Now, what’s interesting about that is that the folks who are now in charge, who are leading these corporations, institutions, and so on, Warren, they’re our peers. They went through the same ‘60s and ‘70s that we did - probably not all I’m saying here, but…not all, I would guess, but many of them were a part of that drug scene, and now they’re in positions to… You know, then it was illegal, but now they’re bringing it back with a fury. Have you caught any of that? Are you aware of that?
Warren: Yeah, I know what you’re saying, which - the drug scene, yes, but they bring with them and their background in the drug scene the mystical experiences that they had, the philosophy, the belief system, the New Age beliefs that they have now, and they, you know, weave those into whatever they’re doing. As a social worker, I was bringing all sorts of stuff into my office. I would come back from workshops, I would pass out materials - I got some of the counselors there involved with the Course in Miracles… I think like “est” - remember the Erhard…
Warren: …training seminars, and the whole thing was, “Do you get it? Get it? Got it? Good.” You know, it’s, “Did you get it? Did you get the bottom line?” which is God in everything. And then that transformed into - what, the Forum? I mean, you’ve done documentation on all this stuff. You know, the Forum went into businesses…
You know, I had a friend who was an electrical engineer in San Jose, and he was also a pastor, and he had an in-service training where they were doing the tarot and all this stuff, and he just said, “I’m sorry, I can’t do this.” There’s pressure that’s being put on people in businesses.
And right now, like, just a couple of weeks ago, I talked to a young man who was very suicidal in Colorado, and he was seeing a counselor, and the counselor told him after giving him some psychotropic drugs to help alleviate the distress that he should read the Course in Miracles, and this was his counsel. So this is all - it’s mainstream. What we were warning about, what you and Dave and others were warning about before I was in the New Age and what we’ve all been warning about since I came in is this whole idea that, you know, things are being turned upside down, and what we were warning about is now in the church, it’s in the world, it’s mainstream.
You know, The Aquarian Conspiracy, Marilyn Ferguson said, “We’re coming at you with the New Age. We’re not going to be able to pull it off right away, but we will be able to do it when it’s widely communicated.” Enter Oprah Winfrey, and now there’s a book that just came out a couple years ago called Occult America: “We’re here, we did it, here’s how we did it,” and they even reference people like Norman Vincent Peale.
Tom: So we’re out of time for this segment, but hopefully we’re going to get into the issues of prophecy being fulfilled. Scripture says that sorcery in the last days is going to be overwhelming, and that’s what we want to talk about. So again, Warren, thanks for being with me, and Lord willing we’ll get on this next week.
Warren: Thanks, Tom.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 featuring T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter, contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon 97708. Call us at 800-937-6638, or visit our website at thebereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for joining us, and we hope you can tune in again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.