[Excerpts from Crept In Unawares: Mysticism by Heath Henning is available for purchase here.]

In chapter six of The Pursuit of God, entitled “the Speaking Voice,” A.W. Tozer repeats the most common verse out of contexts to teach silence to hear God’s voice.

To a people caught in the tempest of the last great conflict God says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10), and still He says it, as if He means to tell us that our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence….

   The Bible will never be a living Book to us until we are convinced that God is articulate in His universe…. A man… is a victim of a divided psychology. He tries to think of God as mute everywhere else and vocal only in a book.1)A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Christian Publications Inc., 1982, 1993, p. 73-74

This interpretation of Psalms 46:10 is marked in Walter Martin’s Cult Reference Bible as “Eastern/Occultic2)Walter Martin, Walter Martin’s Cults Reference Bible (KJV), Vision House Publishers, 1981, p. 498 to indicate how it is commonly used out of context. C. Murray Rogers, an Anglican priest involved with interfaith dialogue took to the experience based religion of the Eastern mysticism.

One great gift of my brothers and sisters in Asia, in the families of Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism, is to convince me that we dare not stop with words or concepts, that the eidos level is a false halting-place. Only the “knowledge of God”, the vision of God, in the biblical sense of deep experience, counts…. To know about God, to talk about God, to preach about prayer, is very different from knowing God, from tasting and practicing contemplative prayer. [emphasis in original]3)C. Murray Rogers, “On the Pilgrim Path,” Tosh Arai and Wesley Ariarajah, ed., Spirituality in Interfaith Dialogue, Orbis Books, 1989, p. 15

Also casting away proper hermeneutics by taking the poetic language of Scriptures for literal experiences, Tozer convinces his readers that through the five senses, Christians are capable of knowing God closer.

What can all this mean except that we have in our hearts organs by means of which we can know God as certainly as we know material things through our familiar five senses?…

   And this not by any trick of the imagination but in downright actuality. The soul has eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear. Feeble they may be from long disuse, but by the life-giving touch of Christ they are now alive and capable of sharpest sight and most sensitive hearing….

   A new God-consciousness will seize upon us and we shall begin to taste and hear and inwardly feel God, who is our life and our all.4)A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Christian Publications Inc., 1982, 1993, p. 47, 53-54

An “actual” ability to “know God” with our “five senses” is to “inwardly feel God” which he identifies as “God-consciousness” to become “our all.”  Historian Robin Lane Fox expressed the spiritual ideals of the ancient pagans in the Roman Empire.

…the idea of an encounter [with pagan deities] was central to the entire mystery rite…. Magic offered a technique for bringing close encounters to pass: it was a systemization of an older hope, not a strange innovation….

  Their visions were not a passive escape but a positive search for knowledge. People wanted to know the secrets of higher theology, not because they were oppressed, but because the schools and philosophers had raised so many more questions than they had been able to answer….

   Shortly before the birth of theurgy, pupils of the wise pagan god, the Thrice-great Heremes, were already aspiring to a spiritual experience of God…. In their more spiritual texts, we meet a new note of mystical union with God, the god of the philosophers, not the “helpers” of Homeric epic. Here, the relation between a sense of presence and the “affective state” of the subject becomes more explicit: emotion is a criterion of an encounter with God. The subject’s identity become joined or merged with the Other he seems to encounter. The sight of Him, the texts taught, shuts out sound and brings stillness and immobility: it comes and goes, varying with the beholder’s capacity. It is an apprehension of God through the “eye of the soul,” not the eye of the body, and in this new sense, it develops the older types of encounter.5)Robin Lane Fox, Pagans and Christians, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1987, p. 125-126

So Tozer’s expressions of encountering God with the eyes of the soul and other mystical senses parallels that of ancient pagan mystical experiences identified as encounters with their pagan deities.

The Corpus Hermeticum is the ancient text of the pagan mystery religion of Egypt commonly called Hermeticism. David Barrett expressed, “Hermes Trismegistus, after whom Hermetic Philosophy, a version of Western esoteric spirituality, is named.”6)David V. Barrett, The New Believers: A Survey of Sects, Cults and Alternative Religions, Cassell & Co., 2001, p. 275 The “Hermetic Philosophy” is the occult science behind the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn which Aleister Crowley was a member of. This also explains his book entitled The Book of Thoth. “As soon as the Greeks became acquainted with Egypt, they identified the Egyptian god Thoth, the inventor of the hieroglyphs, with Hermes, the most learned of their own deities.”7)The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts, Marvin Meyer (ed), HarperCollins Publishers, 2007, p. 795 Hermes was believed to bring the wisdom of the gods to men.

It should come as no surprise to understand the method The Hermeticum teaches to learn the wisdom of the gods. Within The Hermeticum, Hermes instructs Tat “if you cannot see what is within, how can God who is Himself within you appear to you through your eyes?”8)The Corpus Hermeticum, Book 5: Hermes to Tat; in  The Way of Hermes: New Translation of The Corpus Hermeticum and the Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius, Tran. By Clement Salaman, Dorine Van Oven, William D. Wharton, and Jean-Pierre Mahe, Inner Traditions International, 2000, p. 34 The implication is you would need spiritual eyes to see God with the mystical senses. Tat is further instructed “Make idle the senses of the body and the spirit will be born.”9)The Corpus Hermeticum Book 13: Hermes to Tat; in The Way of Hermes: New Translation of The Corpus Hermeticum and the Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius, Tran. By Clement Salaman, Dorine Van Oven, William D. Wharton, and Jean-Pierre Mahe, Inner Traditions International, 2000, p. 66-67 This experience of God comes from entering the silence. “When you have nothing to say about it, then you will see it; for the experience of it is the silence of God and the withdrawal of all the senses.”10)The Corpus Hermeticum Book 10: Hermes to Tat; in The Way of Hermes: New Translation of The Corpus Hermeticum and the Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius, Tran. By Clement Salaman, Dorine Van Oven, William D. Wharton, and Jean-Pierre Mahe, Inner Traditions International, 2000, p. 46 This is to silence the physical senses in order to have your spiritual senses enlightened and your spiritual ears will hear from God. “receive pure offerings of speech offered to you by inner mind and heart, thou who art unutterable, vast, beyond description, who art spoken of by silence.”11)The Corpus Hermeticum Book 1: Poimandres to Hermes Trismegistus; in The Way of Hermes: New Translation of The Corpus Hermeticum and the Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius, Tran. By Clement Salaman, Dorine Van Oven, William D. Wharton, and Jean-Pierre Mahe, Inner Traditions International, 2000 p.  24

The early church view of Hermes was presented by Athenagoras in the second century. “But as Alexander and Hermes surnamed Trismegistus, who shares with them in the attribute of eternity, and innumerable others, not to name them individually, [declare the same], no room is left even for doubt that they, being kings, were esteemed gods.”12)Athenagoras, A Plea For the Christians, chap. XXIIX; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 2, p. 144 In the context of this quote, interestingly, Athenagoras attributes an antitype of the antichrist in that it is a deified god-man king and occult priests of the mystery religions. Clement of Alexandria explained Hermes writings were necessities for initiates of the Egyptian Mystery religions. He wrote, “of certain of the tenets which pertain to each sect being culled from other Barbarians, chiefly from the Egyptians— both other tenets, and that especially of the transmigration of the soul. For the Egyptians pursue a philosophy of their own…. For they say that he must learn two of the books of Hermes… with a horologe in his hand, and a palm, the symbols of astrology. He must have the astrological books of Hermes, which are four in number, always in his mouth. Of these, one is about the order of the fixed stars that are visible, and another about the conjunctions and luminous appearances of the sun and moon; and the rest respecting their risings…. There are then forty-two books of Hermes indispensably necessary[.]”13)Clement of Alexandria, The Stromata, Or Miscellanies, Book VI, chap. IV; The Ante-Nicene Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; 1885-1887, Hendrickson, 1994, Vol. 2, p. 488 Both of these early church fathers understood, “Hermetic religion has much in common with Gnostic spirituality.”14)The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts, Marvin Meyer (ed), HarperCollins Publishers, 2007, p. 795 The apostle Paul spoke of the magicians Jannes and Jambres, who would have been initiates of the Hermetic mystery religion in Egypt, comparing them to the end times apostasy (2 Timothy 3:8).

Naturally, Gnosticisms thrived in Egypt where it was nourished with Hermetic doctrines. It was in Nag Hammadi Egypt where a library of Gnostic manuscripts was unearthed in 1945 revealing to the world what was contained in secret societies for centuries. “Occultism provides a common background for Hermetic and Gnostic writings in the Nag Hammadi library.”15)The Nag Hammadi Scriptures: The Revised and Updated Translation of Sacred Gnostic Texts, Marvin Meyer (ed), HarperCollins Publishers, 2007, p. 798 Hegel was a Hermeticist and his dialectic philosophy has impacted Christian theology to the degree of reviving Gnosticism. One of the major factors of the Hermetic theology was panentheism (God is in all things). The Hermeticum teaches “God is not idle else all would be idle, for everything is full of God…. The Creator is in everything.”16)The Corpus Hermeticum Book 11: Nous to Hermes; in The Way of Hermes: New Translation of The Corpus Hermeticum and the Definitions of Hermes Trismegistus to Asclepius, Tran. By Clement Salaman, Dorine Van Oven, William D. Wharton, and Jean-Pierre Mahe, Inner Traditions International, 2000 p. 53

The purpose of this form of meditation in the Eastern religions is to become aware of your deity (god-consciousness) and that of nature’s deity (pantheism) and to understand the union the individual has with nature (monism). These basic tenets of mysticism should therefore come to no surprise that Tozer presented similar conclusions. “God dwells in His creation and is everywhere indivisibly present in all His works.”17)A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Christian Publications Inc., 1982, 1993, p. 55 The idea that God is in all things is the doctrine of panentheism, and has been the middle ground between Christian apostates and the neo-pagan New Age movement, and will undoubtedly be the doctrine of antichrist’s world religion.

Another individual involved with the interfaith dialogue explains that this panentheism is at the heart of contemplative practices. Swami Amaldas said, “Among the gifts given by God to India, the greatest is that of interiority, the awareness of the presence of God dwelling in the heart of every human person, which is fostered by prayer and meditation, by contemplative silence and the practice of yoga and sannyasa.”18)Swami Amaldas, “Interiority, Awareness and Realization,” Tosh Arai and Wesley Ariarajah, ed., Spirituality in Interfaith Dialogue, Orbis Books, 1989, p.32 William Johnston comment correlates with Tozer’s “God-consciousness,” saying:

we imagine that we are separated from God, from the universe and from other people. And this small, separate self is illusory….

When I lose the consciousness of separation and isolation in order to embrace the consciousness of the all, I am reaching a state that Buddhism calls emptiness and Christianity calls humility.19)William Johnston, Letters to Contemplatives, Orbis Books, 1992, p. 68

The Emergent church has embraced this oneness with the all while rejecting the vicarious blood atonement of Christ.

We are being moved, as a community, beyond theories about atonement, to enter into atonement itself, or at-one-ment —the new reality and new relationship of oneness with God which Christ incarnated (in life, cross, and resurrection) and into which we are all invited “for all time.”20)Kare Ward, “The Emerging Church and Communal Theology,” in Robert Webber, Listening to the Beliefs of the Emergent Churches, Zondervan, 2007, p. 164, as cited by Roger Oakland, Faith Undone: the emerging church… a new reformation or an end-time deception, Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2007, p. 217

Contemplative prayer is a major factor in the Emergent church. “On virtually every emerging church website I have seen and every emergent church book I have read, a full contemplative menu of mantra meditation, labyrinths, the silence, books by authors as Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Richard Foster, and so on, is offered.”21)Brian Flynn, Running Against the Wind: the transformation of a new age medium and his warning to the church, second edition, Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2005, p. 202 Many Emergent website mention Tozer to justify contemplative prayer among orthodox Protestants. R. D. Clements warned, “Satan is quite capable of providing spiritual experiences for the undiscerning. And there is evidence that some, if not all, of the mystic experiences obtained by using Eastern meditative techniques are being exploited by Satan in this way.”22)R. D. Clements, God & the Gurus, Inter Varsity Press, 1975, p. 42 Brian Flynn asked, “Why would a method that has never brought any person of an Eastern religion to the truth of Christ bring a Christian closer to Christ?”23)Brian Flynn, Running Against the Wind: the transformation of a new age medium and his warning to the church, second edition, Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2005, p. 177

[Excerpts from Crept In Unawares: Mysticism by Heath Henning is available for purchase here.]

print

References   [ + ]