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Archived Lectures

Along with the evangelical mega-churches of America, the Methodist and Presbyterian denominations also promote a New Age spiritual formation.

Florida United Methodist Church (FLUMC)

The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church advocates mystical spiritual formation through their Conference Spiritual Formation Team. The Team currently provides the following:

    1.    Five Day Academy for Spiritual Formation
    2.    Monthly Formation Gatherings
    3.    Information about Spiritual Direction
    4.    Spiritual Direction available at LEC in connection              with Gatherings
    5.    Prayer Labyrinth at LECi

Their stance on spiritual direction is that "In selecting a spiritual director one does not necessarily have to be of the same denomination or faith. A director helps the directee notice God’s movement in prayer and in the events and circumstances of one’s life."ii

Along with seminars on Taize worshipiii and journaling through active imagination,iv the Formation Gatherings offered through FLUMC in the past few years have also included these topics:

“The Prayer Labyrinth: Encountering the Holy Spirit on the Journey Within.”<

Participants will learn about the history of the labyrinth and experience the labyrinth prayer path, followed by sharing, worship and communion.v

“Monastic Spirituality.”

In the last several decades many monastic communities have sprung up as people have tired of formal religion and sought a closer communion with God. This seminar will clarify the dynamics that have arisen out of monastic spirituality.vi

“Encountering God through the Natural World”

This gathering will examine how the experience of being shaped and formed by the natural world connects with a person’s Christian spirituality. Journaling, storytelling, prayer and observation will help participants reconnect with God and the natural world.vii

The Presbyterian Church

Chung Kyung

South Korean Presbyterian minister and professor Chung Kyung teaches that many religions can lead to God. She said this:

I feel like my bowel is Shamanist, my heart is Buddhist, my right brain is Confucianist, and my left brain is Christian...I call it a family of gods and...they are together.viii

In 1991, she gave a keynote address at the WCC Assembly in Canberra, Australia. She arrived on stage with two aboriginal dancers in loincloths, and 16 Korean men with gongs and drums. Chung then invited audience members to remove their shoes while dancing to prepare the way for the Spirit:

Combining verbal fireworks with a performance by Korean and aboriginal dancers, Chung rendered a dramatic evocation of a female Holy Spirit…Eighteen times Chung summoned the spirits of the dead who have suffered injustices and claimed that "without hearing the cries of these spirits, we cannot hear the voice of the Holy Spirit…

"Don’t bother the Spirit by calling her all the time." Added Chung, "I hope the presence of all our ancestors’ spirits here with us shall not make you uncomfortable."ix

With candles burning on either side, she invoked spirits of the dead by reading them off a list. Among the departed spirits called were Hagar, Uriah, the children killed by Herod, Joan of Arc, Jewish people killed in World War II, Malcom X, and even "the spirit of the Liberator, our brother Jesus, tortured and killed on the cross."

Chung Kyung's actions show the deep reliance modern Christianity has on experiential religion. They show that the denominations' drive towards unity is not based on the truth of Scripture, and that today's Church misunderstands the process of death. These seances and New Age activities are becoming more and more common in circles that practice mystic spirituality.

American Presbyterian Church

Through the work of its Spiritual Formation Leadership Network, the Presbyterian Church in America is teaching spiritual disciplines and promoting spiritual direction.x

Their website suggests taking part in "the Labyrinth Experience as a personal practice for healing and growth, a tool for community building, an agent for global peace and a metaphor for life."xi

The website also recommends books written by Tilden Edwards, the director of Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation and former director of the Metropolitan Ecumenical Training Center.xii,xiii

The Bible speaks of transformation not formation. Instead of seeking mystical experiences and the advice of spiritual directors from any religion, let's seek to use our alert and conscious minds to read Scripture and pray. It is in this attitude of obedience and trust in God's Word—and not through Labyrinth walking or communing with the natural world—that we will be transformed by God into the people He created us to be.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).

 


 

i. "The Role of The Conference Spiritual Formation Team," www.flumcspiritualformation.org.

ii. "Spiritual Direction," www.flumcspiritualformation.org.

iii. Melinda Trotti, "Taize worship workshop makes its way to Fruitland Park," Florida United Methodist News Service e-review (November 22, 2008).

iv. "Journaling Through Active Imagination," Gulf Central District Newsletter (October 2009).

v. Melinda Trotti, "Spiritual Formation team announces Formation Gatherings," Florida United Methodist News Service e-review (June 12, 2008).

vi. Ibid.

vii. Ibid.

viii. William T. James, Editor, Foreshocks of Antichrist (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1997): 58.

ix. Dave Hunt, “The Greening of the Cross,” The Berean Call (July 1997): 1.

x. "Questions to Consider," www.pcusa.org

xi. "Opportunities for Study and Retreat," www.pcusa.org

xii. "Sabbath Keeping Resources," www.pcusa.org

xiii. Tilden Edwards, Spiritual Friend (Paulist Press, 1980): back cover.