Excerpts from The Polluted Church: From Rome to Kansas City
Chapter 9: Praying Like Pagans
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” Matthew 6:7 (NIV)
On July 6, 1988, John Stephens, a relief tanker driver working for Bristol-based distribution firm ISC, arrived at Lowermoor Water Treatment Works on Bodmin Moor and found it unmanned. Being unfamiliar with the location, he had been given a key by another driver and instructed simply, ‘...once inside the gate, the aluminum sulphate tank is on the left.’ However, he was unaware that the key he was given fit almost every lock used by the South West Water Authority (SWWA). After twenty minutes of looking for the correct tank, Stephens tried the key on a manhole cover and when it unlocked, he believed that he had accessed the correct tank. He poured the load of 20 tons of aluminum sulphate, (used to remove solid particles from cloudy water), into the tank, which actually held treated water that was ready for distribution to the consumers in Camelford. This immediately contaminated the water supply to 20,000 local people and up to 10,000 tourists. The maximum recorded aluminum concentration was 620,000 micrograms per liter compared with the maximum concentration admissible at the time by the European Community of 200 micrograms per liter.
The sad thing is that within two days the water authority had identified the source of the contamination, but they lied to the public and told them the water was safe to drink. The SWWA district manager, John Lewis, said they had realized within 48 hours that aluminum sulphate was the likely cause of the contamination, but Lewis said he had been instructed by Leslie Nicks, the Head of Operations, not to tell the public. So, for two days they could truly claim ignorance on their claims that the contaminated water was safe to drink. However, when they realized the truth about the aluminum sulphate, their cover-up became a willful deception of the public and caused much more suffering and death.
“In 2006, a post-mortem inquest into the death of Carol Cross at age 58, who was exposed to the contaminated drinking water aged 44, showed that her brain contained 23 micrograms of aluminum per gram of brain, compared to the normal brain levels 0 to 2 micrograms per gram. It also revealed that she died of an unusual form of early-onset beta-amyloid angiopathy, a rare type of Alzheimer’s disease. Her husband believes that 20 other people have died as a result of the disaster and that more cases are emerging. Victim Sarah Sillifant, who was in her twenties when she was exposed, hanged herself in 2005 after suffering dementia and other symptoms similar to those experienced by Carol Cross.’ And a study published in 1999 concluded that hundreds of people who were exposed to the contaminated water at Camelford suffered considerable damage to cerebral function, which was not related to anxiety.”
I share this story because it is a perfect example of what has been going on in the church for many decades. The water of the teaching of God’s Word and even the ministry of prayer has been polluted by Christian leaders. Like the substitute tanker driver at Camelford, some of them may have the best of intentions, but either through ignorance, or negligence, or a faulty belief system, they have mixed eastern religious practices into the foundational spiritual disciplines of Christianity. As I have stated, they call it contemplative prayer or meditation, but any close examination of their “contemplative” practices reveals that they are nothing more than pagan techniques with Christian labels on them. Those promoting this counterfeit spirituality have been deceived and are now deceiving others. Whether they are doing it intentionally or ignorantly there will be serious adverse affects on those who drink in their teachings.
Here are two examples: In an article entitled Mystical Encounters for Christians, well-known Baptist author and minister Tony Campolo wrote, “Believing the gospel was never a problem for me, but during times of reflection I sensed that believing in Jesus and living out His teachings just wasn’t enough. There was a yearning for something more, and I found that I was increasingly spiritually gratified as I adopted older ways of praying—ways that have largely been ignored by those of us in the Protestant tradition. Counter-Reformation saints like Ignatius of Loyola have become important sources of help as I have begun to learn from them modes of contemplative prayer. I practice what is known as “centering prayer,” in which a SACRED WORD is REPEATED as a way to be in God’s presence.”
The Charismatic prophet and author Jim Goll put it this way in an article that he wrote for Charisma Magazine in 2004: “Contemplative prayer often has been relegated to ancient church history. But God is restoring it as a means to develop intimacy with Him. I have found that the most direct road to greater intimacy with God has come through the practice or discipline of an almost lost art in the fast-paced church of today--something called contemplative prayer. More than a decade ago this type of prayer came to my attention through some experiences God ordained, and since that time it has become one of the central features of my walk with God.” He then goes on to quote Richard Foster and Roman Catholic mystics St. Bernard of Clairvaux and Madam Guyon. He also makes a reference to the Egyptian Desert Fathers and the “interior castle” which is a concept from Teresa of Avila. Notice that once again we see the connection and strong influence of Rome. I believe it is safe to say that Jim Goll can be placed firmly among those who advocate repetitive prayer and visualization.
As I stated in previous chapters, Jesus warned that the last days would be filled with deceivers who come in His name and that many people would be deceived. The Greek word for ‘deceived’ that Jesus used in Matthew 24 is ‘planao’ and it means to roam from safety, truth, or virtue (See Strong’s #4105). The Holy Spirit also warned us through the Apostle Paul that “…in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (1 Tim. 4:1). Mr. Campolo is a good example of someone leaving the truth for Roman Catholic heresy. But, how does that happen? How can a person who knows the truth of God’s Word and Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, end up in deception and possibly even departing from the faith entirely? Where does this deception start?
The Apostle James told us where all deception begins when he wrote, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves” (James 1:22). In other words, all deception begins when you hear the Word of God and choose not to obey it. That is where it started for Eve. She had to disregard God’s exact command and opt for Satan’s adjusted version. Thus, the moment a person chooses to disobey a Biblical command, they immediately open a door for seducing spirits to get hold of their mind.
Some people have a hard time accepting that their favorite preacher could be deceived in an area and need correction. These people have become too “man” oriented and just blindly follow their guy no matter what. Some even refuse to admit that their guy could fall or be in dangerous error because how God may have used their favorite minister in the past. They fail to realize that he or she may have been walking in truth and the anointing of the Holy Spirit back then, but now a few years down the road, they are way off of the Word of God and flowing in other spirits.
Here are just a few Biblical examples of people who started out godly and used by the Holy Spirit in powerful ways but then disobeyed God and opened doors to deceiving spirits. Of course Adam and Eve are our first and best examples. They were sinless and walked in perfect fellowship with God. They knew Him face to face. Their level of intimacy with the Lord was beyond what we can even imagine. The talked and fellowshipped with Him in person every day, but yet they chose to listen to Satan’s teaching on the forbidden tree instead of God’s very specific command. And in 1 Samuel 13-30, we see King Saul (who God gave a new spiritual heart, was anointed as king, and operating in the gift of prophecy) disobey God’s commands and then an evil spirit began to trouble him. That evil spirit then influenced Saul to kill eighty priests of the Lord and had him chase David to kill him for years. Saul even tried to kill his own son once while under the influence of that evil spirit. Another illustration of godly people falling into deception is the “prophets of the Lord” who compromised with Jezebel. Their compromise with that wicked woman opened the door for a lying spirit to deceive all of them into giving a false prophecy to King Ahab and King Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 18).
We are given a couple of examples with King David, the man after God’s own heart. In Deuteronomy 7:22-26, we see some very clear commands, “And the LORD thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee. But the LORD thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed. And He shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them. The GRAVEN IMAGES of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is on them, nor TAKE it unto thee, lest thou be SNARED therein: for it is an ABOMINATION to the LORD thy God. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine HOUSE, lest YOU be a CURSED thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing