Thursday, October 13, 2005

Popular neoevangelical terms -- What do they really mean?

Here is a little vocabulary exercise for Herescope readers. Read each of these definitions below. Then ask yourself the following questions: Are these terms being used in evangelicalism today? Can you find them in the Bible? Is so, check a good concordance and look up the definitions. If not, where did the terms come from?

Are neoevangelical leaders using these terms in the same way that the pagans use them?

VISUALIZATION A loose term for numerous practices in which mental pictures are called up and used for different purposes: to contact someone telepathically, heal from a distance, achieve a desired state (happiness, peace, courage), attain a desired goal or possession (fame, money, sexual charm). Encompasses many popular practices now in use, though the discipline itself is very ancient and seems to have been developed in almost every culture of the past. May be divided into two classes: CREATIVE VISUALIZATION for the purpose of producing external effects and the use of visual imagery for inner exploration of the processes of the unconscious, as in the Jungian work.

QUEST The act of seeking, either for oneself or for one’s purpose. . . . Typically it involves entering upon a PATH of experience that does not necessarily lead to a fixed and final goal, because the very process of traversing the path evolves into an ongoing act of self-discovery. The quest is a developmental and educational process, which in our time calls for the discipline of PATHFINDING, due to the enormous array of options that face the seeker. Through questing, one comes to a sense of purpose as well as a state of enlightenment regarding one’s relationship to God, to self, to others, and to the events of one’s time. One image of the quest is the LABYRINTH. . . . In the Western Mysteries, the question (usually of the hero or demigod) represents in story form the process of individuation. See also VISION QUEST, SERVICE.

VISION QUEST A term made popular in the current revival of shamanism, referring to a long-established practice common to the American Indians, Siberian shamans, and Australian Aborigines, in which the seeker of self-knowledge and spiritual power (often a boy at the age of puberty) enters upon a deliberate ordeal of seclusion, fasting, and prayer, with the aim of self-purification and the hope of receiving a vision that will show him his true path in life. Equivalent to the QUEST in European folklore.

PATH ‘. . . progress, a way of going.' Any way of self-discovery; any method of teaching that leads to increased self-awareness and deeper participation in life; any technique of practical and/or theoretical use in exploring and evolving human potential. Not the where, but the way of getting there. At worst, a serious distraction from being here. Specifically, a spiritual path is a way of progressing toward a richer and keener awareness of how we are all involved in the dynamic of life as intricate parts of a vital, all-encompassing whole. . . . See also LIFE-PATH.”

These definitions are excerpted from The Seekers Handbook: The Complete Guide To Spiritual Pathfinding by John Lash (Harmony Books, 1990) which is basically an annotated occult dictionary.

Are evangelicals leaders putting a glossy whitewash on these words to make them appear biblical? You decide!

The Truth:

"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." (Proverbs 29:18)

"Thy WORD is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105)

"Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." (Psalm 16:11)

"Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight." (Psalm 119:35)

More on this topic tomorrow!