Wednesday, November 14, 2007

What is "Rethinking"?

"True perception is the means by which the world is saved from sin,
for sin does not exist.
And it is this that true perception sees."
--A Course in Miracles, Manual for Teachers (Foundation for Inner Peace, 1992) p. 85 [emphasis added]

In his November 9 Herescope article entitled, "'Oprah and Friends' To Teach Course on New Age Christ," former New Age follower Warren Smith warned that a false Christ teaches a Course in Miracles using the methods of "mind training" and "thought reversal."

This "mind training and "thought reversal" sounded an awful lot like "rethinking." Curious about what this might mean, we began to investigate the concept of "rethinking" itself. We began with what has been called "the New Age Bible" -- A Course in Miracles.

As we thumbed through A Course in Miracles, we noticed that it physically resembles a Bible. It is printed on fine-quality paper and is divided into chapters and verses. There is a hefty Concordance of 1106 pages that contains references to these "verses." It is very seductive, in that it uses biblical terms and phrases repeatedly. But intermixed throughout is pure New Age occultism. It would be mind-boggling to try to take every statement and dissect it. Which is perhaps the point.

The most astonishing feature of this "bible" is its obvious dedication to the re-orientation of people's thought processes; i.e., "rethinking." It is a structured step-by-step psycho-spiritual training program that teaches people how to "re-think." Each lesson builds upon the previous lesson, in a methodical deconstruction of old patterns of thinking. An early lesson acknowledges that "you fear the destruction of your thought system" (Text, p. 51). But this Course is a systematic and patterned reconstruction of the mind based on new ways of seeing, perceiving and thinking. The word "mind" and its derivatives is covered by nine large pages with 3 columns of small type in the Concordance. The term "perception" and its derivatives covers 3 pages.

The Preface states that the Course "makes a fundamental distinction between the real and the unreal; between knowledge and perception. " "Perception" is said to be "based on interpretation, not on facts" (p. x). By the end of the curricula what is called "true perception" is said to be the "one correction possible for false perception," not "knowledge" (Manual for Teachers, p. 85). Rational thought, which has been systematically demolished throughout the Course, is thereby discarded.

The word "still" is used frequently in the sense of meditation and contemplation -- as in "be still." This is so that the participant can hear "God's voice" and be open to new "truth" from the "Internal Teacher, Who will direct all subsequent learning as He sees fit" (Concordance, p. 887-889 and Preface, p. ix-x). The Course is filled with vacuous chants that must be rehearsed over and over. And once the brain has been emptied, it can thus be filled with heretical mantras such as "My salvation comes from me" or "My holiness is my salvation" (Workbook for Students, pp. 119 & 60).

A stunning example of shutting down the brain in preparation for receiving new teachings can be found on page 52 of the Text, where the student is first told to "Be still and know that I am God" before accepting the new theology "The journey to the cross should be the last 'useless journey.'"

Warren Smith recorded his experiences with these very verses from the Course in his book Reinventing Jesus Christ:

In our New Age meditations we would often meditate on and contemplate certain passages of Scripture. At an Edgar Cayce conference I once attended, we began each day by meditating on Psalm 46:10—“Be still, and know that I am God.” Looking back on that experience now, I realize why that particular verse of Psalm 46 was used by so many New Age groups for contemplation. The spirit world was only too willing to take something God was saying about Himself and translate it into something that the New Age was saying about man. It was very clever.

We were being “still” and we were quoting Scripture, but we were continually affirming that we were God by emphasizing the “I” and repeating the phrase “I am God” over and over again. We were “going within” to the “God within”—“Be still” and know that “I” am God. In our unguarded state of “being still” we were not being taught that God was God. We were being taught that we were God.

The “Jesus” of A Course in Miracles also used Psalm 46:10 to teach this New Age concept. We were to “be still” and to “know” that we were “God.” This false Jesus actually used the “Be still” verse to preface his false teaching that “the journey to the cross should be the last ‘useless journey.’” Our New Age journey was around the cross not through the cross. We were being taught by A Course in Miracles and our other New Age teachings that if we were “being still,” and if we “knew” that we were God, then we didn’t need the cross and we didn’t need Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We could save ourselves by “being still” and “awakening” to the inner “self-realization” that we were God. A Course in Miracles lesson number 70 is “My salvation comes from me.” (Chapter 5 Update, subsection "Be Still")

Another example of emptying the brain in the Course is a lesson entitled "My thoughts do not mean anything" where the student is put through a "correction process" after "repeating an earlier statement that your mind is blank." This is called a "prerequisite for vision."

Close your eyes for these exercises, and introduce them by repeating the idea for today quite slowly to yourself. Then add:

This Idea will help to release me from all that I now believe. (Workbook, p. 16-17)

In the end, the Course pupil will readily believe that "Christ takes many forms with different names" (Manual for Teachers, p. 88) and agree that we are all "co-creators" (there are 13 references for this). In fact, in example after example, there is a startling doctrinal similarity between the messages found in a Course in Miracles and the new theologies of the Emergent/Emerging church movement and New Apostolic Reformation (Latter Rain).

Furthermore, the evangelical world has largely borrowed these same same psycho-spiritual techniques of rethinking, with the same result that many are now embracing new doctrines. Spiritual formation, meditation and contemplation, and the widespread use of structured curricula using a stage-by-stage progression in acquiring new theologies -- all of this works in the same way as the Course in Miracles to cause people to "rethink."

It is no wonder that Robert Schuller can sponsor a Rethink Conference at his Crystal Cathedral and invite big names from the evangelical world to attend. Just what is intended by this "rethink" agenda? Are evangelicals supposed to "rethink" traditional Christianity? There can be no doubt. And when ex-New Agers like Warren Smith recognize the same patterns, processes and personnel, then there should especially be widespread concern.

In fact, Smith details Robert Schuller's connections to A Course in Miracles in Chapter 9 of his book Deceived on Purpose, in which he began by stating that in 1985 "members of Schuller's staff were facilitating Course in Miracles groups at the Crystal Cathedral" (p. 94). The rest of the chapter is a fascinating firsthand account of Schuller's two decades of flirtations with the Course.

The promo for the Rethink Conference states that "Dr. Robert Schuller was one of the original 'out-of-the box' thinkers when it comes to church." The question comes to mind - just how far outside of the box will this rethinking go? If the Course in Miracles is any indication, thinking out-of-the-box means thinking outside of the Bible.

The Truth:

"Forsake the foolish, and live; and go in the way of understanding." (Proverbs 9:6)