Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Spiritual Direction or Seance?

The following description of the new practice of "spiritual direction" was given in a Christianity Today/Christian Woman Today article from 2004.

"Her palms open heavenward, Helene sets them on the couch by her thighs and then starts with a prayer. On occasion, she rings a brass bell to separate the clamor from the quiet. Sometimes she lights a candle, as if to remind us that the Holy Spirit is with us, interceding on our behalf with words we don't even know how to find.

"For the next two or three hours, Helene listens intently with me for God's voice. I pay her $30 for this priceless gift. We sit in her sunroom, chatting about my everydayness: the job, the migraines, the mother, the husband, the sex, the prayer life, the joys, the mistakes. Sometimes we read Scripture; in it we find people with the same concerns as mine. In it all, I slowly notice God beckoning.

"Helene isn't a mystic or a saint. The title I use for her—spiritual director—isn't helpful, either. As any decent spiritual director is quick to say, the term's a misnomer. Helene doesn't tell me what to do or try to answer questions only God can answer. In her sunroom, we listen for—and sometimes hear—the Holy Ghost."

The article is by Agnieszka Tennant, entitled "Drawing Closer to God: How a spiritual director can help you grow in your faith." She comments,

"I like the way psychotherapist-turned-spiritual director Larry Crabb describes spiritual direction—listening to the Spirit on behalf of another. The director is there merely to accompany you through listening, questions, and prayer, as you notice the movement of God in your life. "

The author, who is quite sold on the positive benefits of this practice, continues:

"Some people don't think of themselves as 'spiritual.' The good news is, Christ wants us to come to him anyway. You present yourself to God and to your director just as you are—even if it means hassled, depressed, stressed out, tired, or angry. . . . A good director will help you find God's 'holy invitations, to use Jeannette Bakke's words, 'whether you are glad or sad, overwhelmed by life or savoring it.'" [all empheses added] [ September/October 2004, Vol. 26, No. 5, Page 14.]

What is Spiritual Direction -- really?

There is a practice in the occult that fits the model of spiritual direction. A medium, sitting for the purpose of obtaining supernormal manifestations or establishing communication with the spirit world. There is special attention to the establishment of a favourable environment, such as eliminating excess noise, stopping conversation, keeping still, holding hands, lighting a candle or otherwise paying attention to lighting, singing, and even the location of the furniture. Occult resources state that having a relaxed natural attitude is most conducive.

These descriptions above are derived from various metaphysical definitions of a seance. A seance requires the use of a mediator (a medium) to facilitate connecting with the spirit world. This practice is expressly forbidden in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 18:10-11). Saul visited the witch of Endor in I Samuel 28 when the Spirit of the Lord departed from him.

The Truth:

Dear believer, if you feel you need a "spiritual director" it is time to run, not walk, back to the Word of God and seek the LORD with all of your heart: "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24)

Christian believers need no human mediator, priest, medium or "spiritual director" to access God on their behalf because of the blood that Jesus Christ shed for us on the cross.

"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Timothy 2:5-6)

"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance." (Hebrews 9:11-15)