It was Alice Bailey (the famous occult prophetess who coined the term New
Age) who made this startling assertion:
"It is, of course, easy to find many passages which link the way of the
Christian Knower with that of his brother in the East. They bear witness
to the same efficacy of method."1
What did she mean by the term "Christian Knower"? The answer is
unmistakable! In the first chapter, we saw how occultism is awakening
the mystical faculties to see God in everything. In Hinduism, this is
called reaching samadhi or enlightenment. It is the final objective of
yoga meditation: God in everything-a force or power flowing through all
William Johnston believes such an experience exists within the context of
Christianity. He explains:
"What I can safely say, however, is that there is a Christian
that has always occupied an honored place in the
spirituality of the West. This, I believe, is the thing that
is nearest to Zen. It is this that I have called Christian
The famous psychologist
Carl Jung predicted this system would be the yoga of the west.3
Christian Zen? Christian yoga? These seem to be oxymorons, like military
pacifism or alcoholic sobriety. Christians, conservative ones at least,
have always viewed these concepts as heretical and anti-biblical. The
word most commonly used for it is pantheism-all is God. But when one
looks at the Christian Zen movement one discovers a similar term, which
for all practical purposes, means the same thing. This term is called
panentheism -- God is in all things.
A highly respected source,
The Evangelical Dictionary of Theology,
defines panentheism as a worldview that combines "the strengths of classic
theism with the strengths of classic pantheism."4 With panentheism you still
have a personal God (theism) coupled with God's pervasive presence in all
creation (pantheism). In other words, with panentheism God is both a
personality and an all encompassing substance as opposed to God being an
impersonal substance that incorporates all of creation as found in
The credibility of A Time of Departing rests on whether or not panentheism has a legitimate place in orthodox Christianity. This is a vital
question because panentheism is the foundational worldview among those who
engage in mystical prayer. Ken Kaisch, a Episcopal priest and a teacher of
mystical prayer, made this very clear in his book, Finding God,
where he noted:
"Meditation is a
process through which we quiet the mind and the emotions and
enter directly into the experience of the Divine. . . .
there is a deep connection between us . . . God is in each
Here lies the core of panentheism: God is in everything and everything is
in God. The only difference between pantheism and panentheism is how God is
This position of the panentheist is challenging to understand: Your outer
personality is not God, but God is still in you as your true identity. This
explains why mystics say, all is one. At the mystical level, they experience
this God-force that seems to flow through everything and everybody. All
creation has God in it as a living, vital presence. It is just hidden.
The theological implications of this worldview put it at direct odds with
biblical Christianity for obvious reasons. Only one true God exists, and His
identity is not in everyone. The fullness of God's identity, in bodily form,
rests in Jesus Christ and Him only!
Scripture clearly teaches the only deity in man is Jesus Christ who
dwells in the heart of the believer. Further, Jesus made it clear not
everyone will be born again-having God's Spirit (John 3). Yet the
panentheist perceives that all people and everything have the identity of
God within them.
William Johnston again emphasizes, "For God is the core of my being and
the core of all beings."6 This fundamentally eliminates faith in the Gospel
as the avenue to reconciliation with God, because God is already there. It
effectively leaves out the finished work of Christ as the binding agent and
is contrary to the following verses:
"For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;
but unto us which are saved it is the power of God." (I Corinthians 1:18)
"Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ,
hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both
the Father and the Son." (II John 1:9)
The Bible does reveal, though, that God upholds all things by His
powerful word, but He does not do this by being the substance of all things.
The word of God says, "For in him [Christ] we live, and move, and have our
being." (Acts 17:28). But this speaks of Him as separate from us yet
remaining present with us. The belief that God indwells everything is
heresy. God will not, and cannot share His personal essence with anyone or
anything outside of the Trinity. Even Christians are only partakers of the
Divine Nature and not possessors of the Divine Nature. II Peter 1:3-4 says:
"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that
pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath
called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises:
that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped
the corruption that is in the world through lust."
Here the apostle Peter is
writing to Christians, not to the world. He
acknowledges the participation of the believer in conjunction with the work
of the Holy Spirit. The word partaker is taken from the Greek word koinonos,
which means a sharer (associate), companion, or fellowship partner. In other
words, the Christian shares in the promises of the purifying work of the
Holy Spirit, being called out and set apart from the corruption of an evil
world. Moreover, a partaker or participant is one who has been born again
through faith. A possessor, on the other hand, is one who is already in
possession of something. In the case of the panentheist and pantheist, the
possession they are claiming is God. They do not believe a fundamental
change is needed, just an awareness of what is already there.
This conclusion becomes quite obvious when we examine such passages as
Isaiah 42:8: "I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give
to another." Creation can reflect God's glory (Isaiah 6:3), but it can never
possess God's glory. For that to happen would mean God was indeed giving His
glory to another.
This concept is made crystal clear in author William Shannon's book,
Silence on Fire. Shannon, a Roman Catholic priest, relates the account of a
theological discussion he once had with an atheist groom for whom he was
performing a wedding ceremony. He told the skeptical young man:
"You will never find
God by looking outside yourself. You will only find God
within. It will only be when you have come to
experience God in your own heart and let God into the
corridors of your heart (or rather found God there) that you
will be able to 'know' that there is indeed a God and that
you are not separate from God.7
This advice is no different from what any New Age teacher would impart to
someone who held an atheistic point of view. You want God? Meditate! God is
just waiting for you to open up. Based on Shannon's own mystical beliefs, he
knew this was the right approach. He alluded to this by explaining that the
young man would find enlightenment if he would look in the right place or
use the right method.
Those who support this heresy draw the same conclusion of mystical
panentheism that author Willigis Jager articulated when he said:
"The physical world,
human beings, and everything that is are all forms of the
Ultimate Reality, all expressions of God, all 'one with the
He means not all Christians but all people. This is nothing less than
Hindu samadhi with Christian spray paint. Those in this movement who
are honest have no qualms about acknowledging this-as one
adherent did so aptly when he confessed, "The meditation of
advanced occultists is identical with the prayer of advanced
Time of Departing, 2nd. ed., Ray Yungen, pp. 28-32)
1. Alice Bailey, From Intellect to Intuition (New York, NY: Lucis
Publishing Co., 1987, 13th printing), p. 193.
2. William Johnston, Lord, Teach Us to Pray (New York, NY: Harper Collins
Publishers, 1991), p. 54.
3. Ibid., p. 58.
4. Walter A. Elwel, Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids, MI:
Baker Book House, 1984), p. 818.
5. Ken Kaisch, Finding God: A Handbook of Christian Meditation (New York,
NY: Paulist Press, 1994), p. 283.
6. William Johnson, The Mystical Way (New York, NY: Harper Collins, 1993),
7. William Shannon, Silence on Fire (New York, NY: The Crossroad Publishing
Company, 1991), p. 99.
8. Willigis Jager, Contemplation: A Christian Path (Ligouri, MO: Triumph
Books, 1994), p. 93.
9. Richard Kirby, The Mission