17 June 2010

Walking the Labyrinth

Have you ever heard of "walking the labyrinth?" If you study the New Age and mystic influences that are infiltrating the churches, you'll find a lot of material on labyrinths, but to me it still seemed far-fetched and, well, bizarre! What Bible-believing Christian would desire to walk through some sort of a maze, inducing altered states of consciousness and buying into the lie that all paths lead to God? As is the case with all false teachings, though, this too has deceived the Christian churches. If your church is building a labyrinth, RUN as far away from that church and its leaders as you possibly can. They are dealing heavily in the doctrines of demons.

So what is a labyrinth and what is it supposed to do? This article from Let us Reason Ministries offers a thorough history of the exceedingly pagan roots of the labyrinth (bold emphasis mine).
A labyrinth is unicursal - this means there is one open, unobstructed path the walker follows into the center and back out again. A labyrinth has only one path leading to the center and back out again with no dead-ends. There are three basic designs being used--the seven circuit, eleven circuit, and twelve circuit; the seven circuit is the most common design found today. It is described as you roam back and forth, turning 180 degrees each time you enter a different circuit. As you change your direction your awareness changes from right brain to left brain. They are right brain activity enhancers. So the claim is that the labyrinth can induce different states of consciousness. Others say It also helps balance the charkas, spiritual energy centers described in Hinduism. One would think from statements like these it’s about as close to God as one can get. Lauren Artress writes “The path that guides us deeply into the psychological and spiritual center is the same path that takes us back out again into the manifest physical world in this way it is interpreted as a tool for personal, psychological and spiritual transformation. Archetypes that help us group the experience of unity and wholeness. The labyrinth is an archetype of wholeness that helps us rediscover the depths of our souls.”
They are found in many sizes and shapes, and made from just about any natural material. They are built in a permanent fashion from stones, cut into turf, formed by mounds of earth, or imbedded designs in the floor of buildings.

What are Labyrinths used for? The explanations come from those using it. The Rev. Sarah Bentley of New Life Institute, a center for counseling, education and spiritual growth related to the Austin-area United Methodist churches, said she introduces labyrinths to people as a form of meditation. They are training the participant in a walking meditation.
Meditation is the process of quieting the mind, various methods can be used to bring a consciousness change so that you still your mind, you become uncontrolled conscious. Meditation is a spiritual practice of many eastern religions. We are told that by clearing a space within the mind, and allowing yourself to experience whatever emotions or thoughts surface during your walk you come out with a labyrinth experience. Your questions can be answered. People while they walk ask questions such as when, what or where about their life and find it is answered. Many others tesify when you get to the center you find- Self, answers, illumination, God, Goddess, just about anything. As they walk, meditate and pray healing can occur.

You must read the rest of the article to learn more of the dangers of the labyrinth. But let me leave this last section with you (again, bold emphasis mine):
What does the God of the Bible have to say?
Can one seek or come to know God by a Labyrinth walk? It may be the latest fashion in spirituality touted as a spiritual tool of meditation and prayer but is it for a Christian? We are told in Colossians 2: 8: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Some are trying to justify this as a Christian tradition. In fact it couldn’t be, not just because it is not found in the Bible, but because it goes against everything the Bible and Christianity teaches for one to practice true spirituality. Walking through the Labyrinth is not a rediscovery of a lost form of Christian spirituality but pagan spirituality. Though it may be reformed and repackaged to our modern times, we can be assured it has nothing to do with Jesus who gave man the true spiritual way of life.
I don’t think one can Christianize this practice, nor justify its use. Especially with what we have already discovered how it is being used. Is it pleasing to God that we walk labyrinths when He has told us not to take up pagan practices? Divine feminine, earth energies have nothing to do with Jesus Christ and the truth He has delivered.
There are already a number of Christians who are practicing the various types of contemplative prayer promoted by Richard Foster, Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating, and others. A good portion is being promoted through the Catholic contemplative prayer movement. Many of these same people are open to or already doing labyrinth walks as a meditative practice.
Walking meditation and stopping to quiet oneself is not  promoting prayer. Not all that is claimed to be spiritual, is good or from God. We are told as Christians to test the Spirits. Do we now need experiential prayer elements? Did Jesus look for a Labyrinth to teach people to pray? What happened to going into our rooms to pray quietly (Matthew 6:6)?
Inclusiveness is the goal of the New age movement, and they have their light bearers influencing churches that are not discerning by the Word of God. With an open-minded approach, certain Christian church’s can certainly embrace foreign religious practices to their own ruin.
Artress does not withhold her rejection of the straight and narrow way found within Christianity. She explains the labyrinth is more forgiving and leads its followers forward in a flawless path. God’s word states you cannot walk the wide road and claim to follow Christ who says HIS way is the narrow road and has nothing to do with a Labyrinth. In Matthew 7:13 Jesus tells us the only way to practice a spiritual life is to enter into life through the narrow gate because the wide and easy road leads to destruction. This does not mean entering a labyrinth to walk its path.

In 2 Timothy 3: 16 we are told: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” It is God’s Word that we are trained to know and follow for a true spiritual transformation. It is objective, we are not to seek subjective experiences using other religious methods. The New age teaches experience for self- transformation and discovering the god within is not from the same source. The very reason people end up using labyrinths and other such methods to find their spirituality is because they are not holding and promoting the word of God which is all one needs to be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. Though it is currently fashionable for “Christians” to participate in walking Labyrinths along with other religions, it is a clear sign the Word of God is not being upheld but is being replaced with subjective feelings, through New Age spirituality. Despite testimonials from those who do not know the word of God, it is essentially using a pagan religious practice.
This cannot have any spiritual benefit for a Christian, but one can possibly have a relaxing time as they enjoy the walk, but then, getting away into the outdoors into a new environment with the least amount of concentration will relieve you of your stress as well.
There is no basis for those who practice Biblical Christianity to embrace the labyrinth as an acceptable tool for meditation and prayer? It is inherently New Age, let them have it.
Read the article in its entirety here.

A wonderful resource is the website of Lighthouse Trails Research. Follow this link to reach a listing of their articles regarding the labyrinth.

Dear Christian, I cannot stress enough how important it is that you are praying for discernment. Today's churches, especially the large, popular, "relevant" churches are promoting these practices and, forgive me if I sound alarmist, but these practices are evil. The evil one loves nothing more than to deceive mankind in the name of Christ. Pray on your armor each day and never be ashamed or afraid to stand firm for the Truth of Jesus Christ.
"Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm." Ephesians 6:13

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