This is a Short How-to Manual for Christians Attempting to Deprogram Disciples of Prem Rawat's.
How to approach people under the influence of antitheistic "religions" —
To Demystify Mystics
One of the most difficult problems which the growth of Eastern mystic groups in the West brings to the Christian Church is the need to communicate the Gospel to people who have imbibed aally antitheistic philosophy. Missionaries to India have been well acqainted with the frustrations of this for years. Now, however, young, untrained Christians are having to e the same communication hang- Only a brief, personal attempt be made to sketch what may prove to be helpful lines of approach.
Things not to do: Do not attend Divine Light Mission and similar meetings on your own. It is unlikely that attendance at satsang meetings or lectures will be very constructive. But if you do feel there ought be a Christian presence, go in a group of two or three. If possible, get some friends to pray for you while you are there. These visits /e proved times of great spiritual conflict and depression for Christians in the past. I would not recommend that young Christians been along.
Do not swap spiritual experiences, often Christian witness to such groups fails because it uses this approach:
Jesus' coming into your heart is a much better experience than your tru's knowledge."
Taste Guru's knowledge and then
The author, until recently, was a member with Inter-Varsity Fellowship in England. This material is taken from God and the Gurus, Ityngfcf 1975 by Inter-Varsity Press, London. Used by permission, InterVarsity Press, Downerslove, III.
R. D. CLEMENTS
By swapping experiences, Christians are playing into the hands of a mystical, experience-centered theology. Nor should you tryto undermine the genuineness of the devotee's experience. You are unlikely to succeed because it probably is genuine.
you can judge."
"I don't need to, I've got Jesus."
"OK, then, when you want Guru'sknowledge, you come."
It is important to distinguish tes-timony (my experience of Christ)from evangelism (proclamation ofthe historic revelation of God in Je-sus Christ) . By swapping experi-ences, Christians are playing intothe hands of a mystical, experience-centered theology. Nor should youtry to undermine the genuineness ofthe devotee's experience. You areunlikely to succeed because it prob-ably is genuine.
Do not argue belligerently. Don'tcall the Guru anti-Christ, even ifyou suspect he is. Remember Paul'sinjunction that our speech is alwaysto be "gracious, seasoned with salt"(Col. 4:5-6) .
Do not quote isolated Biblicaltexts. Most mystical groups can dothe same, and it is often very difficult to sidestep their sophistry.
For example, suppose you quote Acts 4:12, "There is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
"Yes!" replies the DLM devotee. "The Guru Maharaj Ji revealed thatname to me."
Or, "Taste and see that the Lordis good."
"Why don't you take Guru at his word and do just that? The proofof the pudding is in the eating."
Do not get impatient. When devotees do not reason carefully, orwhen they seem to evade your point, remember that, as they see it, truth cannot be arrived at by intellectual pursuit, but only by experience. They get easily bored, therefore, with rational argument and may even find rational argument difficult. Verbal reasoning, however, is the only sort of direct communication we have and so we must be patient.
Some possible positive approaches: Treat devotees as human beings made in the image of God, not as "specimens" of the DLM or Transcendental Meditation or whatever. Let them explain their views without constantly interrupting them, and do your best to understand what they think. Don't assume that they will have a totally monisticv iew. Frequently Western converts to mysticism retain from their previous cultural background some feeling of God as personal and the need for prayer.
Many mysticism devotees have found a degree of social acceptance and love in their communes and ashrams which they lacked before. As Christians, we shall often need to show a more authentic spirit of love and warmth if our message is to be considered at all. Be more concerned, therefore, about the person than about winning the argument.
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A useful conversation can sometimes begin … with the question, "Why did Jesus insist that it was necessary for Him to die?" … A devotee will usually express ignorance on this point, and the door is opened to a careful explanation of the unique atoning work which Christ came to do.
If possible, talk to devotees on their own, rather than in a group.
Keep the historical Christ central to your own witness. No mystic group has any clear idea of the meaning of the cross. Though they all accept Jesus as a genuine avatar ("god" incarnate), the story of His cross and resurrection are irrelevant to them, since an avatar comes to teach and to reveal "god" consciousness.
A useful conversation can sometimes begin, therefore, with the question, "Why did Jesus insist that it was necessary for Him to die?" It is very easy to prove from the Gospels that this was Jesus' conviction.(See, for example, Matthew 16:21,17:22-23; Luke 22:37, 24:44-47.) Adevotee will usually express igno-rance on this point, and the door isopened to a careful explanation ofthe unique atoning work whichChrist came to do.
A similar approach can be made from the importance given in th eBible to the resurrection. For example, you might raise questions such as these:
"If Jesus came only to give the same experience of light as your Guru, why were the disciples so shocked when He died? Why was it so important to them that He physically rose from the dead? After all, Buddha is dead, Muhammad is dead, Krishna (as an incarnation) is dead physically, Lord Caitanya is dead and one day your Guru will die. You may then be sad. But there is no reason for him to rise again because you have his light now. So why was the resurrection so important to the disciples of Jesus?"
Or again, "If Paul attained 'god-consciousness' when he saw the light on the Damascus road, why was it so important to him later that Jesus had physically risen from the dead?"(1 Cor. 15:17).
A discussion of these points will inevitably lead to the problem of sin, and here it is important to make clear that sin and guilt are objective realities in the Bible requiring objective cleansing (in atonement).
For a mystic, sin and guilt are subjective functions of one's own psyche - just the illusions of ignorance and mind. We may need to awaken the conscience of our friend by speaking of the objective reality of judgment of which Jesus spoke. (See, for instance, Matthew 13:40-43, 24:29-51; Luke 16:19-31.)
Question the validity of the devotee's interpretation of his experience. You are unlikely to impugn the devotee's confidence that he has had the most marvelous, mind-bending experience of his life. But you may make him ask on what basis he identifies what he has experienced with "god." If persistently challenged along this line, some devotees will agree that they were taught verbally the interpretation they place on their experience and that it is not self-evident from the experience itself that they are touching "god." We may ask, for example:
"How does feeling peace and love prove it's true?" or "How do youknow there isn't a bigger God beyond the one you've touched through the Guru?" Remember Paul's words at Athens: "What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you" (Acts 17:23)
… it is important to make clear that sin and guilt are objective realities in the Bible requiring objective cleansing (in atonement). For a mystic, sin and guilt are subjective functions of one's psyche - just the illusions of ignorance and mind. We may need to awaken the conscience of our friend by speaking of the objective reality of judgment of which Jesus spoke.
Challenge them by showing that they are running away from the real world and its problems to mystical experience. The psychological motive anyone has for belief he holds cannot logically held to discredit the belief its If But it may force this person to look for deeper, objective reasons for confidence beyond the subjective satisfaction his beliefs give him presonally.
Quite a few DLM and Krishna consciousness followers are drop-outs who were previously mixed up in drugs. It is fair to ask what made them sure they won't eventually be bored with the Guru's kicks, careful, however! Some of the mystic devotees are rather inadequate people (this is generally true of TM), so gentleness of manner is important here if we are not to hor alienate them.
Warn of the danger of spirit deception. Ask if they have observed the fixed ecstatic expressions of those who have been meditating a lcng while. Do they find it worrisome? Why does it happen?
Pointing to verses like Matthew 7:15-20 may be useful. But the reply is frequently, "Yes I've tried the fruits of the Guru and they ar esweet!" Some discussion of the future of the fruits of spirituality can be required then, and the nor| Wf answer of the Bible (that is, mo character, John 15; Galatians 5:S may not prove very clear-cut.
Similarly Matthew 24:23-27 may be useful. But a devotee who is familiar with the Guru's techniques of exegesis will say, "Yes, from the East to the West — just as Guru Maharaj Ji has come!" A comparison of Galatians 1:6-9 and I Corinthians 1-7, pointing out that Paul's Gospel was historical and anything else "accursed," may prove more to point if there is time for careful Bible study with the devotee.
I have found, however, that merely warning of the reality of the evil and the danger of playing with spiritual phenomena, when one has no idea of how to discriminate between good and evil, has shaken some young devotees in their confidence. We have a responsibily to point out that no error is harmless and that, if real spirit forces are being invoked in these mystic practices, then there is danger for all concerned.