Dick Eastman is president of Every Home for Christ (formerly World Literature Crusade), headquartered in Chatsworth, California, and is originator of the Change the World School of Prayer. Eastman's previous books include No Easy Road (over 600,000 copies in print) and A Celebration of Praise. He has also co-authored another prayer book, In Jesus Name , with hyper-charismatic Jack Hayford. The Hour That Changes The World comes highly recommended by many pastors and church leaders. (For example, the Master's Seminary and Grace Community Church [John MacArthur, president and pastor, respectively] use the book in both the school and the church!) Yet we can find little to recommend it. The book is loaded with New Age references, is heavy in mysticism, is ecumenical in its approach, is based upon an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12-step/recovery model, and contains various other teachings contrary to Scripture. Below are listed some of the quotes and comments that detail these concerns:
(A) Ecumenism of Prayer: J.C. Ryle extols the virtue of prayer warriors implying that they have no doctrinal bounds (pp. 13-14). Consider some of the prayer experts cited by Eastman: Bishop Fulton J. Sheen (Catholic/Bibliography only); Brother Lawrence (Catholic/Chas. 1, 10); Rex Humbard (Hyper-charismatic/Intro.); Jack Hayford (Hyper-charismatic/Bibliography only); Charles Finney (Intro, Conclusion); David Hubbard (Neo-evangelical pres. of Fuller Sem./Intro., Chas. 3,11); E.W. Kenyon (Word-Faith movement/Cha. 4); Rosalind Rinker (New Ager/Chas. 2,11); and Norman Grubb (Mystic/Bibliography only).
Some or all of these men were unbelievers. (Finney, for example, taught that Christ's death atoned for no sin, it was just a "moral example.") The sacrifice and prayers of such are an abomination to the Lord [Prov 15:8; 28:9]. How do we bring praise to the glory of God by endorsing, emulating, or joining with such men?
(B) 12-Step Recovery Program: This book is based on the currently popular twelve-step programs, that were "Christianized" from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) programs. Some, however, would say that Eastman is merely employing a method for systematizing prayer (Eastman breaks down the daily hour of prayer into twelve, five minute periods -- Praise; Waiting; Confession; Scripture Praying; Watching; Intercession; Petition; Thanksgiving; Singing; Meditation; Listening; Praise) and that this has nothing to do with the AA model. Then why twelve steps; why not ten, thirteen, or seven (the perfect number of God)? Eastman certainly hasn't come up with this system from Scripture.
At best, the twelve steps reflect the general acceptance by the public of twelve step successes. At worst, this is an intentional agreement with 12-step programs and what they stand for. We tend to think the latter, as witnessed by the statement on the book's back cover ("... Eastman responds with a twelve-step prayer program") and his references on pp. 159-160 to AA's unknown god, "the Higher Power" ["... pray that lost souls will search for the meaning of life. Claim that each will inwardly ask, 'What is my purpose for living ?' This, too, will cause those for whom we intercede to contemplate the possibility of a Higher Power " and "This, too, will cause them to look for a Power beyond themselves."]
(C) Social Action Gospel: Eastman apparently believes that the only way to get a nation's peoples to believe the gospel (Eastman is clearly Arminian in his theology) is to have their leaders bring some disaster upon them so that the people will no longer trust the leaders; instead Eastman thinks this trust will default to the God of the Bible. Incredibly, instead of praying that unbelieving peoples will hear the gospel and believe, Eastman wants us to pray that they will be harmed: "Pray that political leaders, such as the leaders of a particular Chinese province, will do certain things that will cause distrust throughout their province. When the people for whom we pray begin feeling this deep distrust they will wonder whom they can trust. Soon they will look for someone to trust beyond themselves. Eventually this search will direct their thinking heavenward!" (p. 159). [Eastman makes the statement that "Prayer alone will change the world" (p. 150). What happened to the Great Commission? What happened to Romans 10:14-15? Where in the Bible is such a statement made?]
(D) New Age/Spirit Guide Influence/Journaling: The quoting of Rosalind Rinker as a prayer authority who has direct communication with God (p. 128), the free use of the language of the New Age (prayer "laboratory," "inner self," and Demaray's "the law of the inner voice," where it is guaranteed that "we will hear His voice," p.130), and the use of the story of Madame Guyon and her counselor, a Franciscan priest, (p. 31), all point to a view of prayer that is much more "New Age" in its philosophy than it is Biblical. (Consider the term "laboratory." This is a term commonly used by those in Silva Mind Control who teach how to reach out for/visualize a "spirit guide.")
Also disturbing is Eastman's use of "journaling," which has become quite popular among professing Christians as a new genre of books emphasizes the "inner life" and presents various methodologies for "hearing from God." This is not to say that meditating on the Word of God and seeking closer communication with Him and deeper insights into His will ought not to be an important part of every Christian's life, but this same technique is used by occultists to make contact with the spirit world, and by psychologists to contact deep levels of the psyche, and thereby, tap into the "ancient wisdom" allegedly contained in the "collective unconscious." [Eastman's encouragement of journal- keeping is strikingly similar to that of Ira Progoff, one of the foremost leaders in the application of Carl Jung's depth psychology, known as Process Meditation. Progoff believes that through journaling "mankind has to renew its sacred Scriptures (including the Bible), which are now outdated." Progoff believes that extensive workshops, retreats, and seminars are necessary to get in touch with the "underground streams of images and recollections within each of us."]:
(1) "During the listening aspect of prayer you may wish to keep a note tablet handy to record these impressions concerning your day. If a housewife asks God to help her plan the day's activities, she should be ready to jot down any divine promptings ... Always remember, listening serves a practical function. You are not merely listening for divine 'niceties' ... The value of having paper and pencil is that it displays faith. It says to God, 'I believe you will truly speak to me, and I have come prepared to record your instructions" [!!!] (p. 133).
(2) Few "Christian" books on journaling warn of the dangers of mistaking one's imagination for communication with God, and of spending more time upon one's own inward thoughts than upon God's Word. Eastman gives a haphazard warning that makes us think that he actually does understand the spiritual dangers of journaling: "There are dangers to be faced when we enter these deeper aspects of prayer [because they are occultic in nature!!]. Much of prayer is an experiment [i.e., experientially based, not Scripturally based] in spiritual growth that involves both failure and success" (p. 133).
(E) Mysticism: According to Augustus Strong in his Systematic Theology (pp. 31-32), there are two classes of mysticism; true and false. Strong classifies true mysticism as "an illumination of the minds of all believers by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit, however, makes no new revelation of truth, but uses for His instrument the truth already revealed by Christ in nature and in the Scriptures. The illuminating work of the Spirit is therefore an opening of men's minds to understand Christ's previous revelations." False mysticism is defined as "... holding to the attainment of religious knowledge by direct communication from God, and by passive absorption of the human activities into the divine. It either loses sight of (a) the outwart organs of revelation, nature and the Scriptures; (b) the activity of the human powers in the reception of all religious knowledge; (c) the personality of man, and by acquaintance, the personality of God." Eastman's book is thick with mysticism of the false kind:
(1) How about the image of Christ God gave Leonardo da Vinci (more than likely an unbeliever) after he painted out his enemy, pictured as Judas Iscariot, in the Last Supper. God supposedly showed da Vinci a vision of Christ, which da Vinci then painted. ("Then, in a flash, Leonardo da Vinci saw the picture of Christ clearly" [p. 48].) Eastman wants us to believe that when one looks at the Last Supper by da Vinci, one is seeing an actual picture of Jesus Christ (cf. Exo. 20:4)!
(2) The "Brother Lawrence" cited by Eastman is otherwise known as Lawrence of the Resurrection. Brother Lawrence was a 16th century French Catholic mystic. He did not get the material for his writings from the Word of God, but from within his inner self (p. 121). [Mysticism is currently part of a world-wide effort by a sect of Catholics to promote ecumenism.]
(3) Eastman admonishes us to ask the Holy Spirit to show us what we should claim in prayer and how we should claim it. At best, this is asking for direct communication from God, and therefore, must be classified as an aspect of false mysticism. At worst, this is a "name-it-and-claim-it" scheme.
(4) Eastman relates Hallesby's story of Bolette Hinderli (pp. 71-72). God supposedly gave Bolette a vision of a prisoner to pray for -- "the young girl experienced an inner vision of a man in a prison cell. She observed his face as plainly as the print on this page." Accompanying the vision was an inner voice ..." that urged Bolette to pray that the prisoner would not only be converted, but someday preach the gospel himself. She prayed, he was converted, some years later she met him, recognized him from the vision, and rejoiced! This is false mysticism!! [God has determined that we derive all of our knowledge of Him, not through direct encounters, but through the written Word, the Bible, and in the Person and work of His incarnate Son.]
- Other teachings in the book that are contrary to the Scriptures:
(a) Eastman relates that "much of prayer is an experiment in spiritual growth." "Experiment" is from the same root word as experience. Eastman appears to be saying that prayer is experiential and that the successful practice of prayer is only determined by trial and error (p. 133). This is not found in the Bible.
(b) Eastman quotes Bridgid Herman (evidently, a great authoritative teacher on prayer): "One hour of such listening (to God) may give us a deeper insight into the mysteries of human nature, and a surer instinct for Divine values, than a year's hard study or external intercourse with men" (p. 133). She is saying that by listening for the voice of God in our prayers, we can develop a keener instinct for Divine values than through Bible study!
(c) In Ephesians 1:3, God has revealed to us that we have been given all spiritual blessings. Yet, Eastman informs us to take an inventory of the spiritual blessings we have been given recently (p. 98).
(d) Eastman is clearly Arminian in his theology; the best evidence of this comes from p. 158: "Of course, we do know that every person has a will to choose or reject the message of Christ's love. Therefore, we cannot ask God to force unbelievers ... to believe on Him."
(e) Eastman urges frequent confession, even to the extent of adding up all of our sins for the previous 24 hours. Confession apparently is also just good catharsis (two psychologists "who have carefully studied the psychological impact of prayer" tell us it is good for us). And besides, we will probably not be able to function properly with unconfessed sin in our lives. (Here he cites da Vinci painting the Last Supper and receiving his "vision" after a good, thorough bout of confession) [pp. 41-48].
(f) Eastman urges us to "thank God 'in advance' for blessings you expect Him to bestow on you in the future" (p. 101). Keeping in mind some of the "experts" cited by Eastman, are we not getting close to a "name-it-and-claim-it" mentality?