Biblical or Occultic?

-  "Journal-keeping" is becoming popular among 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, and even writing down for future reference insights or guidance that one believes to be derived from this would be very helpful. However, 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."

-  Ira Progoff is one of the foremost leaders in this particular 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believes that through journaling "mankind has to renew its sacred Scriptures (including the Bible), which are now outdated."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."

-  "Christian" books on journaling, however, seldom 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. Whether through a "proper" use of journaling or journal-keeping, or other forms of meditation, one's focus must always be upon the Scriptures and must never deviate from that Guide.

-  Two well-known authors/teachers that incorporate journaling in their books/models are Gordon MacDonald (Ordering Your Private World), and Dick Eastman (The Hour That Changes The World):

(a) MacDonald -- While his description of journaling in Ordering Your Private World is strikingly similar to that taught by Progoff, MacDonald fails to warn his readers of the dangers of mistaking one's imagination for communication with God, one's tendency toward mistaking false mysticism for spiritual enlightenment, and of spending more time upon one's own inward thoughts than upon God's Word: (All emphases added.)

(1) "When I studied some of the mystic and contemplative Christians, I found that one practical way to learn to listen to God speak in the garden of my private world was to keep a journal. With a pencil in hand ready to write, I found that there was an expectancy, a readiness to hear anything God might wish to whisper through my reading and reflection" (p. 130).

(2) "I found myself sharing in the journal more and more of the thoughts that flooded my inner spirit" (p 131).

(3) "I began to realize that the journal was helping me come to grips with an enormous part of my inner person that I had never been fully honest about ... I became aware ... that God's Holy Spirit was directing many of the thoughts and insights as I wrote. On paper, the Lord and I were carrying on a personal communion ... this began to happen only when the journal was employed" (p 131).

(4) "twenty years of journal keeping [as of 1984] ... Hardly a morning passes that I do not open the journal and record the things I hear God saying through my reading, meditation, and daily experience. When the journal opens, so does the ear of my heart. If God is going to speak, I am ready to listen" (p 132).

(5) "a beautiful example of a man listening to God in his private world through the use of a journal ... as he perceived the divine whisper, he transformed into print the still, small voice of his Lord" (p. 133).

(6) "All of this is part of listening to God. As I write, I am aware that what I am writing may actually be what God wants to tell me. I dare presume that His Spirit is often operative in the things I am choosing to think about and record" (p. 134).

(7) "the main value of a journal is as a tool for listening to the quiet Voice that comes out of the garden of the private world. Journal keeping serves as a wonderful tool for withdrawing and communing with the Father. When I write, it is as if I am in direct conversation with Him. And there is that sense that in the words that you are led to write, God's Spirit is mysteriously active, and communion at the deepest level is happening" (p. 136).

(b) Eastman -- In The Hour That Changes The World, Dick Eastman falls into the same mystical, experiential, "direct communication with God" techniques as does Gordon MacDonald: (All emphases added.)

(1) Eastman quotes F.W. Faber: "Whenever the sounds of the world die out in the soul, then we hear the whisperings of God. He is always whispering to us, only we don't always hear because of the noise, hurry and distractions which life causes as it rushes on" (p. 132).

(2) "Often His whisperings come in the form of a quiet impression on the heart ... On other occasions there is no inner voice to guide us" (p. 132).

(3) "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 (p. 133).

(4) "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).

(5) "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 ... As Bridgid Herman so accurately states, 'One hour of such listening may give us a deeper insight into the mysteries of human nature, a surer instinct for Divine values, than a year's hard study or external intercourse with men'" (p. 133).

* The first three paragraphs have been excerpted in part from Beyond Seduction: A Return To Biblical Christianity, p. 237.

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 8/92