Holy or Deceptive Spirits?: Toronto Blessing and New Age Phenomena

Toronto Blessing

The so-called Toronto blessing has offered charismatic revival in the Christian church, beginning in the 1990s and continuing today.  Spearheaded by Carol and John Arnott, and inspired by Randy Clark among others, a ministry evolved at the Toronto airport, which has grown and ignited enthusiasms around the world.

The leaders have promoted intimacy with the God by soaking prayer and healing by laying on of hands. Revival meetings give people space to experience the holy spirit with honesty and self-abandon.

Advocates say that they have experienced life-changing shifts through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that they experienced in Toronto: healings, restored relationships, and a renewed happiness in being alive.  Pastors and priests, who have attended meetings, explain that the revival brought them out of dryness, skepticism, and weariness in the spiritual life.  The holy spirit, available through the Toronto moment, gave them back their motivation and joy in the gospel.

Detractors claim that this revival movement causes hysterical symptoms, such as chaotic bursts of laughter and being “slain in the Spirit” (involving sudden falls to the ground, passing out, and a stiffening of the body). None of these behaviors is genuinely caused by the holy spirit for the holy spirit is a spirit of order and gentleness not havoc and chaos. Churches need to revive sound teaching and doctrine. The Word of God replenishes the heart. The party atmosphere at Toronto — and bold claims of spiritual awakening — add up to a superficial distraction if not to a more significant danger.

Channeling

In the new age movement, similar debates arise about channeling and its benefits. Some claim that to channel entities, such as the Pleiadians (spirits from the pleiades) or wise figures from the beyond, puts them in touch with a source of joy and wisdom beyond the human intelligence. Others claim that such spirits are not trustworthy and cause distractions, difficulties, or even demon-possession to those who channel them.

Analysis

In my opinion, there is nothing to be afraid of in such spiritual experiences. If one is fearful of being demon-possessed or of encountering false and deceptive spirits, then it is advisable to heed one’s fear. Trust is indispensable to the spiritual life. One may stabilize one’s trust by praying for discernment and protection from God or the Holy Spirit. God knows the heart. If one is genuine in a desire for the truth and for the source of Life itself, God will provide divine protection from harmful things and guidance toward helpful opportunities.

If the Toronto blessing is valid and beneficial, its good fruits in one’s life will be lasting. If channeling is wise, then the counsel received from a channel will resonate with authenticity and authority. The opposite is also true. One may experience few benefits from such spiritual sources. If so, they are best left alone.

In the meantime, it is also good to remember that the Holy Spirit can speak with a still and small voice or move in our lives in ordinary ways. Let’s enjoy the Spirit.

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Pakistani Heroes: Muslim/Christian Aitzaz Hassan and Asia Bibi

NOTE: Asia Bibi has been released.

Quite often Christians create strict boundaries around the Christian religion. These boundaries are fences by which we demarcate insiders, separating the “insiders” from the “outsiders.”

A key emphasis of the New Testament, however, is that Christ came to break down barriers between Jews (insiders) and Gentiles (outsiders). The one who preached “blessed are the peacemakers” made peace by melting the glue that keeps the religious fence intact, namely, the fence by which we separate ourselves as insiders from others as outsiders.

The glue that keeps such fences intact is the prince of this world (the evil one) who is enlarged and magnified by fear, hatred, and bigotry.

Aitzaz Hassan

Two Pakistani figures have been the news, internationally, as martyrs and heroes, one a Muslim boy named Aitzaz Hassan and the other a Christian woman named Asia Bibi. (For more on Asia Bibi, see link:  Asia Bibi Article).

Aitzaz Hassan, a fifteen year old boy, thwarted a suicide bomber, who was entering a school in order to detonate a bomb in northern Pakistan, according to the story in the Guardian (click link): Guardian Article

Although the bomb detonated, thus killing him, Aitzaz Hassan’s intervention succeeded to protect a school full of some 2000 students.

Like the parents of the children who died at Sandy Hook, so Aitzaz Hassan’s parents magnified the boy’s generous intentions, celebrating his heroism, rather than nursing grievances or bitterness of their own.

What did this boy die for?

Suicide bombing occurs in this region as a weapon of religious militancy in sectarian warfare between Sunnis and Shi’ites.

The real enemy in the story is neither Shi’ite nor Sunni but the prince of the world or the evil one, who feeds on fear, hatred, and bigotry, the glue that keeps the fence intact, which separates insiders from outsiders.

The militant crusader believes so strongly in this fence, that s/he will kill and self-destruct  (slathering on glue) in order to reinforce it, fortifying the barrier that distinguishes the elect (the insiders) from the reprobate (the outsiders).

The boy Aitzaz Hassan,  himself a Muslim,  stood up for principles of Islam that transcend sectarian rivalries: peace, love, and non-violence. He acted, instinctively, in a generous way that may resonate for Christians as being Christ-like.

From a Christian perspective, the self-sacrificing love exhibited by Aitzaz Hassan imitates that of Jesus.

As Jesus said: “No greater love has this than to give one’s life for one’s friends.” The friends of Jesus are those who follow God’s commandment, the greatest of which is love. Similarly, Aitzaz Hassan died on behalf of  love for his friends. Love is save thousands from the bomb of murder and sectarian rivalries.

Asia Bibi

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman, is a different kind of martyr, a woman and mother, now in prison on allegations of blasphemy.  Her case has been discussed and publicized for many years.

The Supreme court of Pakistan will be handing down a verdict any day, now. Sadly, the danger of mob violence against Asia Bibi is real even should she go free.

Asia Bibi had engaged in dialogue with some Muslim women, her friends, in a Pakistani town, close to where she lives. In the  course of conversation, she spoke about her own religious beliefs.  She made a comment to the effect that for her, and her family, Jesus Christ is savior not Mohammed.

Consequently, she was arrested on charges of blasphemy, a charge associated with apostasy and treason. Asia Bibi is still in prison. Please see this link for an update on her case: Update Asia Bibi Case

Jesus the Lightworker

From a Christian perspective, this case follows the pattern, again, of Jesus’s Christ’s martyrdom.  Jesus was put to death by the Romans on charges of treason and viewed as an enemy of the state.  Rome at the time mandated emperor worship and penalized prophets who were accused of blaspheming the civic gods or undermining the religious-civic order.

Jesus Christ, the light and the lightworker, shines through acts of self-sacrificial love — whether one is Christian, Muslim, or of another religious or sectarian affiliation.

 

Jesus and the Vibrational Escrow

Preface: Why Consider Channeled Sources of Information about Jesus? 

In this article, I present an angle on Jesus Christ offered by Abraham Hicks, the non-physical entity channeled by Esther Hicks. In doing so, I offer only a brief point of  evaluation and critique, concerning whether this information is in accord with the gospel.

Naturally, some people will doubt the credibility of channeled information. How do we distinguish the holy spirit (of truth) from lies? Lies may come through a channeler. However, lies may come from seemingly accredited sources, too– for instance, in books that claim to be biblical or holy.

Others may doubt the message itself. Are there really such things as the “law of attraction,” vibrational realities, and a “vibrational escrow” as Abraham suggests? Let us consider whether these ideas have practical benefits in our lives, which are in accord with the gospel and message of Jesus Christ.

The subject matter is worth considering, I believe, for the following reasons. First of all, truth can be revealed in surprising places. The church version of Jesus is not necessarily always right and correct (and there are quite a few versions offered by churches). Ideas about Jesus that emerge from popular spirituality can shed light on who Jesus is and can be for us. Let us be receptive and open-minded as well as discerning and critical, regarding all information and sources of revelation.

Secondly, this popular spiritual movement — around Abraham (the channeled source of wisdom), has offered support for people in their quest to lead rich and valuable lives. While critiques are also valid, a philosophy or inspired utterance (even from a channeled source) is worth considering when it yields beneficial practical consequences.

The Law of Attraction and other Vibrational Matters

According to the non-physical teacher Abraham Hicks, channeled by Esther Hicks, we are all vibrational beings. Our lives, which follow a “law of attraction,”  are energetic copies of our own states of consciousness or soul. We attract to ourselves experiences based on this inner blueprint. We may come to be happy and fulfilled if we move with the flow of our lives, along the path of joy and the way of least resistance. In doing so, we enter an energetic “vortex,” which allows us to manifest our own highest good with ease, including a meaningful life, good relationships, abundance, and social contribution.

Who is Jesus According to Abraham?

Abraham as channeled by Esther has some thought-provoking ideas about Jesus and how Jesus heals. Jesus,  one who reached full alignment with the divine source, lived in complete vibrational flow with the highest good and desired reality. Hence, he could perform miracles and speak wisdom.

Essentially, when Jesus heals the afflictions or diseases of people, he does so by assisting them to realize the higher purposes and the joyous desires of their souls in accord with the divine source. Since his vibration is high and always loving, lower vibrations (of sickness, guilt, shame, anger, and pain) dissolve in his presence.  He sees not the sickness but rather the image of God in each person. Behind the complaining, suffering person, who needs healing, there is a positive, hopeful, joyful self — as the true self of that person.

For Abraham, our highest good is contained within our “vibrational escrow,” which may be compared to a bank account that is held in custody until such time as one is ready to withdraw funds. In this vibrational account is deposited our hopes, dreams, goals, our ideals for ourselves, and the very blueprint of our destiny. When we have negative experiences in life– which cause pain and despair –our hardships serve as “contrast experiences,” which assist us to define clearly the positive experiences and desires that we would have preferred. This positive experience (desire, goal, or hope) gets deposited into our vibrational escrow account.

Jesus takes a peek into the “vibrational escrow” of each person. The Savior gives the person help in becoming a vibrational match to the highest potential therein.  Wealth in the escrow account may then be cashed in, while our deposited resources are rightly utilized. Tangibly, our life improves.

Abraham explains why Jesus sometimes counsels secrecy after a miracle or healing. If somebody speaks about his or her healing after it is completed, this person may revive the negative vibration that originally made him or her sick. It is best to cloak healing in silence.

Is it True, Helpful, in Accord with the Gospel?  

For instance, if we have a failed relationship, the failures can assist us to define what a successful relationship would look like. Rather than pushing against the loss, we may reach into our “vibrational escrow,” follow the flow of our desires, and bring to realization the success for which we yearn, in the form of a new relationship (or, sometimes, the healing of the failed one).

It is the role of Jesus to assist us to attune ourselves — or to become a “vibrational match” — for our destiny.

How did Jesus “attract” to himself the crucifixion? Although Abraham has not addressed that question (as far as I know), perhaps the crucifixion is the ultimate “contrast experience,” which serves to define, as a reverse image, the immeasurable good to which we may aspire when we are resurrected and in full communion with the divine source.

As I see it, this philosophy can assist us with the dynamics of prayer. While we do not always need to be positive or in a high vibration in order to pray, it is valuable to dissolve blocks to prayer (in the form of resistance and negative beliefs). We may also benefit from embracing our desires and putting them before God/Jesus, who will assist us to convert our desires into life plans that are effective for our own flourishing and the good of others.

For further reading on related matters:

The Law of One (the Ra Material): Channeling in the Name of Jesus Christ

Come Alive !: The Secret and Life Abundant

Here are some links to recordings where Esther Hicks talks about this philosophy and the spirituality of Jesus in that regard. Jesus is mentioned just in a few places toward the end of the recordings.

 

Acquitted: Update on Asia Bibi Case

Update 10/31: See link

Asia Bibi Acquitted

Please see these links (below) for an update on Asia Bibi’s Case. Two of the videos are updates from ACLJ and one is an interview given by her husband.

Asia Bibi is a Christian woman in Pakistan who has been condemned to death on charges of blasphemy against Mohammed. The case was appealed and the Supreme Court of Pakistan may reverse her conviction.

While it appears that a verdict from the Supreme Court of Pakistan may be issued soon, Asia Bibi remains at risk of mob violence by Islamist extremists if she should be released and declared innocent. The judges in the case are putting their lives in jeopardy. One of her advocates in the government had been murdered, some years ago, in connection with her case. The pressure on the judges to have Asia executed is equally strong.

Thanks to international advocacy, and to moderate Islamist parties who support her, the case has come before the United Nations. Blasphemy accusations are frequent for vilifying religious minorities in Pakistan.

Consider: Jesus himself was falsely accused of treason and blasphemy. The judges in the case were also under pressure from the people, who were set against Jesus though he was innocent. Asia Bibi’s case resembles in basic outline the trial of Jesus.

Please find my earlier post, here: Asia Bibi : Christian Jailed in Pakistan

 

 

Mexican Folk Saint: El Nino (links)

Let us consider El Nino, the Mexican healer, who blended both traditional healing modalities and Christian/Catholic faith.  His festival is celebrated in Espinoza, Mexico in October and March. The October festival (Oct 19) celebrates the anniversaries of his both his death and his birth, while the March festival celebrates his saint’s day (St. Joseph).

Here are some links (please click on them):

Healing Festival in Honor of El Nino

Mexican Folk Saint: El Nino

Book on El Nino

Mexican Folk Saints

Summary Article

Delores Cannon: Jesus and the Essenes

Delores Cannon offers information about the historical Jesus Christ based on material that she obtained from subjects under hypnosis.

Cannon claimed that certain subjects could enter into a very deep trance state, equivalent to somnambulism. In this state, they would remember their past lives. Cannon said that for these subjects,  under hypnosis they are not engaged in normal past-life regression but rather in a kind of time travel. Subjects under deep hypnosis could forget entirely their current life roles and lose consciousness of their contemporary identities. Instead, they would assume the identity of an earlier incarnation of their souls.

Through one such subject, Cannon gained information about the life of Jesus from a subject who had been a member of the Essenes, a Jewish sect that is probably responsible for the Dead Sea Scrolls.

In this post I will not attempt to assess the legitimacy of Cannon’s claims. Can channeled material under trance genuinely serve as a valid historical source? The claim is rather incredible and contravenes normal standards of historical proof.  Nevertheless, the claim may prove to be valid, either completely or in a limited sense.

Apart from the validity of channeled information as an historical source, Cannon’s work on Jesus serves another beneficial function.  Her presentation of Jesus and the Essenes offers us a renewed imagination for the life of Jesus.

Certainly, the New Testament record provides only a partial look at Jesus Christ and his times. Cannon’s material proposes to fill in some of the gaps in the record. The world of Jesus and the New Testament comes alive with a new vividness.  We get a picture of Jesus’s times, culture, and possible spiritual influences. Our imagination for history and for the life of Jesus is thus enriched.

For more on the Essenes, see: The Essenes

Here is an interview withe Delores Cannon on the topic. There are several more talks by her that are available on youtube, too.