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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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.

 

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

Here’s an article, summarizing research about states of mind in relation to various factors, such as longevity and bigotry. It turns out that self-proclaimed “happy” people can be more judgmental and bigoted than “sad” people. Those who experience sadness may open the heart, more easily, to compassion.

This discovery is not, obviously, an argument in favor of depression or despair. However,  next time you are sad, consider the saying of Jesus: “Blessed are those who mourn,” and allow your sadness to open into compassion.

See this article:

If I’m good, I will prosper…. right? Transactional Faith

What is faith? Many times we get caught up by a transactional view of God. If we are good and do the right thing, we will be happy and God will reward us. Such teachings fail to account for unspeakable tragedy, which is undeserved and cannot be relieved by pat solutions.

This video offers a thought-provoking critique of a transactional kind of faith. What if a deep and loving faith embraces the vulnerability of suffering and encourages free questioning?

The Joy of Jesus, by Doreen Virtue

Here are a few thoughts about Doreen Virtue’s book, The Joy of Jesus, which recounts her recent conversion to Jesus Christ, after having been a successful teacher (of new age spirituality), for some decades. I will list, first, what I find positive and admirable about her message. Secondly, I will make a couple of points in critique in light of Christian tenets.

Here’s what I admire about Doreen Virtue’s personal witness, her message, and her book.

  1. The Courage to Take a Stand: DV has fearlessly and courageously sought the truth. Upon realizing that Jesus is the savior — through a vision, prayer, and study — she has been willing to act upon her faith, even at risk to herself. She gave up her lucrative business, and her status, as a new age spiritual teacher in favor of a Christian evangelism for which she receives comparatively few rewards. This courageous example speaks volumes in favor of the life-changing reality of God that she describes.
  2. The Gospel is for Everybody (Finding/Seeking):  DV honestly and graphically recounts the emptiness (indeed, the torment) of a life that is dedicated to spiritual seeking, for its own sake. In her own career as a successful spiritual teacher (so, she confesses), she tirelessly tried to track down special or esoteric knowledge. Yet, if the prize was forthcoming, the pleasures were temporary and elusive.  She likens the promise of esoteric knowledge to Eve’s temptation: the shiny apple is the secret wisdom that will finally make one like God. Esoteric knowledge — or special wisdom — in new age circles can become a commodity and a badge of superiority.  By contrast, the gospel is at once fully satisfying and freely accessible– (the wisdom revealed to babes). If Christ exhibits the nature of God, then it is God’s nature to be generous, truthful, and forgiving.  We may touch God, in the here and now, and rather than searching, relentlessly and restlessly, for something to make us whole, we may find–and be found by–a limitless and loving God. Healed, we are whole.
  3. Joy: DV reveals, through her conversion, an encounter with Jesus Christ that fills the heart with causeless and boundless joy — no matter one’s trials and tribulations. We are all seeking such joy, aren’t we? As DV shows, through Christ, that joy is real.

Here are some points of critique.

  1. Guilt and Judgment: DV seems to believe that she was duped and deceived by the devil up until her conversion and her meeting with Jesus Christ. Yet, against this self-castigating narrative, it may be urged that the Christian gospel is about forgiveness, which releases one from guilt. In the light of forgiveness, one may see the beauty — and truth — that have been present, even while one has been hindered by various vices and sins.  Surely, DV had lots of good things to say, in her earlier books, even if she made some “mistakes,” when measured against her current standards of belief. While writing her books about angels, and portraying Jesus as an ascended master (rather than as the unique Son of God), DV showed an enthusiasm for spiritual things, and curiosity about various ideas, which inspired many.  These gifts ought not to be so sternly condemned. Guilt toward self, furthermore, gets transmuted into judgment toward others. For instance, DV believes that hell is real and that theological universalism is misguided. So, anyone holding these beliefs, so she judges, must be deceived and duped, just as she used to be. Surely, Jesus embraced theological pluralism, on a number of points, even if he also preached certain universals (such as the Great Commandment). Heterodox opinions do not amount to grave sins.
  2. Biblical Literalism: I honor DV’s respect for the Bible. Yet, to lapse into rote biblical literalism is to take the easy way out when faced by controversial or difficult passages. For instance, DV claims that God (through the Bible) condemns mediumship and witchcraft. Yet, Jesus himself was accused of magic and of being in league with demons. These accusations against Jesus were argued on biblical grounds –which draw upon similar passages (from Deuteronomy) as those on the basis of which DV derives her biblical prohibitions against mediumship. If Jesus (the Son of God)  “broke” such biblical rules himself — or if he was suspected of doing so– then perhaps the biblical rules, here, are liable to be misinterpreted. Could it be that the surface meaning of the Bible needs to be probed, more carefully, so that a deeper truth will emerge? Biblical doctrines about hell are equally complex and open to interpretation.

DV’s book, The Joy of Jesus, is available as a free PDF download on her website.

 

Asia Bibi : Christian Jailed in Pakistan

Asia Bibi, Pakistani Christian

The Pakistani Christian woman, Asia Bibi, was arrested and jailed in 2009 for allegedly blaspheming the prophet Muhammed. She was sentenced to death.

In fact, Asia Bibi extended hospitality and friendship towards her Muslim coworkers by sharing water and conversation. Rumors then circulated, and false accusations, claiming that she had defamed the prophet of Islam.

Asia Bibi’s case has been appealed. She has been waiting (in jail) for the Supreme Court of Pakistan to hear the case and render a final verdict.

Jesus fought for Spiritual Freedom : Lightworker

Jesus himself was accused of blasphemy for claiming to be united with God. No matter our religion, all of us have the right– like Jesus–to enjoy such intimacy with God. We ought to be free to openly declare or speak about our faith, peacefully, without incurring retribution by a dogmatic orthodoxy or a strident majority.

Not Just about Religion but about Human Rights

While Asia Bibi’s imprisonment involves persecution on religious grounds, her case goes beyond sectarian differences between religions. Instead, the case puts on trial freedom of speech and basic human rights.

Pakistan, a country which claims to protect religious minorities, ought to uphold the freedom of a person (Asia Bibi) to speak and associate freely with Muslims even while practicing her own different culture and mode of faith.  Is one free, respectfully, to declare one’s own faith (as a Christian) without thereby being accused of allegedly insulting the religion of the Muslim majority?  The charge of blasphemy, if it should ever be legitimate, is illegitimate, here.

This case has not to do with protecting a Christian person, merely, but rather with the democratic right of freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

More Information about the Asia Bibi Case 

A journalist risked her life so that she could get Asia Bibi’s story. The book can be found here: Blasphemy: A Memoir

Here are updates about her case:

Update Asia Bibi Appeal Pakistan

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