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Caught Up to Heaven Through Visualizing Jesus? Part 4

by Karl Kemp  
9/11/2020 / Book Reviews


This is Part 4 of this four-part book review.

8. Excerpts Dealing with Visualization - Especially Dealing with Supposedly Visualizing Jesus or God the Father and then Coming into a Two-Way Dialogue and Interaction with Them. (None of these excerpts include visualizing the Holy Spirit.)

 

8.1. I Have Some Relevant Information on this Topic in My Closely Related Book Review: The Physics of Heaven. Section 7.1 of that book review is titled "A Six-Part Article on the Internet Titled 'Silva Mind Control' Published by the John Ankerberg Show in 1986." As discussed there, all the people who participated in Silva's program received two spirit guides ("counselors," "psychic guides"), one male and one female, who would always be available to them. They were able to choose who the guides would be, with the exception that they couldn't always get the guides they wanted. (As I mentioned there, there probably aren't enough demons always available who can adequately impersonate popular requests like Jesus and Mary.) They could have access to the guides any time they wanted. This is one of many popular ways to receive your own demons to "help" you. They can "help" you in many ways, but it is guaranteed that they will never help you draw close to God or His truth and righteousness. These occult things are cleverly designed to look good, but they are clearly evil and forbidden to Christians and never work for real good, quite the contrary. Satan, the god of this world system hates God, His kingdom, and His people.  

The next section of my book review on The Physics of Heaven (7.2) deals with Johanna Michaelson's book, The Beautiful Side of Evil. She tells how she acquired her two spirit guides through Silva Mind Control. She chose Jesus to be one of them. She ended up being groomed to become a full trance medium used in a powerful manifestation of psychic healing in Mexico City, where a demon (claiming to be the spirit of Cuauhtemoc, an Aztec leader who had been killed by Spanish conquistadores in the 1500s) would powerfully work through the medium he possessed. Johanna was convinced that what she was doing was good, but she eventually came to understand that a demon was impersonating Jesus and the miraculous healings that were taking place were of Satan. She became a solid, Bible-believing Christian and a minister. 

 

8.2. Excerpts Taken from The Seduction of Christianity: Spiritual Discernment in the Last Days by Dave Hunt and T. A. McMahon (Harvest House Publishers, 1985), 240 pages. (I received permission to quote extensively from this book by Mark Vander Ark at The Berean Call.) 

8.2.1. I'll quote part of what the authors say under the heading "The Power of the Imagination?" (page 33). "... In seminars called 'The Power of the Imagination' sponsored by Marquette University, psychologists have trained thousands of persons across America to visualize 'inner guides' similar to Hill's and with equally astonishing results [[Napoleon Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich and other best-selling books. He had several spirit guides (so-called Ascended Masters), who took the initiative to come to him to reveal the occult secrets he shares in his books. He very often met with and interacted with these spirit guides who answered his questions and taught him many things. Many Christians have used and promoted his books. The techniques work, but by demonic power.]]. Though it can easily be proved that the imagination is not unlimited...this deceptive belief has gained a strong foothold within the church. [[The authors said this because many have insisted that all of this supernatural wisdom, knowledge, revelation, and power, etc. come from the unconscious mind, which includes the imagination, not from demons or other beings. The authors are certainly right that "the imagination is not unlimited." For those who believe what the Bible says about Satan's kingdom and demons, it is obvious that his kingdom is behind these supernatural things and that God's people are forbidden to go there. It can never work for ultimate good, quite the opposite. The messages from this other world consistently deny the foundational truths of Christianity and the Bible. This is serious! God's people cannot leave any doors open for demonic input. Spirit guides, which, when they are real (not fake), are demons. The occult world has understood that they were interacting with spirits, not imagination. God didn't deny the reality of the sorcerer's limited supernatural power, but He always forbade His people to go there.]] The power of the imagination is becoming confused [by some Christians] with inspiration and power of the Holy Spirit. ...."   

8.2.2 Under the heading "Visualization: The Ancient Tradition" (pages 140-141). "Christian leaders who promote and defend visualization [This includes visualizing Jesus (or others) and then beginning to speak and interact with Him AND visualizing the desired results in order to bring them to pass. I'm mostly interested in the first type of visualization for this book review.] seem unwilling to admit that it lies at the heart of religious beliefs that are demonically inspired and unalterably hostile to [Bible-based] Christianity. They suggest instead that shamanistic visualization is a counterfeit of God's truth that they teach. HOWEVER, THERE IS NO TRUE VISUALIZATION TAUGHT OR PRACTICED IN THE BIBLE FOR SATAN TO COUNTERFEIT; VISUALIZATION IS AS ABSENT FROM SCRIPTURE AS IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN PRESENT IN THE OCCULT [my emphasis]. Neither Isaiah, Jeremiah, nor any other biblical prophet created his visions through visualization, but received them by inspiration from God. JESUS DIDN'T TEACH THAT HIS DISCIPLES COULD GET HIM TO APPEAR AT WILL BY VISUALIZING HIM [[(my emphasis). THIS IS IMPORTANT! THIS TECHNIQUE IS NOT BASED ON THE BIBLE. If we could really do this with God's permission, we ought to be doing this all the time! One-on-one, face-to-face interaction with the Lord Jesus or God the Father compared with typical Christian prayer! What should/would you choose?]], or that we should visualize what we are praying for and thereby bring it to pass. [[The occult world teaches that we can cause things to come to pass by visualizing them coming to pass. Supernatural things that come to pass in the occult world come to pass through the authority and power of Satan and his hosts. God answers prayer by His power and for His glory.]] Yet this is being taught by Christian leaders today and who without intending to lead anyone into occultism are, nevertheless, pointing them in that direction by some of the methodologies they promote. 

Just as in the church today, throughout history shamanistic visualization has been associated with healing, both physical and spiritual. Common threads of belief and practice can be traced from ancient times down to the present. There is no more obvious link between paganism/occultism and [some] modern psychological/religious practices than visualization. Biblical Christianity alone stands outside of and in opposition to these pagan traditions. ...."  

8.2.3. What the authors say under the subheading, "What You See Is What You'll Be," is very important for this book review (pages 144-146). "We will have more to say in the next chapter concerning the growing trend of conjuring up in the imagination a fantasy 'Jesus' or 'God,' who then literally comes alive in the mind. [[There is no Biblical basis to justify doing this. The only options seem to be that this is either something created in your imagination and you are not really seeing, speaking and interacting with Jesus, or you are visualizing a demon impersonating Him. And there is no doubting that demons jump at this opportunity even more than they love to impersonate, in séances, people who have died. THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS!]] Any shaman would acknowledge that visualizing someone or something in the mind is the fastest way to make contact with spirit entities. Shamanism in the form of visualization is being introduced into the church today by numerous Christian leaders who are not recognizing it for what it is. [[(This double bracket continues for two paragraphs.) Many are visualizing Jesus (or others, including Mary) in inner healing; others are visualizing Jesus in times of prayer. How many, if any, are actually interacting with the real Jesus? WE OUGHT TO AT LEAST STOP AND SERIOUSLY AND PRAYERFULLY, WITH SOME FEAR AND TREMBLING, CHECK THIS OUT! AGAIN, THIS IS SERIOUS BUSINESS! I DON'T BELIEVE THAT MANY ARE CHECKING THIS OUT! IT ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH TO SAY THAT THEY ARE GETTING RESULTS. THOSE WHO FOLLOW NAPOLEON HILL GET RESULTS TOO! 

I'm not an expert on all that goes on under the label "inner healing." Some who practice inner healing are liberal in their understanding of the Bible and don't believe in demons. I believe that many Christians, if not all Christians, have room to be healed in the inner man. However, I have a very hard time believing that it is OK to encourage people to visualize Jesus and that He will begin to speak with them, interact with them (hug them, for example), and heal them. God has ways to heal everything that needs to be healed, but I don't believe we need the non-Biblical technique of visualizing Jesus, especially when it is clear that the occult world has been using this technique for thousands of years.]]  

Foster's Celebration of Discipline has been a favorite among many conservative evangelicals. [The label "evangelical" used to include putting top priority on what the Bible says, along with the need to be born again. I don't know anything about Richard Foster or what he has written beyond what Hunt and McMahon say. In chapter 9 of Seduction of Christianity, they mention that Foster was heavily influenced by Agnes Sanford.] Yet Celebration teaches that visualization can be used to transcend time and space and ascend into the very presence of God: "In your imagination allow your spiritual body, shining with light, to rise out of your physical body...up through the clouds and into the stratosphere...deeper and deeper into outer space until there is nothing except the warm presence of the eternal Creator [I can picture a hypnotist saying this. I took a class with a professional hypnotist.].' [Celebration, p. 27] Foster assures us that this is not mere fantasy or imagination, but reality created with the mind. [Ibid, p. 26.] ["Richard Foster promises that through visualization we encounter the real Jesus Christ: '... Jesus Christ will actually come to you' (page 164)."] Christians are unwittingly falling into an old occult practice attempting to create reality and even manipulate God through forming vivid mental images. ...." 

8.2.4. Under "Visualizing the Deities" (pages 158-160). "Visualization brings surprisingly easy contact with what witch doctors and other shamans have always called 'spirits.' [Michael] Harner explains that 'the shaman has at least one, and usually more 'spirits' in his personal service. Without a guardian spirit it is virtually impossible to be a shaman....' [Michael Harner, The Way of the Shaman (Harper and Row, 1980, p. 20.] Modern man follows the same shamanistic procedures and contacts the same 'spirits' but calls them 'inner guides' or 'imaginary guides.' [Hunt and McMahon go on to mention a couple who have become famous for getting terminal cancer patients "healed through the power of 'inner guides.' " I don't doubt it.] ...."

8.2.5. Under "How to Meet Your Own Jesus?" (pages 160-163). "Those pursuing healing and success often fall prey to the temptation to accept whatever seems to work, and to adjust their interpretation of the Bible accordingly [if they even bother to consider what the Bible says; many "Christians" have less respect for what the Bible says all the time]. Christians are being taught to 'visualize' themselves on a beautiful, sandy beach or a peaceful, grassy knoll, and to 'see' Jesus approaching them. All over America, specialists in healing of the memories are leading entire congregations to visualize Jesus as present at some traumatic childhood or even prenatal event [or post-childhood events], which He sanctifies, forgives or changes - and in the process delivers them from their past. [For one thing, it makes a big difference whether this "Jesus" interacts with them, speaks to them, hugs them, etc., which things often take place. I have a very difficult time believing that the Lord Jesus actually appears, but I cannot say that He never would do this. However, As Hunt and McMahon say, there is zero Biblical basis for us to initiate this contact through visualization to make Him appear, and demons have been appearing on a regular basis impersonating Jesus, Mary, or just about anybody else, very much including what happens in séances that are real (not fake) but demonic.] Others who are not necessarily advocating the same type of inner healing, also promote a similar visualization of Jesus. ... 

Is this visualized 'Jesus' merely an aid to faith, like an icon in a Greek Orthodox church? ... Or is this actually Jesus Himself coming to us whenever we image Him in our minds, as some are teaching? If that is the case, would it not seem that we have Jesus on a string and can make Him appear at will? [[And if that isn't the case, what kind of mental/spiritual gymnastics are being accomplished? Or, and this is super serious, how many are interacting with a demon impersonating Jesus? I believe it is clear that demons are experts at this. The authors of Seduction are totally concerned about Christians interacting with demons, and rightly so.]] The Bible teaches that Christ has come to live within those who have opened their hearts to Him [through the third Person of the Trinity, who dwells in every born-again Christian], receiving Him as Savior and Lord. Jesus has promised His presence in a special way wherever two or three are gathered together in His name. For Him actually to appear to His own, however, is something altogether different, and has only happened on rare occasions. [And the authors go on to mention, for example, His appearing to His disciples the evening of the day He was resurrected and a week later too.] ... 

Jesus carefully told His disciples that He was going away, and that He would send the Holy Spirit to be with them [and with all true Christians]. The Comforter has come, and we know His presence in our lives.... Visualization of God or Jesus plays no part in this, is not necessary, and in fact is an attempt to make Him appear rather than to know His abiding presence. Our Lord certainly gave no instruction nor even hinted that anyone should visualize Him and that He would appear. ... 

... In any such techniques, the definite possibility exists of opening the door to demonic contact or even acquire a 'spirit guide' that we may think is the real Jesus." Demons are intelligent, subtle and persistent and they don't mind spending many years "helping" people in various ways, especially those who will be influential, in order to deceive and accomplish the purposes of their master.

8.2.6. Under "But It Works" (pages 163-164). "... For charismatic Catholic priests Dennis and Matthew Linn and Sheila Fabricant the visualized image brings actual contact with Jesus Himself. They declare: 'Although she was using her imagination, it was not just her imagination but really Jesus touching her....' [Dennis Linn, Matthew Linn, and Sheila Fabricant, Praying With Another For Healing (Paulist Press, 1984), p. 30.] Richard Foster claims that through visualization we encounter the real Jesus Christ: '...you can actually encounter the living Christ in the event. It can be more than the exercise of the imagination, it can be a genuine confrontation. Jesus Christ will actually come to you.' [Foster, Celebration, p. 26.] 

In spite of the fact that it is obviously not biblical, the visualization of Jesus is an increasingly popular tool for Christian psychologists and inner healers. ...."  

8.2.7. One gigantic problem we have in our day. Large numbers of Christians, Protestants and Catholics, have been taught that the devil, evil angels, and demons don't really exist. The Bible is wrong! This should not include any who call themselves evangelicals, but it undoubtedly does. I'll give an important illustration of this very serious problem. I was very active teaching among Catholic charismatics in the late 60s and 70s. I saw large numbers of Catholics come to a solid, born-again, Bible-based Christianity. I was never around the inner-healing ministries that took place among some Catholic charismatics, but I had an interesting conversation with one of the leaders in that movement. Their inner-healing ministries typically involved visualizing Jesus (or Mary). There was no way that this leader, who happened to be a nun, could guard against any demonic input because she had been taught (and believed) that the devil and demons don't exist. Talk about a dangerous situation! As far as I could tell she wasn't interested in what the Bible says about the devil and demons.  

8.2.8. Under "Idolatry and Demons" (pages 167-169). "... Satan or demons...will hide behind any mask and answer to any image or name. They are very broad-minded in their various ruses to get humans under their power. ... This is what makes visualization of Jesus or God not just a minor error but extremely dangerous. That visualization is ideally suited for contact with demons can be demonstrated in the fact that it has been used for that very purpose for thousands of years in various forms of shamanism. And the shaman will always tell you that it doesn't matter what image you conjure up, but conjure up an image you must." 

8.2.9. Under "Psychological Salvation" (pages 171-172). "The very power of the experiences seems to 'prove' that they are genuine not only to non-Christians but even to Christian leaders as well. Writing in Christian Life magazine, Robert L. Wise, a well-known pastor and leader in the Presbyterian Revival movement, explained a 'new method of prayer therapy,' which he said was 'pioneered in the mid-1960s by the doyenne [senior member of a group] of Episcopal renewal theology, Agnes Sanford.' [Christian Life Magazine, July 1984, Robert L. Wise, 'Healing of the Memories: A Prayer Therapy For You?' pp. 63-64.] Wise told what happened when he first visualized 'Jesus' during a 'Healing of the Memories' session under the direction of a Christian leader who had learned the technique from Sanford: 'I began to visualize myself as a boy of eight. I was startled to see...myself carrying a large bundle on my back, [which] apparently... symbolized my past needs and worries.                   

'Now see if you can imagine Jesus appearing,' she instructed. 'Let him walk toward you.' [This can be called guided imagery. Hypnotism could play a role here.]

Much to my amazement, I - an ordained Reformed clergyman with a doctorate in psychology - found this happening to me. An image of Jesus moved slowly toward me out of that dark playground. He began to extend His hands toward me in a loving, accepting manner....

I no longer was creating the scene. The figure of Christ reached over and lifted the bundle from my back. And he did so with such forcefulness that I literally sprang from the pew.' " Very often in visualized incidents like this one, "Jesus" will speak, hug, give instructions, etc. I don't have all the answers, but I cannot accept these techniques. We don't have a Biblical basis for any of this, and we have been warned that the occult world has been doing comparable things all along. We have also been warned of very serious Satanic deception here at the end of this age. 

8.2.10. Under "A Spirit Guide Called 'Jesus'?" (pages 172-173). "Is this the real Jesus? Rita Bennett [a leader in the inner healing movement] says, 'When we pray and encourage a person to visualize Jesus, the accuracy of the picture isn't important. [Bennett, Free, p. 116.] See Him as your favorite artist pictures Him if you like. [Ibid. p. 122.] Nevertheless, Mrs. Bennett seems to be convinced that more than the imagination is involved in such experiences. Referring to the fantasized [visualized] Jesus that is initially created in the imagination, but who thereafter comes alive like a motion picture on a screen in the mind [I believe it's typically three dimensional], she says, 'It's necessary to follow His guidance.' [Ibid., p. 138.] If this is indeed the real Jesus, then she is giving sound advice. However, there is neither example nor teaching in the Bible to indicate that Jesus ever appeared or ever will appear to anyone because he or she visualized Him. He is not a magic genie to be conjured up through the power of our minds. [WE SHOULD PRAYERFULLY AND CAREFULLY CHECK THIS OUT!] 

Then who or what is this figure that becomes so real? What is going on in the visualizer's mind? In some inner healing experiences, such as Robert Wise describes, it would appear that contact has been made with some spirit being. Moreover, what this 'Jesus' says or does, as this fantasy motion picture being played on an imaginary mental screen begins to roll on its own, seems to give valid answers to questions and solve perplexing problems. [We need to know that in séances demons impersonating those who have died are able to answer all kinds of questions, etc.] Is it possible that the same demonic beings who pose as 'spirit guides' for occultists could appear to Christians as 'Jesus'? Would demons be above using such a tactic? 

It should be clear that 1) this procedure is not biblical; 2) it has been used for thousands of years in numerous forms of sorcery; 3) something more than imagination is taking place; and 4) those who practice it run the real risk of opening themselves to demonic influence. 

'Spirit guides,' which have been an integral part of occultism for thousands of years, are contacted through the very same visualization techniques and are equally as real as the Christian's visualized 'Jesus.' Nor is their guidance any less accurate or compelling. Although God is merciful, Christians who persist in techniques designed to make Jesus appear are on dangerous ground [I believe we must seriously consider what Hunt and McMahon say here.] ...." 

8.2.11. Under "Psychospirituality on the Move" (pages 173-175). "... So in the name of the latest psychology we are being led back into primitive paganism/shamanism, which then enters the church because psychology is embraced as scientific and neutral. Tragically, this is often done by sincere leaders who imagine that they are bringing revival to the church. Unaware that they are adopting psychologized shamanism in their concern to restore God's power in the experience of physical and emotional healings, these men are creating a powerful New Age 'paradigm shift' that is changing the way thousands of pastors and future pastors view Christianity and the Bible. ...." 

8.2.12. Under "Just Imagine" (pages 175-177). "... For those who make contact with 'Jesus' in this manner [visualizing Him], we can only warn that there is no biblical support for the idea that the real Jesus would appear to them on that basis. In fact it is all to the contrary. Numerous places in the Bible, such as Deuteronomy 18, make it clear that all occult practices are absolutely forbidden to the people of God."   

8.2.13. Under "Self-Idolatry" (pages 189-191). "... The practice of shamanistic visualization runs the spectrum from inner healing to self-improvement techniques, and the latter involves various forms of self-hypnosis.... This seduction now touches every aspect of Christian life, and infects the church [but not all churches] from charismatics to anticharismatics, from liberals to evangelicals, from Catholics to Protestants, from clergy to laymen. As a major vehicle of the seduction that unites most of its elements, psychology is a Trojan horse par excellence that has slipped past every barrier."

8.2.14. Chapter 14, "Tomorrow the World!" I'll just quote one sentence from this last chapter in the book. "After becoming Christians, many who have been involved in the New Age movement and know it from the inside inquire why they find much of the same occultism in the church and on Christian TV, and why very few pastors seem willing or able to confront this issue. ..." (pages 211-212).

 

8.3. Excerpts Taken from Beyond Seduction: A Return to Biblical Christianity by Dave Hunt (Harvest House Publishers, 1987), 282 pages. (I received permission to quote extensively from this book by Mark Vander Ark at The Berean Call). 

8.3.1. Under "The  Enigma of Faith and Unbelief" (pages 191-193). "True faith does not depend on seeing, but unbelief persists in spite of overwhelming tangible evidence [including seeing miracles and having visions, etc. Consider, for example, all of the people who saw Jesus' miracles but did not believe in Him/submit to Him in faith.]. ... 

... The revelation of God must come from Himself, and man must be very careful that his own imagination [or demons] does not enter the process and thereby deceive him. Yet we are now being told that imagination is the key element in meditation, prayer, and knowing God. 

How can we be certain we are not being deceived by what we imagine is God's guidance? The Bible provides no 'techniques for getting in touch with God,' and all such should be avoided. [We know, of course, that we, His born-again children, have access to Him through faith by the indwelling Spirit of God, but this doesn't include seeing Him and then interacting with Him. Very few Christians experience these things while still living in physical bodies, and there is nothing in the Bible to back up contacting Him through visualization.] God speaks through His Word, and any personal direction or assurance of the Holy Spirit is always in agreement with the Word. But we can no more explain how to receive daily guidance from God than explain how His 'Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit that we are the children of God' (Romans 8:16). To hear God's voice even through the written Word, we must belong to Him and sincerely desire His will instead of our own [cf. John 7:17]. Growing in this personal relationship comes through obedience and maturity in the faith under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. ... 

Far from helping God reveal Himself and His will, imagination pollutes with our own thoughts [or demonic input] the pure communication of the Spirit. ...."

8.3.2. Under "An Ancient But Powerful Lie" (pages 195-198). "... Witch doctors, medicine men, and other shamans learned long ago...and that if the scene created in the imagination is vivid enough, contact will be made with a mysterious spirit world that seems just as real as the physical one. [It is just as real, in some ways more real. God's kingdom and the devil's kingdoms are real. These kingdoms existed before man was created. Of course the devil's temporary, fallen kingdom is very secondary and far beneath God's eternal kingdom.] Those who attempt to contact God in this manner open themselves to the [very real] possibility of demonic deception from seducing spirits [this obviously is a very serious matter!], who are only too happy to pose as 'God' or 'Christ' or whatever deity is being visualized. In a publication devoted to sharing 'guidance and wisdom from the loving beings of the Spirit Plane,' a seducing spirit that calls itself 'Soli' declares: 'However you perceive of us in the spirit dimension, that is how we shall appear to you.'   

... Psychology 'scientifically' turns occultism into an exploration of the inner world of the psyche,' purges it of demons and real evil by the expedient of new definitions, and turns spiritualism into a purely mental trip, beneficial and now prescribed for numerous forms of psychotherapy and self-development. The theories of Carl Jung provide an alleged scientific interpretation which in effect demythologizes [removes the supposed myths, which really aren't myths but evil spiritual reality] occultism so that those who are practicing it are assured that, rather than dealing with actual spiritual beings, they are instead making contact with archetypal images in the collective unconscious. This allows the Jungian analyst to engage in old-fashioned witchcraft under psychological labels. ... 

Christianized versions of this psychologized shamanism are now being practiced in the church by inner healers and Christian psychologists who attempt through 'active imagination' to 'see' and 'hear' the things of God. They have fallen for a very ancient but powerful lie - and one that works. As a result, an extremely dangerous teaching is spreading throughout the church. It suggests that seeing is actually the key to faith, and that it can all be done in the mind. Indeed, the exercise of the imagination (and especially of visualization as its most powerful form) is being hailed as the secret to spiritual growth and answered prayer, and even to contact with God and Christ." Based on what I have read, and I know Hunt agrees, many believe they are actually seeing, hearing, and interacting with the Lord Jesus or God the Father, etc. In some cases they are undoubtedly just doing something in their minds and not actually making contact with demons impersonating the Lord Jesus, etc., but it is all-too-possible that they are making contact with demons. This is serious business! Again, there is no scriptural basis for taking the initiative and visualizing Jesus and beginning to interact with Him, but the occult world has been using visualization all along to contact spirits, including spirits impersonating those who have died (séances, necromancy).

8.3.3. Under "The Power of the Imagination" (page 198). "As soon...as we think that visualization somehow creates or influences exterior reality (i.e. visualizing the golf ball dropping into the cup will make it happen) or that contact can be made with Jesus or God [[What Christian would not want to make visual, direct contact with Jesus or God if God has made this available, but there is no evidence that He has made it available, quite the contrary. This would be a super-gigantic modification of what we have been taught about our relationship with Jesus or God the Father in the New Testament. However, I believe we can all agree that if we are thinking that we will miss the ball being pitched to us, and are afraid we will look bad and are even afraid that we might get hit by the ball, we won't hit the ball very often. (I remember a lot of that when I first started playing baseball.) We need to deal with this inadequate "interior reality."]], we have opened ourselves to possible demonic influences."

8.3.4. Under "Walking by Faith" (pages 206-207). "Those who 'visualize' Christ and even God believe that they are somehow touching a deep level of reality made possible through a mysterious power of the mind. [This is one view.] Advocates usually link 'imaging' with 'positive thinking and faith.' [N. V. Peale, Imaging, p. 79.] Commenting favorably upon a best-selling book that presents this concept, one of today's most respected Christian psychologists, an evangelical leader who likewise advocates imaging oneself with Jesus [Wright, Fears, p. 53.] writes: 'Norman Vincent Peale described it in this way: "imaging is a kind of laser beam of imagination, a shaft of mental energy...[which] releases powerful internal forces that can bring about astonishing changes in the life of the person who is doing the imaging." [This isn't God doing something, and He will not be glorified.]

He [Jesus Christ] was the first to teach the power of imaging.' [Ibid., p. 143.] 

Searching the New Testament in vain to discover when Jesus taught 'the power of imaging,' one wonders what a visualized mental image created in the imagination has to do with reality and the moral content of faith. And since Jesus nor any of the apostles or prophets either taught or practiced 'creative imaging,' why do so many of today's church leaders consider it to be the 'best guarantee' for 'keeping the faith'? Again it is psychology, by its sanctioning of visualization as 'scientific,' which has made this occult technique acceptable both to modern Western society and to [many in] the church." 

8.3.5. Under "Psychologized Christianized Visualization" (pages 208-209). "Much of the growing use (both in today's society and in the church) of the imagination, guided imagery, and visualization in order to transform reality, relive the past, and make contact with 'inner guides' (including 'Jesus,' 'Mary,' and 'God') is due to the influence of one man - Swiss psychologist Carl Gustav Jung [who had a spirit guide and was deeply involved with the occult]. ... ...."

8.3.6. Under "The Insidious Influence of Carl Jung" (pages 209-210). "That Jung was a heavily demonized occultist from childhood through adulthood is impossible to deny [Jung, Memories, Adventures and Reflections (Pantheon, 1963), pp. 104-06; Tomorrow magazine, Spring 1961.], and his connection to 'inner healing' and 'visualization' practices within the church is too clear to require further comment. 

... For six years...Jung teetered on the brink of insanity. 

At first in dreams, then in visions, and finally in fully wakened consciousness (when he became so psychotic that the distinction between reality and delusion blurred almost completely), Carl Jung had repeated 'visitations and revelations' from the spirit world, even including experiences with 'God' and the 'Holy Ghost' descending upon him 'in the form of a dove' [Carl Jung, Memories, pp. 10-11, 48, 171-72.]. Jung's wide variety of occult experiences [See, for example, Jung's letter to Prof. Fritz Blanke published in Neue Wissenschaft, Vol. VII, 1951, p. 14; Psychology and the Occult (Princeton Press, 1977), pp. 143-52; Memories, p. 98, 189-92.] including alleged conversations and even travel with the dead. [Jung, Memories, p. 312, etc.] It was the 'revelations' he received out of this milieu of Spiritism and near insane occultism, especially from his spirit guide, Philemon, that became the basis for the psychological theories that Jung developed over the remainder of his life. [Jung, Memories, pp. 170-99; see also Seven Sermons on the Dead (Neill & Company, Edinburgh, 1925).]

This is not supposition: Jung freely admits it. And it is upon these 'doctrines of devils,' and not Scripture, that much of the practice of 'inner healing' and other 'meditation' and 'visualization' techniques now accepted in the church are based."

8.3.7. Under "A Deadly Departure from Scripture" (pages 213-214). "It is staggering to see that beliefs and practices which the Bible specifically warns against are being taught by Christian leaders. One of the most blatant examples is a new Christian book written for youth ministers. After explaining a Yoga-related relaxation technique that one is to practice each day, the author states:   

'Repeat this breathing exercise several times. Next, try to imagine God; keep trying in your mind (for however long it takes) to form an image of God. When the image is there, you will know it.

Do not worry if this first exercise takes a long time. After the image is clear, focus on it as long as you can.

You may have to fine tune it by focusing on each part of the image and visualizing yourself with that image.

Eventually it will speak to you....

Incorporate sounds or visuals into your mental image. Allow the sights and sounds to fade as you continue keeping God's image at the center of your picture. [J. David Stone, Spiritual Growth in Youth Ministry (Group, 1985), p. 70.] 

This is Christianized spiritualism. That the image speaks does not guarantee that one has made contact with God. [That's for sure!] In fact, that could not be the case, since the true God has specifically forbidden the use of images for contacting or worshiping Him. Therefore, one has been deceived by one's own imagination or, worse yet, contact has been made with a masquerading demon that has been given the ultimate disguise by the unsuspecting idolater. [We must not open any doors for demons!] In numerous transmissions from the spirit world through mediums, the demons have boasted of their ability to take on whatever form the visualizer will accept. An entity that claims to be an angel named Raphael boasts: 'We work with all who are vibrationally sympathetic; simple and sincere people who feel our spirit moving, but for the most part, only within the context of their current belief system.' 

In a witchcraft network newspaper a practicing witch explains that the breathing exercises being adopted by Christians are 'the most important part of relaxing [and getting into altered states of consciousness],' and that this is the way children especially are to be led into 'chakra work, meditation, trance work' and all 'other craft [i.e. witchcraft] work.' [Donna Clark, "Being Still With Your Child," in Circle Network, Winter, 1985, p. 12.] In the same issue the essential role of visualization in occult healing rituals is mentioned; then the author explains how easily those who 'do not follow our way' can be led into witchcraft. Even Christians, she says, 'do not see the rite as a threat to their religious beliefs' because the visualization 'allows them to put their own "names" and "labels" on the deities.' [Ibid., Donna Clark, "Divine Healing Ritual," p. 6.]

It should be clear how deadly a departure visualization of 'God' or 'Christ' is from the teaching of Scripture. Christians involved in such techniques are either self-deluded by their own fantasy or they are naively trafficking with demons, imagining that they are in contact with God or Christ." 

8.3.8. Under "Beware the Imaginary Jesus" (pages 214-215). "... Visualization of a fantasized Jesus is an attempt to manufacture 'his appearing' before God's time. The consequences of this practice, now sweeping the church and deceiving naïve Christians, are too serious to be brushed aside. The real Jesus will never stoop to become the servant of our imaginations. ... 

Even without occult involvement, visualization of 'Jesus' can result in spiritual disaster. It [for one thing] is the perfect technique for deceiving those who do not know Christ into imagining that they have made contact with Him. ... Tozer left this solemn reminder: 'There are a great many bogus Christs among us these days. John Owen, the old Puritan, warned people in his day: "You have an imaginary Christ, and if you are satisfied with an imaginary Christ you must be satisfied with an imaginary salvation" ' [A. W. Tozer, from his booklet Total Commitment to Christ, cited in Gems, p. 24.]."    

8.3.9. Under "Faith: The Evidence of Things Not Seen" (pages 222-224). "... There is a growing number of books promoting such techniques. In its most dangerous form, contact is made with a spirit entity that one believes to be Jesus or God and that actually speaks to the visualizer. The Association of Church-centered Bible Schools, which is establishing many schools in churches across America and Canada, includes in its curriculum a course that is designed to teach 'Spirit-to-spirit encounters with Almighty God' whereby students are able to establish 'two-way dialogue with God in their prayer lives.' [From a brochure explaining the curriculum, obtainable from Full Gospel Tabernacle, P.O. Box 590, Orchard Park, NY 14127.] The Dean of Students and Director of Curriculum for the ACBS explains how he first made this encounter: 

'As I peered intently into the [visualized] picture and looked to see what might happen, it came alive through the Holy Spirit [any involvement of the Holy Spirit is debatable]. Jesus moved and gestured...[and] there came into my heart His words and directives for my life.... [A later excerpt makes it clear that Virkler is speaking of two-way dialogue with Jesus.]

I found as I repeated this experiment in subsequent days that God [he is speaking of Jesus] continued to move through these "self-initiated scenes," [note "self-initiated"] causing them to come alive with His own life and become supernatural visions direct from the throne.

At this point I want to stop to answer some of the questions you may be asking. First, 'Don’t you limit God by forcing Him to fit into this scene you have set for Him to fill?' The answer is absolutely yes!'

Of course, God has some variance as He takes over the scene you have set' [Mark Virkler, Dialogue With God: Opening the Door to 2-Way Prayer (Bridge Publishing, p. 173.]." 

[[I was shocked when I first read these words in 1987 or 1988. And I was doubly shocked when I learned that an evangelical Christian friend I had known for a long time told me he was using the technique Virkler taught. I spent quite a bit of time checking this out, reading one of Virkler's books and quite a few articles on his internet site. It was easy to confirm that he was clearly teaching that Christians can greatly enhance their prayer life by visualizing Jesus and entering into a two-way dialogue with Him. Back then I had super-strong reservations about this, and I still do. Anyway, Virkler's ministry is still going, and if he has changed anything I haven't heard of it. Also, when I recently spoke with the evangelical Christian who had begun to practice this technique he was still doing it. This is still hard for me to believe. This is such a gigantic change from anything the Bible teaches, but it fits what the occult world has been doing for thousands of years. There is no telling how many people Virkler has led into this type of visualization over the years, and he is just one of very many Christians who teach these things. (now back to quoting Hunt:)]] 

... ...to attempt to visualize God or Jesus, or to change or create reality by visualization is a step into the occult. ... 

... Again, it is psychology that has undermined Scripture and given credibility to what would otherwise be recognized as blatant shamanism but is now confused with Christianity. For example, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Menlo Park, California now encourages 'spiritual experiences' that include the following, all of which are considered to be equally valid: 'Seeing visions. Speaking in tongues. Walking and talking with Jesus. Blissed out on Buddha. Wrestling with Satan. Sighting UFOs.' [Joan Connell, "The Spiritual Frontier," in San Jose Mercury News, June 14, 1986, p. 1C.] 

8.3.10. Under "Visions, Dreams, and Imagery in the Bible" (pages 230-232). "... There is an obvious difference between receiving visions and dreams from God and developing them ourselves. God's prophets carefully state that God's words, revelations, and visions came to them from the Lord as He willed. Never is there even a hint that they took the initiative and made contact with God through some technique in which the prophets were trained. ... 

We dare not tamper with the supernatural process whereby the Holy Spirit communicates with man. As we have already seen, any attempt to do so is denounced as divination and is absolutely forbidden in Scripture. It is a means of making contact in the spirit realm with Satan or his demons posing as angels of light, but not with God. However, techniques are now being taught to 'assist Christians in encountering the living God.' As one author assures us: '...anyone can enter into this experience. It is not reserved for a select few...the techniques presented in this book actually are effective in  bringing people into two-way dialogue with Almighty God [Virkler, Dialogue, p. 72.]." 

8.3.11. Under "Dangerous Delusion" (pages 232-233). "... The most dangerous delusion is the belief that one has actually come in contact with God or Christ through visualization. The author quoted above [Virkler] who teaches techniques for developing two-way conversation with God writes, 'The Lord spoke to me: "Remember that vision [active imagination/visualization] is more than technique.... It is an encounter with Me. It is Me, nothing more, nothing less, just Me!" ' [Virkler, Dialogue, p. 87.] Another evangelical author declares:

'As you enter the [visualized] story, not as a passive observer but as an active participant, remember that since Jesus lives in the Eternal Now and is not bound by time, this event in the past is a living present-time experience for Him.

Hence, you can actually encounter the living Christ in the event, be addressed by His voice and be touched by His healing power.

It can be more than an exercise of the imagination; it can be a genuine confrontation. Jesus Christ will actually come to you.' " [Foster, Celebration, p. 26.]

8.3.12. Under "Biblical Appearances of Christ" (pages 233-234). "... ...it is clear that [after His resurrection] His disciples were not visualizing Jesus and thereby causing Him to appear as they pleased; He initiated His appearances. It is the same today. To imagine that we can summon from the right hand of God the Father the Son of God by visualizing Him is to deceive ourselves. And we give to seducing spirits the ultimate disguise when we offer them the identity of God or Christ." [As we have discussed, it is also possible that such experiences are taking place in our imagination, but if so, we are not really coming in contact with God or Christ.]

8.3.13. Under "The Passion for God" (pages 234-236). "Let us beware that our desire to know God does not become perverted into seeking a God who will be our servant. Our hearts are deceitful, and the imagination of our hearts is evil. [At least true Christians have the all-to-real potential to think and walk by the old man/the flesh on occasion.] That is why techniques for getting in touch with God are forbidden, and why Satan has been able to use them so effectively to his ends. 'Exploring the inner world,' which is now being openly advocated by Christian leaders, can be extremely dangerous even for those whose motives are the best, if scriptural principles are violated. The fact that a person sincerely desires to know God is no excuse for attempting to contact God through a Ouija board, for example - and the techniques of visualization and activating the imagination through looking within are just as much divination devices as a crystal ball. 'Visualization' is the foremost technique recommended by the 'spirit entities' that speak through today's most popular mediums. As one who calls himself 'Emmanuel' recently said, 'The use of visualization is a most powerful tool for you to use' [Sylvia LaFair, PhD, "On the Future of Psychotherapy: An Interview with Emmanuel," in Common Boundary, Sep./Oct. 1986, p. 12.]." 

8.3.14. Under "Seducing Spirits" (pages 236-238). "Satan and his minions have always used methodologies to communicate to man while posing as angels of light. [They undoubtedly typically pose as angels of light to Christians, but they don't always pose as angels of light. It depends on who they are dealing with and what they are trying to accomplish.] Paul warned that the last days would be characterized by an increase in such activity and that even some who professed faith in Christ would 'depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils' (1 Timothy 4:1). One example is Jonathan Livingston Seagull, which dressed basic Hinduism in psychological, success/motivation language. Thousands of copies were sold in Christian bookstores. Unsuspecting purchasers, inspired by this charming tale, did not know that its author, Richard Bach, claimed that it had been dictated to him by a 'spirit.' So numerous and popular are these seducing spirits today - appearing on popular television talk shows [Ibid., Los Angeles Times, Dec. 5, 1986, Part V, p. 33; Terry Clifford, "Shirley MacLain's Spiritual Dance," in American Health, Jan./Feb. 1986, pp. 50-55; etc.] and even writing the script for a miniseries on national television [Los Angeles Herald Examiner, Oct. 6, 1985, Section E, pp. 1, 7, and Sep. 29, 1986, Section B, p. 8; the currently most popular is Ramtha, an alleged 35,000 year old entity that 'channels' through J. Z. Knight and has been on the Merv Griffin, Phil Donahue, and other talk shows.] - that they are being discussed in newspapers, magazines, and books. In fact they even write books. [Jane Roberts, The Seth Material (Prentice Hall, 1970) and other books in this series; see also books by Ruth Montgomery and many others.]

Demonically inspired writings have been deceiving Christians for many years." Hunt goes on to discuss God Calling. 

8.3.15. Under "A Time of Testing" (pages 238-240). "The widespread acceptance of occult powers under the guise of the 'scientific use of the imagination' could play an important role in separating the true followers of Christ from those who falsely claim to be His. It is disturbing that so many people today are more enamored with 'signs and wonders' than with truth [I heard Kenneth E. Hagin say that he agreed with Smith Wigglesworth (who, along with Hagin, was a Christian minister powerfully used in the gifts of the Spirit) that we must keep the priority on the Word of God, not on the gifts of the Spirit. If not we are liable to be led away from the truth of Christianity] and that they more readily follow a popular teacher's pleasing interpretation of the Bible than what God's Word actually says. [This is a big problem in our day! For one thing, holiness and victory over sin isn't a high priority or popular with large numbers of Christians.] When Christians are more impressed with 'miracles' and [so-called] 'results' than with adherence to sound doctrine [the truth of God's Word], the church is in serious trouble. ... 

One of the most telling characteristics of Christianity today is the lack of that awesome reverence and 'fear of God' which the Bible declares to be 'the beginning of wisdom' (Proverbs 9-10). [The Old and New Testament require God's people to fear Him in the sense that they make Him and His will top priority and dare not rebel against Him and His will.] ... The contrast between a Moses, an Isaiah, or a John on his face before God and today's Christian routinely conjuring up a mental image that 'speaks' (or church leaders teaching other techniques for allegedly carrying on a two-way conversation with God at will) only shows how far we have gotten from biblical Christianity! 

It bears repeating that just because something 'works' [brings some "results"] does not mean that it is of God, even though church growth and much that seems to be good may be achieved. [Miracles wrought by the devil will never work for ultimate good! And he does work miracles for those who will open the door for him.] When dispensed by a sincere [we need more than sincerity: we need to be actually submitted to God, His Son, His truth, and His Spirit on a full-time basis] and persuasive leader who seems to be well-qualified by apparent success, false teachings are almost irresistible. The only antidote is to [humble ourselves; we need a lot of that in our day; it's easy to leave much room for pride, and pride (with unbelief) is at the root of sin)] test every doctrine and practice by the Bible. [It needs to be said, and heard, that just because our church or group believes something, or is doing something, doesn't make it true or right. This is a gigantic problem in our day.] And whether we follow the revealed Word of God or an apparently successful extrabiblical technique will in the final analysis determine whether we pass the test that God is allowing in these last days - or fail it to our everlasting loss. ...." 

 

This is the end of this book review. May God be glorified, His will be fully accomplished, and His people be edified through this book review! In Jesus' name!

http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.

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