Will contemplative prayer unite world’s religions?

In the spiritual climate of today, a unifying mystical prayer practice fits the paradigm necessary to unite the various world religions–the contemplative prayer movement is such a practice! I believe the movement is taking many on a downward spiral that could lead to the great apostasy. For this to happen, as the Bible says, there will be “seducing spirits” who design a spirituality nearly indistinguishable from the truth. Every Christian must therefore discern whether or not the contemplative prayer movement is a deeper way of walking with God or a deception that undermines the very Gospel itself.

Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, p.184


Rick Becker writes:

How does someone know if they’re deceived, or if they’re in a church that’s been deceived and deceiving their members? We know that the only answer is for the Holy Spirit to remove the scales of deception from their eyes. Then, through studying the scriptures and by the illumination of God’s word, they’re able to identify false teachings and practices. In many cases, the solution for the deceived individual is salvation. They are false converts who have been seduced by a false gospel – they need to be born again to grasp spiritual truths (1 Corinthians 2:14). This is precisely why so many warnings concerning false teachers and their false teachings fall on deaf ears. In other cases, despite their biblical ignorance in areas and need for sound doctrine, people need to be convicted of their sin – because inevitably you’ll find that their motives for believing what is false, are impure. In this post, I offer seven signs of deception – ways to identify deception. …continue reading article…

Contrary to the doctrine you learned

Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. (Romans 16:17)

How does your church do in terms of this verse?

False teachers and teachings are flooding the visible church. We must know the Word–but it is often necessary to examine false teachings closely.

Some of the things that are infecting the visible church are The Chosen, Bible Project, 12 Step spirituality, and the Enneagram. Christians must understand the deceptive, anti-biblical meditation known as contemplative prayer. And those in Pentecostal denominations may already have encountered Bill Johnson and the New Apostolic Reformation.

Please be aware. And beware.

Be a Berean:

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)

Altered States of Consciousness in Bible, believes Bible Project’s Tim Mackie

Altered State of Consciousness: A meditative or drug-induced non-ordinary state of mind. In a religious context, a state where the seeker is drawn out of his normal thinking processes into “self-realization” or contact with what he considers the divine or divine wisdom.[1]

Tim Mackie is a pastor and co-founder of the highly influential Bible Project. You may not have heard of Mackie and Bible Project, but your kids or grandkids certainly have. Bible Project has over two million subscribers around the globe–its reach is long. This organization has produced numerous videos on biblical subjects, some of them quite good, and it is very possible your own church is using or has used them. Bible Project’s Tim Mackie has become an advocate of the deceptive and anti-biblical meditation known as contemplative prayer. This article is an attempt to warn the Body of Christ.

According to Christine A. Narloch:

Contemplative [p]rayer is not Biblical prayer at all, rather it is a type of mystical meditation leading the mind into an altered state of consciousness. It goes beyond thought, providing an experiential union with so-called God or with nature producing body sensations, feelings, images, and reflections. [2]

Contemplative prayer can addle and alter one’s theology. That being said, let’s examine the meaning Mackie is reading into a number of biblical passages from two of his sermons and see what conclusions we can draw. Let’s start with Ezekiel 8:1:

And it came to pass in the sixth year, in the sixth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I sat in mine house, and the elders of Judah sat before me, that the hand of the Lord GOD fell there upon me. (Ezekiel 8:1)

Mackie’s interpretation:

…as he’s sitting there, the Hand of Lord Yahweh comes upon him, which I’m pretty sure what he means is that his consciousness was altered in a very significant way because all of a sudden he’s looking and he’s seeing like what John saw in the heavenly temple and the one that Jacob saw in that field. It’s a human figure and they’re on fire yeah, exactly what John saw. [3] (emphasis added)

Is Ezekiel really referring to an altered state of consciousness?

Mackie makes the same claim about John in the book of Revelation.

I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, (Rev 1:10)

According to Mackie:

Notice that when John talks about being “in the Spirit,” what he’s referring to is some mode of consciousness, some state of consciousness where all of a sudden John, on the Greek island of Patmos, could be with the cosmic risen Jesus, traversing the universe in the heavenly temple, while also being on the Greek island of Patmos. (Rev 1:10) [4] (emphasis added)

Mackie also makes this assertion concerning Jacob’s experience in Gen 28:10-18:

So isn’t it interesting that here’s Jacob in some place between Beersheba and Haran and he goes to sleep, notice the altered mode of consciousness is the key here, he goes to sleep and then he has a dream, and in that dream he sees like he’s in a place where heaven and earth are the same place.they’re connected through a bridge and what he sees is the same thing that John saw a human figure that he calls Yahweh, and what Yahweh says is I am with you. [5] (emphasis added)

Mackie goes so far as to claim:

Do you see how fundamentally different Jesus and the biblical authors saw reality than most of us do? And notice that the common denominator in all of these experiences is about people’s states of consciousness. Isn’t that interesting? [6] (emphasis added)

…we actually believe altered states of consciousness are when we’re most deluded about reality and Jesus and the apostles and prophets they…actually believe that it’s precisely when we are in heightened, altered states of consciousness and particularly when we are in vulnerable states of consciousness that we are most in touch with reality as it really is. Once again, I’m not, this isn’t just rhetoric, like this is how things are. [7] (emphasis added)

Mackie states:

Now maybe not in this room, but I know that many in especially Western Protestant conservative environments when you start talking this this way, people get twitchy. And when you start talking about elevated levels of consciousness and experiencing the mystical presence of God, first of all let me respond in as non-snarky a way as I can. For someone’s who’s like, this sounds like Eastern mysticism or something like that, let us just remember, where did the Jesus Movement originate? It originated in the East. And I really don’t think Jesus was just reciting Bible verses all night long like on the mountain. I’m sure that He was reciting whole psalms and that those psalms were sending His consciousness traversing the universe with His Father in prayer.[8] (emphasis added)

Mackie clearly believes our consciousness can be altered to experience reality as it (supposedly) truly is, whether this happens via sleep or dreams or the contemplative prayer practice taught by the now deceased Trappist monk, Father Thomas Keating. Mackie states he “learned a lot about prayer” from this contemplative priest.[9]

Contemplative prayer is essentially the same thing as Eastern or New Age meditation, but is masked with Christian terms and phrases. The goal in contemplative prayer is to stop the thinking process and enter into what is known as the silence. This is accomplished by repeating a word or a phrase over and over (or focusing on the breath) until the word loses its meaning and the mind becomes void.

In this silence many wonderful deceptions can occur. How sweetly and thoroughly can the unclean spirits work in this void! Beware. The contemplative advocates are popular, with their appealing sermons and podcasts. Many are believing their teachings and their claims.

There is a biblical meditation, and we read of it in the Bible. In fact, we are instructed to do this. (Joshua 1:8) In biblical meditation, the Word is pondered and the mind is active and thinking. This can be a wonderful experience with our God.

I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways. (Psalm 119:15)

And I shall lift up my hands to Your commandments, Which I love; And I will meditate on Your statutes. (Psalm 119:48)

Some years ago, the contemplatives came up with a brilliant answer to Christians who saw the similarity between contemplative prayer and Eastern and New Age meditation. It was explained that New Age and Eastern practitioners strive to empty the mind whereas Christian contemplatives, on the other hand, seek to fill the mind with God.

This clever marketing ploy has drawn many into the deception of contemplative prayer–which as previously noted is really not prayer at all.

Finally, here Mackie puts a contemplative spin on the time Jesus took Peter, John, and James up the mountain:

These are men who have been shaped by the deep, deep daily rhythms of prayer and contemplation. And when they go up to the mountain to pray, what they’re doing is to expand their conscious awareness of the presence of [Paradise] on top of that mountain. [10] (emphasis added)

Ray Yungen notes:

This is what I am warning Christians about. Contemplative prayer is presenting a way to God identical with all the world’s mystical traditions. Christians are haplessly lulled into it by the emphasis of seeking the Kingdom of God and greater piety, yet the apostle Paul described the chuch’s end-times apostasy in the context of a mystical seduction. If this practice doesn’t fit that description, I don’t know what does. [11] (emphasis added)

Yes, there are consequences for delving into contemplative practices. The contemplative-prayer-altered-state-of consciousness can open one to demonic deception. It alters and addles one’s theology. It is long past time to take a hard look at exactly what Tim Mackie believes–and teaches–and to determine which of Mackie’s sermons and numerous Bible Project videos and podcasts are in error.

Pray for Tim Mackie.

Source Notes:

1.Kevin Reeves https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/new-booklet-tract-d-is-for-deception-the-language-of-the-new-christianity/


3. Tim Mackie, Paradise Now, Luke 23, 33:42

4. Tim Mackie, Paradise Now, Luke 23, 31:42

5. Tim Mackie, Paradise Now, Luke 23, 32:14

6. Tim Mackie, Paradise Now, Luke 23, 35:27

7. Tim Mackie, The Gathering ’22, Main Session 3, 41:38

8. Tim Mackie, Paradise Now, Luke 23, 44:39

9. Tim Mackie, Paradise Now, Luke 23, 36:46

10. Tim Mackie, The Gathering ’22, Main Session 3 45:05

11. Ray Yungen, A Time of Departing, p. 140

Retired Assemblies of God pastor astounded James River Church allowed Bill Johnson for “Week of Power”

[Reader, this AG pastor experienced the destruction that “Bethel’s minister” brought to his church. He fears that the denomination will, because of what is being allowed into AG churches, end up on the “trash heap”…]

He writes:

I am astounded that James River AG is doing this.  As as a Pastor of an AG church that was almost totally destroyed by Bethel’s minister,  it saddens my heart to see that the General Council hasn’t stepped in to discourage James River from doing this series of meetings. Or maybe they have and I just haven’t heard about it.  

I appreciate Holly Pivec’s warning. I fear that the AG is going to wind up on the same “trash heap” as the Methodists, Lutherans, Episcopals, Prebysterians, etc.  Our Pentecostal heritage is slowly being destroyed with our leadership promoting this nonsense.and they just aren’t listening. I, along with many other pastors, have written to Dr. Wood at the behest of my good friends Ray Yungen and Warren Smith, about Ruth Haley Barton coming to our General Council with her new age nonsense but they did it anyhow.  Only the Lord knows the destruction it caused to our heritage.  As well, I’ve written to Dr. Wood prior to his death, about the Purpose Driven church model and its destructive workings within the AG but, once again, they went ahead with that model of ministry.  And here we are again, with the likes of Bill Johnson and Bethel church and the NAR.  

I have kept my credentials current with the AG in spite of the fact that I’ve retired from full time ministry,  But I have to tell you that given this latest nonsense as revealed by Holly, I’m seriously considering not renewing them at the end of this year. I won’t support this leadership and the direction they are taking the AG. It’s so sad that the AG is walking a path that, unless changed by returning to the Holy Spirit’s leading, will result to the AG becoming another worn out denomination in spite of our Pentecostal heritage.  May the Lord give our leadership the wisdom that is sorely needed today.

Bible Project’s Tim Mackie believes Penal Substitutionary Atonement stems from pagan sacrifice rituals

Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16)

Concerns about Bible Project and its co-founder Tim Mackie continue to grow. The recent discovery of Mackie’s advocacy of anti-biblical meditative practices has been stunning. Bible Project has produced numerous videos on biblical subjects, some of them quite good. These can be found on YouTube and the videos are used by many churches, particularly in youth ministries. Tim Mackie has many sermons on YouTube as well. It can be stated that Mackie and Bible Project have millions of followers.

As a number of these videos attest, Mackie promotes some errant, even heretical, theology. While one of his teachings makes clear his contempt for the Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA), that same “sermon” seems to reveal his view of the PSA as a belief based on ancient pagan sacrifices to the gods. Watch the following video from 34:42 to 38:08. Mackie has been explaining the Old Testament sacrificial system.

Transcribed portions from the above video:

  • 36:10 [These] gods hate you and they’re going to kill you or send plague on your flocks or something like that, and so what you need to do is kill this animal so that it can die instead of the gods killing you.
  • 36:30 And once the god has their pound of flesh then they’ll leave you alone and be happy with you. And what we do is read that story onto the story of what’s happening here, and then we bring Jesus into it and what we end up with is a story that says, God’s perfect he’s holy and he’s perfect, you’re not so God has to kill you, he has to kill you. He needs His pound of flesh to, in the name of His justice, and so he’s gonna kill you because he’s angry at you.
  • 37:05 But instead he’s gonna kill Jesus and he takes out his anger on Jesus and then he allows you after you die to go to the good place and not the bad place, you can sing forever the praises of the God who didn’t kill you. How you guys doing? Now some of you, I’m creating a caricature, but for some of us, you might think like, yeah, isn’t that the story of Christianity, isn’t that what Christians believe?

Mackie then says:

37:56 If you read the character of God in the Old Testament you’d be able

to spot what I just said to you as a total distortion and perversion of God’s

character and of the good news and of the meaning of atonement.

Such a twisted understanding of the Scriptures. What Mackie is doing here is presenting a “social” atonement, not Penal Atonement. This can be further seen by what he says next in the video where he describes“atonement” as being more related to how we as people hurt the world when we aren’t nice to each other. Whether he realizes it or not, he is rejecting biblical atonement.

What Mackie doesn’t say about the atonement is as bad as what he does say. He does not acknowledge in this sermon (that he said was a sermon on the definition of atonement) that Jesus is God in the flesh and was a perfect sinless sacrificial lamb whose blood was shed for the atoning of sin.

And for a sermon on atonement, he neglects to include the Scripture that says: “without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).

Rather than saying any of these things, instead, he says, Jesus is “going to be the human that you and I areall created and called to be but perpetually failed to be” (44:36)

Mackie’s position on the Penal Substitutionary Atonement is right in line with author/theologian N.T. Wright. Three of Wright’s books are on Tim Mackie’s Recommended List,[1] and Wright has been interviewed by Mackie several times. In his review of Wright’s book, The Day The Revolution Began, T.C. Moore notes:

Wright bluntly critiques popular notions of the meaning of Jesus’s Cross as “pagan”—particular portrayals that center around the idea of an angry God demanding the blood sacrifice of an innocent human victim. [2]

Sound familiar?

In his denial of the PSA, Tim Mackie is following in the footsteps of N.T. Wright, The Shack author William Paul Young, and many others.

As a Bible believer recently noted online:

PSA is the one “theory of the atonement” that makes the others make sense. It is the key to all the others, which don’t work unless Jesus substituted for us in taking the Father’s wrath against sin on himself, and gave us his righteousness in place of our unrighteousness.

Because the Lord loves us, Christ willingly took our place of punishment by dying on the cross. He received the wrath that we deserve.

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

So what was Mackie’s audience thinking as he linked Penal Substitutionary Atonement to “pagan notions of like Zeus or Apollo[s]* or Dionysus”? Were there any questions or objections?

Here is another question: Is it perhaps time to ask Christians, particularly pastors and youth pastors, to examine some of Mackie’s troubling teachings?

Source Notes:

1. Tim Mackie book recommendations: bibleproject.com/tim-mackie.

2. T.C. Moore, On N.T. Wright, The Cross, and Systemic Racism.

*Sounds like an “s” at the end of the pagan deity Apollo.

Beauty of the Penal Substitutionary Atonement

In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

PSA is the one “theory of the atonement” that makes the others make sense. It is the key to all the others, which don’t work unless Jesus substituted for us in taking the Father’s wrath against sin on himself, and gave us his righteousness in place of our unrighteousness.

His victory (Christus Victor) was in achieving full atonement as our substitute. His example/moral influence means nothing if he didn’t achieve full atonement, and take our place to do so.

Other theories are so weak that they cannot explain the Biblical witness to what atonement is, let alone how it was achieved. Several of them seem to be formulated as a way of avoiding the full implications of PSA.

But how anyone can read Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and NOT find PSA is beyond me. If that is what the Bible says, then any problems with accepting it are down to the reader, not the Bible.

(HT Jeremy Leffler)

Isaiah 52:13-53:12–

Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and [fn]greatly exalted. (Isaiah 52:13)

Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men. v14

Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand. v15

Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? (Isaiah 53:12)

For He grew up before Him like a tender [fn]shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should [fn]be attracted to Him. v2

He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of [fn]sorrows and acquainted with [fn]grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. v3

Surely our [fn]griefs He Himself bore,
And our [fn]sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
[fn]Smitten of God, and afflicted. v4

But He was [fn]pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our [fn]well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed. v5

All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To [fn]fall on Him. v6

He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth. v7

By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the [fn]living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? v8

His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. v9

But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, [fn]putting Him to grief;
If [fn]He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His[fn]offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the [fn]good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand. v10

As a result of the [fn]anguish of His soul,
He will see [fn]it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities. v11

Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out [fn]Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors. v12

Christ took our punishment!

and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. (1 John 2:2)

Will Assemblies of God listen?

Bill Johnson and Randy Clark’s ‘Week of Power’ to be Held at Flagship Assemblies of God Church Raising Questions About the Denomination’s Stance on the NARHolly Pivec Headline

Holly Pivec writes:

What makes Johnson’s and Clark’s forthcoming appearance at James River Church more curious is the AG’s Constitution and Bylaws (last updated in August 2021) provide multiple means of ensuring that “unscriptural” and “disapproved doctrines and practices”—including the end-time teachings mentioned above—are not taught in AG churches, including warning AG ministers that they jeopardize their AG credentials if they persist in teaching those doctrines.

…continue reading article

When the contemplatives found Alcoholics Anonymous a fertile garden

I am still sort of shell shocked about The Bible Project Tim Mackie’s unquestioning endorsement of contemplative guru Thomas Keating. You can read about that here. This is not my first rodeo with Thomas Keating. Fifteen years ago Keating and Richard Rohr zeroed in on those in 12 Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

As I wrote back then:

Much like farmers kneeling in rich, fertile soil, Richard Rohr, Thomas Keating, and other contemplatives are tending a meditative garden that has already produced much fruit. There are now 12 Step groups for everything from overeating to sexual addiction. Literally millions of people have already experienced meditation as part of their 12 Step program. … continue reading article

Tyler Staton, Ruth Haley Barton, and contemplative prayer

Below are statements by Tyler Staton, author of Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools, excerpted from a video interview. The fact that he was under the teaching of Ruth Haley Barton sheds light on why his book is drenched with contemplative sources, references, and practitioners. You can read about The Bible Project Tim Mackie’s disturbing foreword to the book here. More information concerning the the book can be found here.

According to Staton:

I’ve spent the last three years attending an incredible program, called the Transforming Center. It’s taught by a woman named Ruth Haley Barton… (19:27 in video)

Yeah, so Ruth and her teaching have been huge in my life. They’ve really given me a larger toolbox for accessing the power of the Spirit. You know, the desert Mothers and Fathers would be the earliest Christian kind of apostolic figures after the Bible … their primary access point to the power of the Holy Spirit was not like the chorus for their favorite worship song. It was silence. (20:09 in video)

I would not describe myself as a contemplative. I would describe myself as a charismatic contemplative. (24:53 in video)

So, who is Ruth Haley Barton? Barton runs the contemplative Transforming Center. She has shared her teachings with many, including the Assemblies of God denomination, and of course young pastors like Tyler Staton.

If you want to know more about this influential woman read Ruth Haley Barton & Contemplative Corruption Part 2

The Word Like Fire has received many many angry emails (and many supportive ones) concerning articles on TWLF warning about Tim Mackie’s teachings. This is not an attack on Mackie, Staton, or Barton. This is a warning.

Do we know the Word? How discerning are we as members of the Body of Christ?

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. (2 Peter 2:1)

Our hope is these links in the article will serve to inform you more fully about these influential people and their teachings.