Emergent Mysticism: A Biblical Appraisal of the Mosaic Congress held at the Mosaic Church in Fairland, Johannesburg (4 – 5 Sept. 2009)
The usual suspects spoke at the Mosaic Congress namely; Ron Martoia (USA), Stephan Joubert, Johan Geyser, Trevor Hudson, Gavin Sklar-Chik, Gys Du Plessis, Willem Nicol, Rex van Vuuren, Annemarie Paulin-Campell
The new-old magical way to get in touch with God –
“be still,” “be quiet,” “shut up,” “shhhhhhh”
The well-known song “Silence is Golden may have been a hit on the singles UK charts in 1967, but the refrain “Silence is Truth” has hit the Christian Church like a tsunami, carrying with it in it’s destructive wake many unsuspecting Christians. One of the major contributors to this utterly devastating “silent” storm is the Mosaic Church in Fairland, Johannesburg.
As an introduction to my critique on the Mosaic Congress I would like to draw your attention to certain words and phrases that all the keynote speakers used throughout their presentations. A word that kept popping up like a well-watered toadstool in each of their corpulently worded lectures was the word “silence.”Bearing in mind that most of these speakers’ mentors and gurus have drunk from the wells of Buddhism (i.e. Thomas Merton, Thomas Keating etc.) it is no surprise that their entire spiritual journey revolves mainly around Buddhist spiritualities and not the cross of Jesus Christ. In fact, the only time they referred to the word “cross” was when they endearingly spoke of St John of the Cross, a Desert Father who coined the phrase “Silence is the first language of God.”
I attended the two-day Congress with Sarel van der Merwe and couldn’t help thinking what Paul would have said about the absence of any good and solid preaching on the cross, especially in the light of his own statement: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2) Paul was saying in effect: “I have not come to you parading my own wisdom but to present to you the power and wisdom of God, which is the cross of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Was St. John of the Cross’ maxim something new and original? Hardly! The following survey will prove that it originated with Eastern religions and the New Age.
The significance of silence in Eastern religions, the New Age and Shamanism Buddhism
In one of the many anecdotes on the life of Gautama Buddha (born circa 563 BC) it is told that a philosopher once visited Buddha and asked him: “Without words, without the wordless, will you tell me the truth?” Buddha remained silent. After a while the philosopher rose up gently, made a solemn bow and thanked Buddha saying: “With your loving kindness, I have cleared away all my delusions and entered the true path.” (1) This anecdote describes how Buddha sought the essence of truth through silence in his relentless and endless quest for the truth. Cognitive processes such as rational thinking, doctrinal or dogmatic studies and debates, the discernment or evaluation of facts and/or postulates played no part in Buddha’s quest for the truth. During the Mosaic Congress it was resplendently aggravating to hear again and again that wisdom is not found in dogmas, doctrines or propositions but in a way of life, a way of life that one enters into by following the Sage, Jesus Christ.
The path Buddha preferred was completely embedded in “mauna” (in English “silence”) which he hoped to achieve in seclusion and solitude. It is very interesting to note that the word muni (meaning “hermit” or“sage”)is derived from mauna. Buddha was also known as Sakyamuni, the gracefully silent one or sage from the Sakya clan. Please make a mental note of the word “sage” because it pops up frequently in Stephan Joubert’s paper titled “Being a Radical Pilgrim and Prophet” which I intend to critique later in a separate comment. There are many stories and discourses in Buddhism that are attributed to Buddha himself and in nearly all of them Truth and Silence are intrinsically and inseparably linked. In fact, whenever Truth is mentioned in relation to Buddha it is always said in regard to Silence, so much so that it is believed that Silence in the presence of Buddha equals Truth. Fr. Chandrakanthan who earned his doctorate in theology at St. Paul University, Ottawa, where he also teaches Eastern Religions, wrote the following based on a talk he gave in July, 1986, at the Christian Meditation Centre, London.
Buddha’s Silence was not wordlessness or noiselessness. It had a transforming power, permeating and filling the atmosphere around him with such intensity that people seated at his presence experienced “the ineffable and the inexplicable.” His Silence had no movement, yet people around him moved closer to the Truth just by being in his presence, permeated and filled by the effulgence of his joyous stillness. His Silence was contagious. It was like the unseen powers of a magnetic field or the invisible sound waves that travel in the atmosphere.
The close affinity that is said to enjoin Truth with Silence is not uncommon in the mystical traditions of other religions including Christianity [the “Christianity” to which the author refers is of course Roman Catholicism – my own parenthesis]. Whether it be in the Sufism of Islam or in the Hasidim of Judaism, silence is always referred to as the prerequisite for an interior experience of the divine. Silence is often eulogized as the language of the heart. Buddha’s Silence reveals to us the nature and significance of an ideal form of silence. This becomes more evident when we contrast the mauna with our ordinary experience of silence. (Emphasis added)
The Hindu poet and teacher, Dryanadev (A.D. 1290) once wrote in his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita: “Your true praise consists in perfect silence.” God, he also said, does not put on any other ornament except silence.
In the Atharva Veda of Hinduism the following is said about silence.
He cannot be seen by the eye, and words cannot reveal Him. He cannot be reached by the senses, or by austerity or sacred actions. By the grace of wisdom and purity of mind, He can be seen, indivisible, in the silence of contemplation. This invisible Atman can be seen by the mind wherein the five senses are resting.
In the Maitri Upanishad it is said:
There is something beyond our mind which abides in silence within our mind. It is the Supreme Mystery beyond thought. Let one’s mind and one’s subtle body rest upon that and not rest on anything else.
Adi Shankaracharya said:
Silence is the first door to spiritual eminence.
Sri Chinmoy tells a story about a pious man who studies the scriptures devotedly, and likes to discuss philosophy with a scholar who comes to visit him. They earnestly discuss the path to spiritual liberation, but deep in his heart, the man knows this endless talk is not bringing him any closer to attaining his goal. Now, it happens that the man has a little caged bird in his room, and he likes to hear it sing. But one morning he notices the bird is not singing at all, it has fallen completely silent. He speaks to the bird, tries to coax it, but it makes not a sound. Eventually the man opens the cage door and the bird, in an instant, escapes, flies out of the cage, through the open window of the room, and soars into the infinite freedom of the sky.
The bird taught his master an important spiritual lesson. Silence liberates!
We can talk endlessly, argue, discuss, debate. But the real truth of things, we discover in silence. Eventually we have to hush the mind and its chatter, discover that vastness in our hearts and soar into it.
Franz Kafka said:
You do not need to do anything; you do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You do not even need to listen; just wait. You do not even need to wait; just become still, quiet and solitary and the world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked. It has no choice. It will roll in ecstasy at your feet.
Alice Bailey tells us that Sagittarius is called in some ancient books “the sign of silence”. She goes on to tell us that the lesson of Sagittarius is “restraint of speech through control of thought.”
‘Right use of thought, restraint of speech, and consequent harmlessness on the physical plane, result in liberation; for we are held in the human unit, we are imprisoned to the planet not by some outside force that holds us there, but by what we ourselves have said and done.’
(Practices concerned with communication with the spirit world)
In “An Encyclopedia of Shamanism Volume 2” on pages 448 and 449 the following insightful facts are given on the spiritual significance of silence.
It is the wisdom of shamanic peoples to leave in silence the things we cannot talk about clearly in words. There are states of being and numinous experiences that are central to shamanic altered states of consciousness and shamanic healing experiences which defy description through words.
Choosing not to talk about sacred experiences is a way to contain and protect the energy. Though powerful, the energy of the sacred is illusive and easily contaminated. Silence is both a form of protecting the sacred and a means by which to hold the sacred while the nonrational aspects of a sacred experience are integrated.
Silence is often a necessary prerequisite to having an experience of the sacred. This is in part the reason for the traditional vision quest that lasts for three to four days in silence. The vision quest is time designated for silence in the hope that a message from spirit will be “heard.”
Silence is both a way to open to the sacred and to integrate the numinous aspects of sacred experiences. Silence is one of four universal healing salves (storytelling, singing, dance) employed by indigenous peoples to maintain health and well-being. Discomfort with silence, or any of the four healing salves, indicates a state of soul loss. (Emphasis added)
The Word of God
Throughout the Bible God makes it abundantly clear that the preaching of His Word (the Word of Truth as Jesus referred to it in John 17:17) was and still is His way of making Himself known to mankind. The written and spoken Word of God, as we learn from Paul in Romans 10:17, is the mouthpiece, if you will, that produces true faith in the lives of those who obediently and wholeheartedly submit to it’s authority. In fact, Paul emphatically states that no-one can truly know or get acquainted with God unless they call upon His Name (entreat Him according to everything His Name represents) and no-one can call upon His Name (in this particular way) without someone proclaiming or preaching His Word, and no-one can preach His Word without having been called to do so. Their sound (the spoken words of these called and sent out preachers and not their “silence” or “shut ups” or “shhhhhhhs”) went out into all the earth (Romans 10:13-18).
Imagine Peter at Pentecost, placing his index finger in front of his mouth and saying “Shhhhhhh! silence is the first language of God,” and then bidding his audience to sit down with him in silence to experience the presence of God. Let’s do a quick survey. Do you think three thousand souls would have been saved that day if Peter, who had been in touch with God (through Jesus Christ) nearly every day of his life, had listened to Ron Martoia who spoke more than thirty five minutes (not in silence but in well articulated and yet unbiblical sounds) on the silly assumption that “silence is the first language of God?” You must be joking! If we were to accept St. John of the Cross’s and Ron Martoias’s silly notion that “silence is the first language of God” we would have had to rewrite the very first verse in the Bible: “In the beginning God shhhhhhh. . .d.” Not even Jesus Christ, the Word that became flesh, deemed it necessary to practice “silence” in order to “hear” the so-called “first language of God.” He said:
John 15: 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
Johan 18:20 Jesus answered him, I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue and in the temple [area], where the Jews [habitually] congregate (assemble); and I have spoken nothing secretly.
When Jesus said “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32) He never intended the truth to be known through the practice of silence or quietness or stillness. The word “ginosko” means to perceive, understand, to attain knowledge of Him and his teachings through his spoken and written Word which is the Truth (John 17”17). We already have his Truth at our disposal in his written Word and therefore do not need to practice certain techniques so as to learn the truth or to enter into God’s presence. This is a far cry from the belief that the Buddha imparted truth merely through his silent presence and that he only had to look into the eyes of his devotees to impart all the teaching and wisdom that can ever be imparted to all those who are ready to receive it. I pretty much believe that this will be the way Antichrist is going to impart his knowledge (“truth”) to the world.
WHEN WILL WE SEE HIM?
He has not yet declared His true status, and His location is known to only a very few disciples. One of these has announced that soon the Christ will acknowledge His identity and within the next two months will speak to humanity through a worldwide television and radio broadcast. His message will be heard inwardly (silently), telepathically, by all people in their own language.From that time, with His help, we will build a new world. (Emphasis and parenthesis added)
Jesus also said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” It evidently does not mean that we ought to hear an audible voice, but simply that his disciples follow Him in accordance with his commandments (his teachings, dogmas). They have come to know and discern his voice from other counterfeit voices by following his will as expounded in his decrees (written Word; His Truth).
2 John verse 9 Anyone who runs on ahead [of God] and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ [who is not content with what He taught] does not have God; but he who continues to live in the doctrine (teaching) of Christ [does have God], he has both the Father and the Son.
I sincerely hope tofind adequate time to write more detailed comments on each of the speakers’ presentations at the Mosaic Congress, proving to you that many well-known and distinguished clergy in South Africa are already head over heels part and parcel of a full-blown last days apostasy and sadly many, I repeat, many South Africans and especially our youth are being drawn into this godless maelstrom of an end time apostasy.
(1) Paul Reps, (ed.), Zen Flesh, Zen Bones (London: Penguin Books, reprinted 1982), pp. 119-120