Wholebrain Christianity

Wholebrain Christianity

Gys du Plessis

Gys du Plessis

The phrase never the twain shall meet, as Rudyard Kipling used it in his Barrack-room ballads, 1892: “Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,” has become something of a non sequitur ever since post-modern thinkers have been trying to marry spirituality and science. It is alarming to see how many people, among whom are many Christians, have been hoodwinked to believe that Eastern mysticism is scientifically verifiable. In fact, there is a continued and concerted global effort to corroborate paranormal and spiritual experiences, induced by meditation and contemplative disciplines such as contemplative prayer, by means of the “scientific” Trojan horse. You may find it thought-provoking to know that the Dalai Lama has a keen interest in science and especially in the field of neuroscience. Sharon Begley, author of the book “Train Your Mind Change Your Brain” writes:

Dalai Lama

Every year or so the head of Tibetan Buddhism invites a group of scientists to his home in Dharamsala, in Northern India, to discuss their work and how Buddhism might contribute to it.

In 2004 the subject was neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change its structure and function in response to experience. The following are vignettes adapted from “Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain,” which describes this emerging area of science:

The Dalai Lama, who had watched a brain operation during a visit to an American medical school over a decade earlier, asked the surgeons a startling question: Can the mind shape brain matter? [Can you change or reshape your brain using mind over matter techniques?]

Over the years, he said, neuroscientists had explained to him that mental experiences reflect chemical and electrical changes in the brain. When electrical impulses zip through our visual cortex, for instance, we see; when neurochemicals course through the limbic system we feel.

But something had always bothered him about this explanation, the Dalai Lama said. Could it work the other way around? That is, in addition to the brain giving rise to thoughts and hopes and beliefs and emotions that add up to this thing we call the mind, maybe the mind also acts back on the brain to cause physical changes in the very matter that created it. If so, then pure thought would change the brain’s activity, its circuits or even its structure. (You can read the article here).

The entire field of quantum physics is focused on bridging the gap between the paranormal and science. Several books have been written in a relatively short time to prove that science and religion are integrally related and many of them were written by persons who are Buddhists or at least have Buddhist leanings and affiliations. In the introduction to B Allan Wallace’s, book, Contemplative Science: Where Buddhism and Neuroscience Converge, we read the following:

B.AlanWallace-ContemplativeScienceSCIENCE HAS LONG TREATED RELIGION as a set of personal beliefs that have little to do with a rational understanding of the mind and the universe. However, B. Alan Wallace, a respected Buddhist scholar, proposes that the contemplative methodologies of Buddhism and of Western science are capable of being integrated into a single discipline: contemplative science. . . .

Just as behaviourism, psychology, and neuroscience have all shed light on the cognitive processes that enable us to survive and flourish, contemplative science offers a groundbreaking perspective for expanding our capacity to realize genuine well-being. It also forges a link between the material world and the realm of the subconscious that transcends the traditional science-based understanding of the self. (Emphasis added)

Dave Hunt in his book “Occult Invasion” says on pages 60 and 61.

While the development of transpersonal psychologies in the early 1970s brought an almost grudging admission that the realm of the spirit was real,'[1] there was a reluctance to admit that science had no jurisdiction over it. Science continued to be regarded as the only way to evaluate the nonphysical as well as the physical. We had been conditioned to revere a “scientific explanation” for all phenomena.

Many of those involved in the New Age were only too eager to pretend they had “scientific” support. When TM (one form of yoga) fell flat as the”Spiritual Regeneration Movement,” Maharishi Mahesh Yogi changed its name to “The Science of Creative Intelligence.” With that new and deceitful name, TM became a success worldwide. One of the most ancient religious practices in Hinduism and Buddhism is now widely accepted in the West as the science of yoga. [2] (Emphasis added).

Indeed, much of today’s mysticism which the West inherited from the East was introduced to Westerners under the guise of science. The late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, founder of Transcendental Meditation and guru to The Beatles, claimed his techniques gave practitioners access to the “quantum field of cosmic consciousness.” In a tribute to Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Deepak Chopra, author, Sirius radio host and founder of The Alliance for a New Humanity, wrote here:

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi He did not assert his own divinity. He credited his entire career to his own master, Guru Dev. He seemed indifferent to the cult of personality and the aura of superstition surrounding gurus, which includes the notion that they have perfect control over mind and body and hold the secret of immortality. But deeper than that, Maharishi wasn’t a religious figure. Although he had taken vows as a monk, he brought a technique to the West, Transcendental Meditation, that was entirely secular and even scientific. Indeed, his lasting memory will probably be that he convinced Westerners of the physical and mental benefits of a purely mechanical non-religious approach to consciousness. (Emphasis added)

It is obvious that Deepak Chopra was doing his level best to convince Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s followers in the West that his brand of Yoga was “entirely secular and even scientific.

Manie Bosman

Manie Bosman

Most tragically, many well-known Christians are doing the very same thing and deceiving multitudes. Stephan Joubert who vehemently denies that he is an Emergent Church devotee and advocate continually allow “Christians” to promote Eastern mysticism and Emergent Church doctrines on his site. One of the more recent contributions to his site is a video directed by one of Stephan Joubert’s close friends and affiliates, Dries Lombaard, who interviewed Manie Bosman on the subject of “Christian, understand your brain.” Manie Bosman is Founder and CEO of the Strategic Leadership Institute. He is a leadership development consultant specializing in the emerging field of neuro-leadership. Based in Pretoria, South Africa, Manie has more than 18 years of international experience in cross-cultural interaction, diversity management, change management, public speaking, communication, corporate training and team development. He holds a Masters of Arts in Organizational Leadership and believes that effective leadership is the key determiner of success in any venture, group or organization. (The video is in Afrikaans and can be viewed here). Of particular interest is that Bosman calls his organization the “Strategic Leadership Institute.” Maharishi Mahesh Yogi established a similar organization called Maharishi Institute of Management to give his religion (Hinduism) some scientific credence whilst promoting Eastern mystic practices such as Transcendental Meditation. Lo and behold Bosman also uses his organization to promote Eastern meditation. In one of his articles on neuroplasticity he says the following:

Bad habits could also be the result of another neural process. Overindulging in coffee, overeating, gambling, or spending too much time on the internet are often a form of addiction to the effects of dopamine and other neurotransmitters which are released in your brain whenever you’re enjoying these excesses. Take the pleasure you derive from opening your Facebook home page, for example. As you anticipate the pleasure of seeing a message from a friend, your brain responds by releasing dopamine into its pleasure centers. This gives you an experience of pleasure even before you found the message. To your surprise you open your page and see an student-days picture in which you’re tagged –  even a larger surge of dopamine in response to this unexpected surprise. However, if there’s no tagged picture and the expected message is not there your dopamine levels drop considerably, causing a sensation similar to physical pain in your brain. So you wait a few minutes and the whole process repeats itself . . .

Trying to quit these addictions is extremely difficult because your brain still craves the “high”. It is therefore much more effective to find another source of neural pleasure such as exercise, meditation, or even simple breathing exercises. Deliberately practice these new behaviours until they become “good” habits which would then have replaced the old undesirable habits

So the good news is that change is possible. Studies in neuroscience have shown conclusively that the old belief that you “can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, is simply not true. In fact, our brains can change and adapt throughout our lives. This phenomena – known as neuroplasticity – allows the brain’s neurons (nerve cells) to continuously adapt and adjust to form new neural pathways. In other words, while the neural responses which cause us to behave in a certain manner might be automated, these neurological pathways can be changed. So changing our behaviour is possible on a conscious and neurological level. (Read here).

The million dollar question is: How do you marry science and religion or spirituality, as they refer to it today? How do you attribute non-physical human experiences such as pity, empathy, compassion, love, hatred, anger, honesty, dishonesty, hope, despondency, respect, disrespect, obedience, disobedience, justice, righteousness (moral issues) to science? How do you measure them scientifically? It is believed that there are mainly two preconditions to achieve this:

  1. You must accept the idea that all wisdom and knowledge come from God. It means that Christians should never shy from the empirical studies (especially in the field of neuroscience) of non-Christians and even from people of other religions because they allegedly can learn and benefit from them. No one will deny that Christians have benefitted immensely from the vast advancements in the medical and scientific fields (especially in the field of computer technology. However, it becomes rather dicey when Christians believe they may learn from “sciences falsely so-called” (1 Timothy 6:20). What are these “sciences falsely so-called?” As soon as you move from the physical to the metaphysical realm and think you can study both equally sufficient with science, you are deceived. How do you, for instance, prove scientifically that man does not only consist of a body but that it (the body) is only a container of the real you – a soul and a spirit. Similarly, how do you prove scientifically that man’s spirit is dead until he or she is quickened or regenerated by the Holy Spirit at the spiritual rebirth? These are the things that make the Bible so unique; no other book, scientific or religious, can boast equality with the Bible when knowledge of the paranormal comes into play. Anyone who dares to suggest in the very slightest that the Bible is insufficient in its knowledge of the metaphysical world and therefore we need to tap into the wisdom of “sciences falsely so-called” are exposing themselves to the dangers of deep deception.
  2. You must integrate the physical and the non-physical entities of man. Soul and spirit need to be integrated with a physical organ such as the brain. Is your mind and brain the same thing? When Christians say they have the mind of Christ, do they actually mean they have the brain of Christ? We will be looking into this in more detail as we go along.

Interestingly enough, Gys du Plessis pleaded for both the above preconditions in his presentation “Wholebrain Christianity.” Here’s what he said:

The contemplative life, we do that from our brains and its got to be seen in an holistic way because for the last 400 years medicine and science had been stuck in a rigid fixed brain where the anatomy cannot change. The common wisdom in medicine and in science was that this brain after childhood, the only change after childhood, is this slow decay into ageing. The brain could not heal anything that died . . . It was doomed and deemed to be that way for life. Nothing could change, leave alone help a brain to perform better or to improve or to change anything. It was this rigid organ for 400 years. The metaphors used for this brain was that of a machine. Descartes, the French philosopher in the 17th century – I wish I could get hold of him today; it would be nice to strangle him . . . just before death sets in (Gys du Pleesis obviously needs a new brain, one that enables him to love others instead of wanting to murder them) – but he did us so many favours but so many disfavours . . . Descartes said “I think therefore I am.” He described the brain as a pump with pipes and that stuck. . . . So we were stuck for almost 400 years with this rigid [machine of a pump with pipes] and this was in stark contrast, so contrary to what Jesus came and taught. In his ministry, in his healing, in his delivery it was all about transformation; it was all about growth; it was all about restoration. So, it is if Jesus knew much more about the brain at that stage . . . than medicine and science have known over the last 400 years odd. But it’s changed; in the last 25 years; dramatic changes have taken place in the discoveries, in research on the brain. Numerous wonderful people that really have digged (sic) deep into this and I have mentioned a couple of resources there. And, you know where’s the challenge? If I do these talks with doctors I meet such a lot of resistance. They feel like a fundamentalistic (sic) congregation somewhere in a secluded village. . . . Where is Christianity with this, with all the new knowledge, the new wisdom, the new facts? . . .

The worst thing, when I speak to Christians, is that, and I mention some of these researches, “oh yes, but he’s not a believer, that researcher. He’s not a Christian.” Then I think to myself: I don’t understand this. All knowledge, all wisdom comes from God. It’s like Jesus . . . Let’s envision Jesus telling the story of the parable of the Good Samaritan in this way: There’s this man lying. Passed comes the Good Samaritan and he reckons to the Samaritan, “no! you can’t help me. You’re not appropriate. God wouldn’t like to use a Samaritan to save me.” Why would God not use scientists who are not confessing believers not to change us and to tell us what this is all about? The whole idea of the Good Samaritan parable, surely, was a love intention. I still have to meet a scientist that doesn’t love science. There’s a love intention in the parable, proceeding into what? – a deed and action that will help mankind, a deed of respect. . . . That’s what science is all about.

Do all wisdom and all knowledge come from God? Hardly (James 3:15; 1 Timothy 4:1).

Gys du Plessis said a few strange things we need to evaluate in the light of God’s Word.

  • So, if “it is as if Jesus knew much more about the brain . . . than medicine and science have known over the last 400 years odd” how were people transformed, delivered and restored during those 400 years when the brain was defined as merely a machine with pumps? If the transformative neuroplastic powers of the brain were only discovered by numerous wonderful non-Christians that have really dug (sic) deep into this in the last 25 years, how were the people transformed, delivered and restored in the last 1975 odd years since Jesus gained much more knowledge about the brain? I really pity the wretched people who lived in Old Testament times who knew nothing about the neuroplasticity of the brain and its capabilities to change or transform itself. Could it be possible that some of the people in those unfortunate years when so little was known about the brain were transformed without having to know that the brain was not just a machine with pumps but a wonderful organ with neuroplastic capabilities to transform, deliver and restore people? Transformation in the Bible always, let me repeat that always concerns a radical change from unrighteousness to righteousness and a complete translocation or transference from the powers of darkness to the Kingdom of HIS beloved Son (Colossians 1:13). The question remains whether this radical change is the result of knowledge you gain from the research some wonderful non-Christian scientists performed on the brain and of God’s supposed utilization of their knowledge to save people? Or is it the result of faith according to what Scripture says it ought to be (John 7:38)
  • Was it Jesus’ knowledge of the brain at that stage that enabled him to transform, deliver and restore people or was He able to do all those wonderful things because He is God? (Mark 2:9). What kind of knowledge did He have to acquire to earn the accolade “it is if Jesus knew more about the brain at that stage . . . than medicine and science have known over the last 400 years odd” when He, the Creator of all things, made the brain to perform its relevant functions? What are these functions? The general idea amongst most of today’s neuroscientists is that mind and consciousness emanate from the cells in the brain; that it is the seat of your emotions and presents the full gamut of your morals, good and bad. Having reached the conclusion in neuroscientific research that the brain can change, it allegedly also has the capacity to change a person’s nature from, for instance, a wicked person to a compassionate and caring one. And how is this accomplished? Well, of course, through mystic contemplative practices which we do from the brain, according to Gys du Plessis. In one of the books he recommends in his presentation, The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force by Jeffrey Schwartz MD, the idea that intelligence is resident in the brain’s cells and membranes is put forward as follows:

Of all the thousands of pages and millions of words devoted to the puzzle of the mind and the brain, to the mystery of how something as sublime and insubstantial as thought or consciousness can emerge from three pounds of gelatinous pudding inside the skull, my favorite statement of the problem is not that of one of the great philosophers of history, but of a science fiction writer. In a short story first published in the science and sci-fi magazine Omni in 1991, the Hugo-winning author Terry Bisson gets right to the heart of the utter absurdity of the situation: that an organ made from basically the same material ingredients (nucleated, carbon-based, mitochondria-filled cells) as, say, a kidney, is able to generate this ineffable thing called mind. Bisson’s story begins with this conversation between an alien commander and a scout who has just returned from Earth to report the results of his reconnaissance:

“They’re made out of meat.”

“Meat?” . . .

They’re meat all the way through.”

“No brain?”

“Oh, there is a brain all right. It’s just that the brain is made out of meat.”

“So … what does the thinking?”

“You’re not understanding, are you? The brain does the thinking. The meat.”

“Thinking meat! You’re asking me to believe in thinking meat!”

“Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you beginning to get the picture, or do I have to start all over?

It is this kind of sci-fi nonsense that proves beyond any doubt that so-called “scientists” who busy themselves with “a science so falsely called” are doing exactly what the Bible says they would do: “But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” (1 Corinthians 2:14). The natural man (unregenerate man) can only discern natural things; his ability to discern goes only so far as the “meat” and no further. Things that pertain to the soul and the spirit cannot be appraised or assessed scientifically with the result that they are foolishness to them. The fact of the matter is that man consists not only of a blob of meat but he also has a non-physical soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12). If man was created in the image of God in righteousness and holiness of truth (Ephesians 4:24) and the “meaty” brain was able to produce these spiritual attributes in its cells and neurons, then God is nothing but a big “meaty” brain. Dave Hunt says in his book Occult invasion (pp. 54-55)

Thoughts were presumed to originate in the brain as the result of chemical and electrical processes. Nothing nonphysical could exist. Contrary to common sense, man was the prisoner of whatever his brain cells (for purely mechanistic reasons) “thought.” This incredible “fact” of science was taught throughout the academic world.

The great hope was that the laws of physics and chemistry, applied to the brain, would explain human personality. That would allow psychiatrists to manipulate the brain like a mechanic does an engine. Thus all inappropriate behavior could be eliminated. There would be no more wars or crime and this world would become a rhapsody of kindness, pleasure, and prosperity, the Eden no one had believed in.

It was impossible, however, to suppress the evidence that, instead of producing thought, brain activity is a result of thought. Inasmuch as thoughts originate independently of the brain, they must exist outside the physical dimension. That fact is self-evident on the basis of the many thoughts for which there is no physical counterpart nor any physical stimulus: truth, justice, holiness, perfection, God, ad infinitum. Indeed, consciousness itself exists outside the realm of science. Michael Polanyi argued:

The most striking feature of our own existence is our sentience [consciousness]. The laws of physics and chemistry include no conception of sentience, and any system wholly determined by these [physical laws] must be insentient [i.e. without consciousness].

It may be to the interests of science to turn a blind eye on this central fact of the universe, but it is certainly not in the interest of truth. [3]

No matter how “intelligent” a computer may be, it can only do what it has been programmed to do. Nor can the brain, though far more complex than any computer, think on its own. If thought were the result of neural activity in the brain, we would all be helplessly dragged along by chemical/electrical processes determining our thoughts and even our morals and emotions. No rational person can accept that hypothesis because we demonstrate our power of choice, and thus control of our brain cells, countless times each day. There is a “ghost” in the machine. The human soul and spirit do the thinking and use the brain to communicate these thoughts to the body and through the body to others. (Emphasis added) [4]

  • Do all knowledge and wisdom come from God, even that of unregenerate man? We’ve already seen that the natural man cannot appreciate the things of the spirit because he is completely inept to understand it and indeed regards it as foolishness. What kind of knowledge and wisdom in the spiritual realm can he thus impart to the Christian? It can only be described as a foolish knowledge and wisdom and as a matter of fact, it is precisely what the Bible calls it: “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20). (Emphasis added).Gys du Plessis tries very hard to substantiate his statement that “all knowledge and wisdom come from God” by means of the parable of the Good Samaritan. The irony is that he falls into the same trap as the scientists who look only as far as the “meat.” Jesus definitely did not tell the parable of the Good Samaritan to teach his audience that all knowledge and wisdom come from God. If that had been the case He would have had to admit that the wisdom of this world which is foolishness with God was also from God (1 Corinthians 3:19), which is absurd. How can a thing that is foolishness with God come from God? Ah, but the bedrock of pragmatism is “love.” If your intentions are pure which is to serve mankind in love, then you cannot debunk any kind of scientific knowledge and wisdom. “That’s what science is all about, according to Gys du Plessis. In that case the atom bomb that wiped two cities from the face of the earth was also an act of love. Love puts the stamp of approval on any kind of knowledge and wisdom, despite the fact that it is often foolishness with God, especially in the realm of the spirit.

Is the scientific evidence that physical changes take place in the brain through external stimuli or the environment the empirical proof that the brain can also transform a person morally and spiritually? Gys du Plessis seems to think so because right at the end of his presentation he made a “heartrending” (or is it “brain-rending”) plea when he said, “Let’s get God back into the brain.”

  • Of whom is Gys du Plessis speaking – believers and unbelievers or only believers? If he is referring to believers only the question arises: Where does God take up residence in a repentant sinner when he or she is regenerated – in the spirit or the brain? It cannot be the brain because Gys du Plessis made a plea that we should put God back in the brain which, of course, implies that He is of yet not in the believer’s brain. From whence must God then be transported in order to be put back into the brain – from somewhere outside the believer or from within his/her spirit? If God needs to be transported from outside the believer to be put back in the brain then the “believer” is in reality no believer because Jesus once said that if you do not have his Spirit living within your innermost being (your spirit) you do not belong to Him (Romans 8:9). If He is to be transported from the believer’s spirit to his brain it allso poses somewhat of a problem because Gys du Plessis asserted that the soul and the spirit of man reside in the brain. If that is the Gospel truth then surely you do not need to put God back in the brain because He is already there where the spirit supposedly is, that is, in the brain. These are his words:

My biggest desire is that you just maybe take away the fact that we have to seek the Holy Spirit in the brain because that is where the Holy Spirit, where God belongs, where mind and soul is and where God belongs. The brain is the seat of the Holy Spirit. (Emphasis added)

  • If non-Christians are included in du Plessis’ plea to get God back into the brain, his entire supposition that the brain is the seat of the soul and the spirit of man falls flat. He knows as well as I do, unless he believes Trevor Hudson who says Jesus is in everything and everything is in Jesus and we are already living in a Christ-shaped world, that the non-Christian’s spirit is dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). They simply do not have the Spirit of God residing and living in their spirits; they are dead and that is precisely why Jesus once said to the man who first wanted to bury his dad before he would follow Him: “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” (Matthew 8:22). If the brain is the seat of the spirit and Holy Spirit, then the non-Christian must be brain-dead because his spirit is “dead in trespasses and sins” and will eventually be buried by their own dead.

Gys du Plessis continued his plea by saying:

Let’s change our perspective. I want to urge you as wholebrain Christians; how can we be wholebrain Chirstians? We have to embrace a brain that changes itself. 1 Corinthians 2:16 says that who knows the mind of the Lord, but we have the mind of Christ. That’s what Paul says there. . . . This is surely what the spiritual journey is about, the mind of Christ but how do we accomplish that? It is common knowledge amongst Christians to know the basics – to accept the Lord as our Saviour and Lord, the Lord of our lives and then to start following Jesus in obedience. That’s the basics and most Christians know that but you know how few Christians know that there’s a big physical component to following Christ. It was put so eloquently by Trevor yesterday when Trevor said how do I physically prepare myself to encounter the living God. Isn’t it beautiful? . . . What are the physical components that will inhibit or that will advance me in my spiritual journey, taking the brain into consideration and you know what is the fascinating thing over the last 25 years in the research? It’s the fact that we’ve discovered that the brain can change, that the brain is completely modifiable, its changeable, its alterable. Its been proven, and all the resources you can read on that, that with our thoughts, with our acting, with our learning we can change the shape of the brain (that’s exactly what the Dalai Lama believes). Each activity that we perform . . . my brain is changing the whole time and this property of the brain to be able to be . . . changeable, to be alterable we call neuroplasticity. (Gys du Plessis then refers to two examples – the experiments done by Paul Bach-y-Rita and Wilder Penfield) We’ve got to grasp [how changeable and alterable the brain is] in our spiritual journey because that’s the context against which you’re going to do the contemplative life. (Emphasis and parenthesis added)

In his research on the brains of his epileptic patients, Wilder Penfield discovered that the brain was divided into maps and that there is a map for every thought, action and memory. In our spiritual formation”, du Plessis said, it’s all about maps because with every activity, every thought, every action, every learning, everything that you’re hearing now, and with everything you are going to do in the contemplative life, you are going to create maps in the brain. He went on to say that addictions are also created in the maps but the wonderful thing is that you can unlearn a map. You can malnourish a map. If you don’t feed the map, the map will eventually shrink. You can now overcome bad habits that hamper you in your Christian or spiritual life by a process of unlearning the maps where these bad habits are created and nourished. The way to do it is to create new maps that supplant or displace the maps that contain the addictions or bad habits. In a near ecstatic outburst of joy over these newly formed maps, Gys du Plessis said:

Do you realize the spiritual implication? . . . Just imagine what can happen spiritually if we embark on the contemplative journey; if we really go to that stillness . . . We must become neuroplastitioners. . . . We can create new maps, spiritually as well. (Emphasis added).

Who needs a divinely incarnated Messiah born of a virgin and faith as a precondition for salvation when you can transform yourself by means of displacing the old mind maps and habits with new mind maps and habits through contemplative practices? Will the creation of new maps in your brain through the contemplative journey necessarily lead to the transformation of your spirit because the brain allegedly is the seat of the Holy Spirit? It seems, however, that in this particular scenario, the Holy Spirit is not the One who does the transformative work in you; you allegedly do it yourself when you stop nurturing and nourishing the maps you created with your bad habits and displace them with new ones. Anyone may have the ability to discard bad habits such as smoking, drinking and swearing, especially when they make their New Year’s resolutions, but what effect do these bad habits have on the individual? The Bible says that “we all have sinned (past tense) and come short of the glory of God. It is not only the present sins (bad habits) that cause a man to come short of the glory of God. Every single one of his past sins separates him/her from God (Isaiah 59:2). It is the separation from God that must be dealt with by dealing with the cause of the separation. The malnutrition of the maps in your brain that supposedly contain your bad habits and their displacement with new maps cannot and will not break down the wall of separation between you and God. The neuroplasticity of your brain may enable you to create new maps in the place of maps containing your bad habits in your brain and it may even help you to become a better person but it is definitely not going to benefit you spiritually; it is not going to remove the stains those bad habits (sins) have left on your soul.

If you look closely you will see the hand of the enemy in all of this because it comes down to one thing, and that is the contemplative fraternity’s desire to mix or to integrate the spiritual and the physical components of man. You may recall that I quoted Gys du Plessis as saying:

It is common knowledge amongst Christians to know the basics – to accept the Lord as our Saviour and Lord, the Lord of our lives and then to start following Jesus in obedience. That’s the basics and most Christians know that but you know how few Christians know that there’s a big physical component to following Christ. It was put so eloquently by Trevor yesterday when Trevor said how do I physically prepare myself to encounter the living God. Isn’t it beautiful? . . .

NO! it is not beautiful! It is not even nice. It is devilish and it contradicts the Word of God! Jesus once emphatically declared that the flesh (all of man’s physical components) profit you nothing (John 6:63). It is completely worthless in the act of worshipping God. Jesus would never have said that God must be worshipped in spirit and in truth (John 4:23) if man’s physical components were of any value in your encountering with the living God. This, the mixture of physical components with the spiritual is precisely what makes the contemplative journey worthless. You may think you are being transformed, that you are growing spiritually and benefiting from the contemplative journey but God who never changes because He is the same yesterday, today, tomorrow and forevermore, still says that the flesh (physical components of man) profit you nothing, zilch, nada, zero.

Gys du Plessis wants the Christian to put God back in the brain, but the neuroscientist, Andrew Newberg, of whom du Plessis speaks very highly has already done so in his groundbreaking book “How God Changes Your Brain.” He has done “very interesting research” on the human brain to prove that man’s perceptions and ideas of God and who He is is allegedly mapped in his brain. On page 10 he says the following:-

To survive in a pluralistic society, we must evolve our spirituality and our secularity, integrating religion and science in a way that’s benecial to all. But to do this we must overhaul antiquated religious notions that interfere with the religious freedoms of others. Most important, we will need to devise innovative ways to promote peaceful co-operation between people, especially between those who hold different religious views. In this respect, scientists, psychologists, sociologists, theologians, and politicians must forge new cooperative alliances in order to improve our global interactions with others. (Emphasis added)

If it was possible to know God and to know who He is through an alleged set of maps in a physical organ such as your brain and if global interactions with others (relationships) can be forged through divinely orchestrated changes of these maps, then who needs a divinely incarnated Messiah born of a virgin and faith in Him as a precondition for salvation? (which ostensibly is one of Newberg’s antiquated religious notions that interferes with the religious freedom of others). The so-called newly devised innovative and scientifically proven ways to promote peaceful co-operation between people, especially between those who hold different religious views, are really not new at all but ancient occult practices disguised in new garb.

On pages 6 and 7 the two authors explain in more detail the alleged benefits of contemplative disciplines.

Along with my research staff at the University of Pennsylvania and the Center for Spirituality and the Mind, we are currently studying Sikhs, Sufis, yoga practitioners, and advanced meditators to map the neurochemical changes caused by spiritual and religious practices. Our research has led us to the following conclusions:

  1. Each part of the brain constructs a different perception of God. (Thomas says: Really? How does a physical organ such as the brain construct different perceptions of the God of the Bible who is Spirit and needs to be worshiped in spirit and in truth? – unless, of course, this god is not the God of the Bible and is quite capable of revealing himself through physical organs such as the brain. No wonder the Emergent fraternity makes such a fuss about worshiping their god through all of the five senses and are quite prepared to prepare themselves physically to encounter the living God).
  2. Every human brain assembles its perceptions of God in uniquely different ways, thus giving God different qualities of meaning and value. (Thomas says: Really! The God of the Bible who revealed Himself as being the same yesterday, today and forevermore can now be perceived in the brain as someone with different qualities of meaning and value. So, let’s discard the Bible as God’s revelation of Himself and rely completely on our brain to determine his unique qualities – unless, of course, this god is someone who can change his qualities so that the brain may perceive him as an angel of light).
  3. Spiritual practices, even when stripped of religious beliefs, enhance the neural functioning of the brain in ways that improve physical and emotional health. (Thomas asks: Is this what the medical world calls the placebo effect? – only in this particular case the patient is not given a sugar pill and told that it would improve his condition; he is told to sit down for about twenty minutes everyday and center himself into complete silence so that God may do an innermost therapeutic work on his physical and emotional health.)
  4. Intense, long- term contemplation of God and other spiritual values appears to permanently change the structure of those parts of the brain that control our moods, give rise to our conscious notions of self, and shape our sensory perceptions of the world. (Thomas says: Really! In order to change the structure of something, in this case the brain, you must of necessity have creative powers. Indeed, it makes you a god with a small letter “g”. This is nothing new. The Pentecostal Charismatic Church has always maintained that you can create wealth, health and prosperity through positive confession).
  5. Contemplative practices strengthen a specic neurological circuit that generates peacefulness, social awareness, and compassion for others. (Thomas says: Really! And I’ve always thought that a Christian who claims to be a follower of Christ, like the Emerging Church fraternity, already have the peace of Jesus Christ that passes all understanding because He once said “my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.”) (Emphasis and parenthesis added).

In an article entitled “Mirror Neurons Bring Science Closer to Buddhism” on the Buddhist Channel, the neurosurgeon, Dr S.V. Prabhu, Neuro Surgery Department of the Western India Institute of Neurosciences, Kolhapur, India, said that humans had a template for compassion and therefore the need was to make it a “temple.” In the case of human emotions such as pity, sympathy, empathy and compassion the last was the most positive while pity was a negative feeling. Mirror neurons, he stressed, helped a person to feel another’s emotions, like pain or pleasure. He observed that humans as the highest evolved living beings on this planet were equipped with tools of compassion in our brain. Mirror neurons are a concept that is revolutionizing psychology and philosophy, according to Dr, Prabhu who has established the correlates of Buddhist concepts in neurosciences.

Another speaker, Dr. Priyanjali De Zoysa, Psychological Medicine Department, Faculty of Medicine, Colombo University, said that although a majority of current psychotherapy techniques were based on Western (Judeo-Christian) psychological theories and research, the Western world’s growing interest, since of late, had led Buddhist practices to be incorporated into standard Western psychotherapeutic techniques. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was one such psychotherapeutic technique. “MBCT is based on the technique of Vipassana meditation as propounded by the Buddha more than 2500 years ago,” she said.

I have already discussed the terms “Insight Meditation,” which Ron Martoia likes to use, and the equivalent Buddhist form of meditation, “Vipassana, in my commentary “(E)merging into a plural spirituality” to demonstrate how alien practices are brazenly carried into the Christian church. The deeper one delves into the Emergent Church and its philosophies, the scope of their efforts to narrow the gap between Christianity and Buddhism, in particular, becomes more evident.

brainThe need to make the mirror neurons in the frontal lobe (or prefrontal cortex) of your brain, also known as the template of compassion, a “temple” has now made it possible to place any god or gods in this frontal lobe “temple.” In fact, the biblical view that man’s spirit is dead in sin and trespasses which needs to be quickened by the Holy Spirit before anyone can even begin to think of having a relationship with God and entering His Kingdom is now a redundant doctrine. It belongs to the old worldview of who is in and who is out, who is saved and who is not, who is holy and who is not, etc. etc. etc. (aka Stephan Joubert) No! that’s old hat. The new paradigm puts man in the driving seat because you now have the power to put God back in your brain (that is, in the frontal lobe of your brain where the life-changing mirror neurons reside and are called the “temple of compassion” ).

Once again, we should ask ourselves, who needs a divinely incarnated Messiah born of a virgin and faith as a precondition in Him when we have this wonderful organ called “brain” which is able to change your life and your relationship with others when the alleged maps in your brain can be altered by a panentheistic “God” through ancient “scientifically” proven contemplative practices?

For instance, we no longer need to preach the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ to our prison inmates, as brother Paul and Silas had done so eloquently in worshipful song whilst an earthquake brought a prison guard to his senses and he and his entire family were eventually saved. These primitive worldviews and “antiquated religious notions that interfere with the religious freedoms of others” have become obsolete in our new “panentheistic” and insanely contemplative driven post-modern society. What they actually need is not a dramatic earthquake-conversion to Jesus Christ, but a deeply silent metanoic shift in worldview and consciousness, induced by means of a divine innermost therapeutic work of God (a.k.a. Thomas Keating and his contemplative spirituality). So please, don’t tell our prison inmates and drunk, party inebriated youth that they are lost sinners and that they have capitulated their lives to crime, drunkenness and sex because Jesus Christ is still standing outside the door of their hearts and knocking . . . patiently waiting to be invited in. No! rather have them take part in a crash course of “Prison Contemplative Programs” and voila, the badly mapped mirror neurons in their brains will miraculously be altered by “God” and their lives will be changed in the twinkling of an eye. You can experience the same unmanageable life of an alcoholic, as the dearly beloved “father” Thomas Keating said in an interview with the equally adored integral guru, Ken Wilber, “without the inconveniences of being an alcoholic.” All you need to do is to displace the bad alcoholic habit in the badly created maps in your brain with the good contemplative “alcoholic” habit in the newly created maps in your brain. (Watch the video here).

What I find so fascinating about the emergent fraternity is that they love to quote Paul when it suits them just fine but when it does not fit into their agendas they conveniently “move far beyond trite bible verse quoting and engage with the deepest reflection on what it means to self-lead our own deep change and then understand how to help others do the same.” Gys du Plessis said: “1 Corinthians 2:16 says . . . ‘who knows the mind of the Lord, but we have the mind of Christ.’ That’s what Paul says there. . . . This is surely what the spiritual journey is about, the mind of Christ, but how do we accomplish that?” Why would you want to accomplish something when you already have it? Paul very distinctly says that God’s children already “have the mind of Christ.” They receive the mind of Christ (the things that pertain to the sovereign will of God) when the Holy Spirit quickens their spirits and He takes up his residence in their innermost beings (their spirits) at the moment of their regeneration – and not their brain. Then comes the gradual transformation from an egocentric and carnally inclined Christian to a God-centered and spiritually inclined Christian. This is where the mind which governs your thinking comes into play and why Paul said that Christians ought not to be conformed to the dictates of the world but to be transformed by the renewal of their mind (Romans 12:2). The brain is merely the physical medium, as it were, of the interaction between the spirit, body and soul. Whatever the Holy Spirit communicates through the spirit of the believer must be conveyed and translated to all the members of the body. And the only way for the Holy Spirit to accomplish this is not through coercion and force but by the believer’s obedience to Jesus Christ in the mortification of the “self.” (the dying to your “ego”).

Romans 6:1-14

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.

The Emergent Church in South Africa and her so-called pastors are arguably the most dangerous “spiritual criminals” in the country. I call them “spiritual criminals” because they are putting to death the small remaining vestiges of God’s work in many peoples’ lives. Through their demoniacal deceptive methods and practices, they are deceiving many men, women and children whom Jesus Christ bought with his precious blood. Paul’s warning in Galatians allegedly has no transformative influence on their lives because their consciences have been seared with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:1, 2; Galatians 1:8-9).

[1] Rogo, “Psychology,” pp. 12-13

[2] Dave Hunt: Occult Invasion, pp. 60-61, Harvest House Publishers 1998

[3] Michael Polanyi, The Tacit Dimension (Anchor, 1967), p. 37 cited by Lawrence LeShan, The Science of the Paranormal (The Aquarian Press 1987), p. 31

[4] Dave Hunt, Occult Invasion, p. 54-55

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Tom Lessing (Discerning the World)

Tom Lessing is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

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