Cape Town for Jesus / Kaapstad vir Jesus (2010)
Being a keen follower of Jesus Christ myself and an avid researcher who loves to read and study others’ books, I, with great expectation, clicked on the link which took me to Dr. Dion’s Forster’s website and his blog.
The first thing that caught my eye was the books he had written, amongst others “An uncommon spiritual path – the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity.” “Now that’s very interesting” I thought to myself. “Isn’t that wonderful?” . . . some of our most esteemed religious leaders in South such as Graham Power, Angus Buchan and Dion Forster want to win the entire Cape Town for Jesus by virtue of an uncommon spiritual path, a path that sets Capetonians on a quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity.
What is Conventional Christianity?
At first I was rather confused and disappointed, so much so that I had to tell myself, “Ok, don’t get upset. Take a deep breath, sit down and try to understand what Dion Forster means by conventional Christianity.” I sat down and began to write down the things I was taught way back in Sunday School.
1) John 3:16 – For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. God extends his love to all people but only those who receive by faith and faith alone his gift of salvation through his Son, Jesus Christ, will spend eternity in heaven with Him. The rest who reject his gift will perish in hell. Conventional Christianity? You bet!
2) Acts 4:12 – Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. John 14:6 – Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. Jesus Christ is the only Saviour of mankind. All the other spiritual paths claimed to be equally valid in reaching God is false and a lie. Conventional Christianity? You bet!
3) 1 John 5:12 – He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. God distinguishes between two kinds of people on the earth — believers and unbelievers; the saved and the unsaved; sheep and goat. Conventional Christianity? You bet!
4) 2 Timothy 3:16 – All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.Romans 10:17 – So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.The Bible is the only book available to mankind that provides him with sound doctrine concerning the Tri-une God and his angels, Satan and his fallen angels, the Fall of mankind, heaven and hell, and salvation and sanctification. Conventional Christianity? You bet!
Conventional Christianity explained
Conventional Christianity, in a nutshell, is therefore the only belief that honors, worships and adores Jesus Christ as the only Saviour of mankind who was born of a virgin by the Holy Spirit, died as a substitutionary or vicarious sacrifice for all our sins on a cursed cross, was buried, rose from the dead on the third day, ascended into heaven to be exalted on high at the right hand of God and will return to judge the rebellious nations and every single individual who rejected his gift of salvation.
If the above four points represent conventional Christianity, and I’m sure Dion Forster will agree that it does, what does he mean by moving beyond conventional Christianity? And, if God “according as his divine power has already given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3), why do we need the teaching of a half naked Benedictine Monk (Henri le Saux, aka Swami Abhishiktananda) sitting in his stone-age cave in India?
The editorial review of his bookprovides the answer.
It would seem that for many Christians, and particularly for persons who have left the Church, conventional Christianity does not provide enough to sustain their spiritual lives. This book charts an uncommon spiritual path by examining the non-dual spirituality of Henri le Saux (Swami Abhishiktananda), a French Benedictine monk in India. His approach is challenging, courageous, and even unsettling in some instances. However, his deep commitment to finding Christ is an inspiration. – Mobipocket
Let’s look a wee bit closer at the wording in the editorial review. In effect it says: If the above four conventional Christian doctrines are not sufficient to sustain your spiritual life, there is another path you can follow. It is an uncommon spiritual path chartered by the French Benedictine mystic and monk, Henri le Saux (Swami Abhishiktananda which means “Joy of the Anointed”) in India.
His deep commitment to finding Christ will inspire you. However, his whole approach in finding Christ is unsettling (worrying, disturbing, upsetting, disconcerting, troubling, unnerving). Who was Henri le Saux ( also known as Swami Abhishiktananda)?
The following are a few excerpts from articles I found on the internet.
Abhishiktananda was the name taken by the French Benedictine monk Henri le Saux, whose religious experience in India led him to become a bridge between Hindu and Christian spirituality.
Born in Saint Briac, Brittany on August 30, 1910, he seemed destined for a religious life and entered ‘minor seminary’ at the age of 11, becoming a Benedictine novice in 1930. He left France for India in the summer of 1948, never to return to France despite his affection for his homeland.
He became immersed in the atmosphere of India, in particular the Hindu perspective of Advaita. He founded an ashram and religious community, Shantivanam, in 1950 and became Swami Abhishiktananda.
In his latter years though, he found himself very drawn to religious experience within solitude, spending much time in the hermit caves at Arunachala. But at no point did he disavow his Christianity, and he celebrated Mass until virtually the end of his life. He died on December 7, 1973 at Indore nursing home, weakened by a myocardial infarction that summer, after several years in which he had lived virtually as a hermit. (Emphasis added)
Interreligious Dialogue – Rethinking Theology – Universalism
The solution for the crisis of the world must be found in common by all people of goodwill, by all men devoted to truth, in whatever way the truth may have manifested itself in the depth of their hearts.
Their dialogue will be a searchlight which will probe the present societies of men, but will first scan the heart of those taking part in it. It will be the test of their allegiance to truth alone in their respective religious or humanist commitments. . . . The fate of practically all Christian theologies so far has been that, while starting from the Gospel, they have speculated on it at leisure with the help of successive philosophical systems, especially Greek essentialism, down to the present existentialism.
They have determined in a rigorous manner the divine plan of salvation and have given ample intellectual foundation to the structures at work in the Church, thus deciding here below all matters concerning the other world.
All went well as long as the human mind accepted, without raising questions, that the others are practically excluded from the economy of salvation—even if in fact these others included the majority of God’s children. Then the realization came slowly that such an attitude is not only inhuman but unchristian, and it became impossible to follow Augustine’s idea of the massa damnata.
Theologians then tried to work out a plan of Salvation which would somehow include the others, but without altering the brilliant construction and synthesis they had already made. No accepted theology has yet tackled the problem adequately; dialogue in depth, however, is bound to call for a revision of the system, and it may be anticipated that the shock will be great. (Read complete article). (Emphasis added).
The answer to a successful pluralistic spirituality or theology is the contemplative life
Only a contemplative spirituality can be the proper foundation for a pluralistic theology. As long as God is known only through formulae and meditated upon through a mere operation of the mind, as long also as our love for him is confined to feelings and sentiments, it remains impossible for us to realize the limitations of our own approach to the divine mystery.
Only the experience of the divine Presence beyond all concepts and feelings will make it possible for us to accept the mystery of the multiform grace and love of the Lord. God is the Absolute. No one of his manifestations can express him completely: yet God is fully present in such manifestations.
At the same time, only such a contemplative attitude removes from dialogue the danger of syncretism. The center of the soul is not the intellect, as a theology too dependent on Plato and Aristotle is inclined to believe. It is the real center—the atman of the Vedantic tradition—that man must discover in himself, beyond all manifestations.
From that center only can man transcend himself, his thoughts, his senses, as well as the whole universe, beyond all man-made distinctions. At the level of the soul’s self-consciousness, man recognizes both the presence of God, the Absolute, in each of his manifestations, and the impossibility for any of those manifestations to express the mystery of the Absolute in a fully integral manner. Here is the very foundation for a pluralistic, not syncretistic, theology. And this is in fact what the apophatic tradition always stood for in the Church. (Read, last paragraph) (Emphasis added).
You may recall that I discussed Ron Martoia’s definition of apophatic in thisMartoia distinguishes between two kinds of spiritualities — kataphatic of which we have quite a lot and apophatic. Kataphatic spirituality relies on images, text, ideas, creation to come to know God. Lectio Divina is a kataphatic spiritual practice. All of this is very mental and imaginative, according to Ron Martoia. Apophatic spirituality uses no thought, no text, no image, no idea, to connect to God, to come to know God, to connect to God through the spirit.
The ultimate solution is the salvation of the world which will be procured only whencome together
The salvation of the world and the overcoming by the Church of its present crisis will depend on all people of goodwill coming together in truth and in the Spirit; all men, that is, who within themselves have heard the voice of the Spirit and have not been afraid to listen to it and to abide by it. (Read, last paragraph)
If Henri le Saux heard the voice of the Spirit and had not been afraid to listen to Him and to abide by his words, he would have been obedient to Him who said:
1 Timothy 4:1-2 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.
The Spirit of which Henri le Saux and Ron Martoia speak, is not the Holy Spirit of God but the spirit of Antichrist. To fully understand their preoccupation with a Spirit that is not of God, I would like to suggest that we look at some excerpts from an article by Donald Nicholl which he wrote in October of 1989 entitled
The emptying of the mind is the precondition for the Spirit to work in our lives
. . . for those of us who wish to accompany him [Henri le Saux] on his earthly pilgrimage—and even beyond—the indispensable precondition is that we do so through the medium of the Spirit. And the only preparation for the coming of the Spirit—or, rather, our awakening to him—is to empty our minds of all preconceptions, man made decisions and reason-based desires.
Because what we are faced with is a journey into “the deep things of God”—a favorite phrase of Abhishiktananda’s taken from the letter in which St. Paul tells the Corinthians that God has prepared for those who love him things beyond what any human being can see or hear or imagine. Yet the Spirit permeates everything, even the deep things of God, even God’s own nature, for only the Spirit of God knows what God is.
Conventional biblical Christianity teaches that the Holy Spirit of God was sent, subsequent to Jesus Christ’s resurrection and ascension, to reprove the world of sin, righteousness and judgment: of sin, because they do not believe on Jesus Christ; of righteousness, because He returned to his Father, and we see Him no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged already (John 16:7-11).
From the above quote it is evident that there is no room for the doctrine of sin in all of its aspects in Henri le Saux’s and his followers’ mindset. In fact, they believe that an empty mind is the key to their awakening to the Spirit. Their Spirit (although spelt with a capitol “S”) is not the Holy Spirit but a panentheistic spirit that permeates everything. He continues to explain:
How to live out in one’s everyday life this truth enunciated by St Paul was often illustrated by Abhishiktananda with the aid of a Sanskrit term akasha. The term akasha means both the infinite “exterior” space and the infinite “interior” space which are really but one, both spheres being permeated by that same Spirit which fills not only the whole cosmos but equally the human heart.
This is possible because the Spirit, being God, is beyond all forms, and so is able to make his presence felt in any form; and being beyond all times he yet fills all moments of time and is present to every event of history. Thus, he is at the core of the universe and of the heart of man. He is that core.
Conventional biblical Christianity teaches that the Spirit of God does not indwell or permeate those who do not belong to Christ Jesus (Romans 8:9). As a matter of fact their own spirits are dead in sin and trespasses because the Spirit of God has of yet not quickened them through the new birth in Christ Jesus.
But these doctrines are too condescending and too much of an exclusionary rule and therefore they have devised a new way of awakening to the Spirit — just empty your mind through contemplative, mystical meditative practices. According to Donald Nicholl, Henri le Saux was awakened to the Spirit when he met the Indian holy man Ramana Maharshi and guru Gnanananda.
When he stepped into their “holy” presence he immediately knew and experienced that they had been drawn so deep into “the cave of the heart” (he Sanskrit word is guha) that they touched the heart of the cosmos. Consequently they were blessed with a peace that is beyond human comprehension and they radiated that peace.
Satan is an imitator who uses conventional biblical truths but twists its meaning to achieve his own objectives. Conventional biblical Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ is the only One who is able to give peace to those who have received Him as their Saviour by faith alone. It is a peace that surpasses all understanding because it is a peace not of this world but his own peace that He gives (John 14:27).
Conventional biblical Christianity clearly states that there is no peace for the wicked (those who do not know Jesus as their Saviour) (Isaiah 57:21). Hinduism, and in particular the Hindu word purnam (fullness) allegedly helped Henri le Saux to fathom the depths of Jesus’ experience of God.
Fortunately for Abhishiktananda he found to hand a Hindu term, purnam which not only proved far richer in connotation than the Western term “fullness” but also provided him with a most valuable gift to pass on to the Church.
Abhishiktananda most valuable gift, as the word purnam indicates, is the complete stillness or silence between the thoughts you encounter during meditation where you become aware that you are perfect. Willem Nicol, one of the doyens of contemplative meditation in South Africa, calls it “the gap.”
He came to see also that the Spirit, who alone can reveal to us the depth of Jesus’ experience, had long been at work in the lives of Hindus and in their sacred scriptures. In Hinduism, therefore are to be found potentialities of the human Spirit which go far beyond what has so far been considered possible within the limits of Western culture.
Hence the encounter with Hinduism is an occasion to liberate the spirit within Christians and thereby enable them to realise more fully the riches contained in the revealed words of their own scriptures and to share more intimately in the experience of Jesus as Son of the Father and yet one with him.
Also the encounter with Hinduism—as well as with Buddhism, Islam and other great religious spheres of mankind—will usher in a radically new stage in the awareness and development of the Church. As a result the Mediterranean-based form of Christianity, which is still predominant, will soon be seen as only one of the historical possibilities of living the Christian faith.
The development of the Church, according to Henri le Saux, depends on its encounter with Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam and other great religions. Conventional biblical Christianity teaches that the Church is wholly dependent on her Head, Jesus Christ, who promised that He would build her and not even the gates of hell will be able to prevent her growth (Matthew 16:18).
Seraphim of Sarov . . . used to say, “The whole aim of the Christian life is to acquire the Holy Spirit.” And it is surely a sign of how faithful he remained to the call of the Holy Spirit that some words of his should chime in so perfectly with a remarkable statement of Seraphim, who said, “I tell you that when God visits us in his ineffable goodness we must be still even from prayer.
In prayer the soul utters words of speech, but when the Holy Spirit has come you must be in complete silence.” The corresponding statement by Abhishiktananda runs, “At the end there is no place for prayer, for praise, but the silence which is the origin and completion of all words, when all the manifestations of God have to be left behind and with all his strength man must aim at the Silence in which alone God is in himself.”
It sounds (or shall I rather say, it “silences”) a lot like Ron Martoia who maintains that
What do Dion Forster, Graham Power and Angus Buchan have in common?
I have already mentioned in one of my previous commentaries that Graham Power, Chairperson of Transformation Africa with whom Rev. Jannie Pelser and many other spiritual leaders are in close cahoots, was one of the major sponsors of the Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Cape Town from 1 to 8 December in 1999.
If ever there was a time when nominal Christians were captivated by the altars of other religions, it was here, when they became “participants to meet their own and other’ traditions at deeper levels” to “encounter others whose practice, work and commitment can enrich their own,” to “inspire individuals, organizations, nations and religions and spiritual communities to offer gifts of service, which will make long-term difference in the world” and last but not least to “explore new modes of creative engagement of each institution with one another and with the critical issues which confront the planetary community.” (“A New Day Dawning, Spiritual Yearnings and Sacred Possibilities”, p. 6).
They arebut have no qualms whatsoever to be ashamed of the offensive Gospel of Jesus Christ. While they unashamedly boast in the face of God that they are “unashamedly ethical” He in utter derision answers them: “all your righteous acts (global ethics, norms and values) are like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6). (Read written by Johan Malan and Louisa Coetzee for further information on the Transformations movement in South Africa).
The common denominator between Dion Forster, Graham Power and Angus Buchan, as with all the other transformational facilitators, is ecumenism which is just another word for interreligious dialogue. The key to successful ecumenism is compromise, as Henri le Saux so succinctly put it: “The solution for the crisis of the world must be found in common by all people of goodwill, by all men devoted to truth, in whatever way the truth may have manifested itself in the depth of their hearts.
Here again we see that truth is not something found in propositions, books or God-given doctrines but in the way you experience it in your own heart on your chosen spiritual journey. Yes! they all freely talk about Jesus, loving Jesus, following Jesus and following the lead of the Spirit but theirs’ is an ecumenical Jesus and Spirit who does not care about sound doctrine but has embraced the god of paradoxes (opposites are both valid and true). Today’s transformational Gospel is an ecumenically compromised “Gospel” which is no Gospel at all.
Its adherents do not care what you believe as long as you endorse their code of global ethics. How else are they going to tolerate men like Dion Forster who unashamedly endorses someone like Henri le Saux who was a Hindu disguised as a Christian?
How else are they going to tolerate clergy from the Roman Catholic fold whom they invited to attend the Cape Town for Jesus rally and who deny the efficacy of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross by claiming that good works, suffering, the mass, indulgences, purgatory, the Blessed Virgin Mary etc. etc. are all part and parcel of the final procurement of one’s salvation? Roman Catholicism adamantly denies that Jesus Christ’s vicarious death on the cross was all sufficient for our salvation. In fact, they have anathematized every single person who believe that faith and faith alone in the finished work of Christ on the cross saves lost sinners.
If anyone says that in order to obtain the remission of sins it is necessary . . . to believe with certainty and without hesitation . . . that his sins are forgiven him, let him be anathema (Council of Trent, Six, XVI, 13) If anyone says that after the reception of the grace of justification the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out to every repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can be opened, let him be anathema. (H.J. Schroeder, O.P., trans., The Canons and Decrees of the Council of Trent, Tan Books, 1978, p. 46).
A popular tract titled “Heaven Opened by the practice of the Three Hail Mary’s” promises:
One of the greatest means of salvation and one of the surest signs of predestination is unquestionably the devotion to the Most Blessed Virgin. All the holy doctors of the church are unanimous in saying with St. Alphonsus of Ligouri: “A devout servant of Mary shall never perish . . “ I consecrate to Thee [Mary] my heart with all its affections, and beseech Thee to obtain for me from the Most Holy Trinity all the graces necessary for salvation. (“,” Imprimatur: Francis Cardinal Spellman, Archbishop of New York).
Was this perhaps the reason why Angus Buchan spoke in an ethically transformational mode in stead of preaching the cross of Jesus Christ as Paul did so eloquently because he did not want to offend the Catholics in his audience? (1 Corinthians 2:2).
In his report on the Cape Town for Jesus Day, Dion Forster said that Angus Buchan “encouraged South Africans to start taking responsibility for the nation, and to start making a really positive contribution towards transformation and renewal in society (which includes elements such as racial reconciliation, shifting the wealth of the nation, and of course also standing against crime and corruption).
The second part of his message, says Forster, encouraged men to live responsibility in their family lives and work lives.” Why is it necessary for Angus Buchan to repeat the very same message over and over again at his appearances when South Africa is already in a revival as he claims?
Surely if we were already smack bang in the middle of a mighty revival the men would already have been living responsibly in their homes, the wives would already have been living in submission to their husbands for the sake of Jesus Christ, the children would already have been obedient to their parents in all things, they all would already have taken responsibility for the nation by preaching the unadulterated Gospel of Jesus Christ to the lost and last but not least, Graham Power would already have repented in sack and cloth and begged God’s forgiveness for his participation in the Parliament of the World’s Religions held in Cape Town from 1 to 8 December in 1999 and Dion Forster would already have stopped singing the praises of the likes of Henri le Saux and Bede Griffiths.
The fact that these things have not happened as of yet and Angus Buchan repeatedly finds it necessary to remind South Africans of their responsibilities is ample proof that we are nowhere near a revival. Yes! a false one, perhaps but not a Holy Spirit and biblically inspired revival.
South Africa, how much longer are you going to tolerate false teachers and apostles who teach you to limp between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him. But if their ecumenical Baal is, then follow him.