By Dr. Dave A Schoch, Th.D., NT focus
Before getting into the book itself, let’s take a look at the author: Peter Scazzero…
- Scazzero is not a Christian, he is a Catholic (by that statement, I mean that he has pastored a “Christian” church, but he holds to Catholic teachings and practices). Now, while many Christians may hold that Catholics are Christians because they embrace the main doctrines of Scripture, it matters little if they do such when they involve themselves in unbiblical practices. (Statement updated)
– When you pray to Mary, you are involved in pagan practices, not Scriptural practices.
– When you pray to a statue of Mary, you are involved in pagan practices, not Scriptural practices.
– When you tell people that they have to come and confess their sins to you, rather than going to the Mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ, then you are not practicing Biblical precepts.
– When you cling to worldly things and teach millions of others that doing such is OK with God, then you are not practicing Biblical precepts.
– When you tell young people that if they commit themselves to each other they are married in God’s eyes, so they don’t necessarily need to get married before men, then you are in sin.
– The list can go on, but the point is that just because Catholicism is based upon the Bible, does not mean that they are any more Christian than Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, who also base their religion on the Bible.
There may very well be people within the Catholic church that are deadly sincere in their search for God or in their religion, but we know that being sincere does not amount to a hill of beans if you are sincerely wrong in what you are practicing. Can Catholics get saved? Yes, most definitely…but after they do get saved they either gravitate away from the religion that the Roman Catholic Church teaches, or they slowly die spiritually again from being inundated by the false doctrines and practices of the RCC. (Statement updated)
2. Scazzero is not only a Catholic, he is also part of the Catholic – Buddhist movement (which they call the Christian-Buddhist movement), and has even been the guest speaker at such Catholic-Buddhist conventions. Anyone who mixes the Bible with paganism, is not a Christian by any stretch of the imagination.
3. Scazzero is also somewhat of a leader in the Emergent Church Movement, which is riddled with false doctrines, liberal unscriptural doctrines (homosexuals are OK with God, for example), and other unbiblical teachings and attitudes.
4. As we shall see in the coming pages, Scazzero thinks that it is Ok to teach Christians to involve themselves in esoteric, eastern mystic meditation practices in order to ‘get closer to God.’ These practices lead people to involve themselves in pagan practices that open them to demonic contact and demonic possession – but Scazzero thinks nothing of that since Catholic mystic monks have been practicing them for decades.
5. Aside from these things, he couches the vocabulary of the book within Christian terminology, which is deceptive, whether he believes it is or not.
Now that we have an inside look at the author of this book, let us tackle the teachings which Scazzero is giving to the Church at large:
The seeming point to the book is the underlying caption, “It’s impossible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” The supposed premise here is that one cannot become spiritually mature if one is emotionally immature; however, the fact is that when one matures spiritually he will automatically mature emotionally. The two cannot be separated any more than your spirit can separate from your body and the body remain alive.
On page 1 Scazzero writes, “I never imagined that the message contained in these pages would resonate so deeply with churches across all denominations and theological lines.” However, the reason for such a deep resonation is that the Church is experiencing the fall-out from numerous problems, most of which center around people taking up the positions in the church of pastor who God has never called into the ministry (this will be explained more fully later).
On page 2 of the Introduction, he tells us, “This book is meant to transform your life, not merely provide information. It is an invitation to a deeper and wider relationship with Jesus Christ, requiring you to journey into the unknown…” I don’t know whether Scazzero is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, or whether he is just deceived, but this book will not get you any closer to Christ…and in fact, it will take you farther away from Him if you practice what he invites you to do in the book; such as…
In the same paragraph, he tells you, “The combination of emotional health and contemplative spirituality – the heart of the message found on these pages – will unleash a revolution into the deep places of your life.” Now we have the main crux of what this book is all about, contemplative spirituality, and now we must give you the meaning of this term:
Contemplative Spirituality –
- Contemplative spirituality teaches that god lives inside every man, saved or unsaved…
- It teaches that man’s basic problem is that he is not in contact with the god that dwells within us all…
- And that by ancient meditation practices and prayer techniques, man can restore communion, peace, and balance with god…
- It teaches you to empty your mind and focus on your breathing (Buddhist/Hindu meditation), because your breath is the spirit of god and you must concentrate on breathing in god…
- CS spiritualizes God into some kind of esoteric manifestation of love – love incarnate. This is not what the Scriptures mean when they say that God is love.
- Within Contemplative Spirituality, practitioners practice what they call contemplative prayer and compare it to prayer which we read about in the Bible. The main problem here, however, is that contemplative prayer is not prayer at all, rather (as we touched upon above) it is sitting still, clearing your mind and emptying it of any and all thought, chanting a single word or short phrase (in the so-called ‘Christian tradition’ one can chant Jesus’ name over and over again, or something in a phrase like “God is love”) or focusing on one’s breathing. There is no communication with God taking place at all – the practitioner is actually focusing inward to hear ‘god’ rather than addressing Him directly, as the Scriptures teach.
- CS also teaches its adherents regarding transcendental meditations, to ‘go inward’ seeking enlightenment that is within us all, to the point that when you become sufficiently enlightened, that you become light enough to levitate during meditation. The only way that a person can levitate, is if they have become demon possessed and the demonic spirit within them is causing that action. Human beings do not have the power to levitate in and of themselves…it is akin to saying that you can walk through walls. This aspect of CS is not addressed by Scazzero in his book.
- Adherents of CS and contemplative ‘prayer’ as well as other transcendental meditations, can not only feel better and more mentally alert after their meditation practice…but continued practice has led many to experience nervous breakdowns, episodes of dangerous and bizarre behavior, suicidal and homicidal tendencies, psychological episodes, crime, depression, and manic behavior. All of which are modern day symptoms (among others) of possible demonic activity. Although people may have these symptoms, it does not necessary mean that they are possessed. [A person who is possessed does not always act like what we see in The Exorcist or other movies portraying demonic possession. In some people the symptoms can be homosexuality, or various other things.]
- Speaking of demonic activity, the practice of contemplative ‘prayer’ takes one into the spiritual realm where people – in this case Christians who mean well in trying to develop a better relationship with God (cough) – think they are meeting angels, the Holy Spirit, or even Christ or God while in the spiritual realm. However, masquerading as angels of light are what demons do, for the purpose of deception in order to keep us from meeting with God.
- Nothing having to do with Contemplative Spirituality, or contemplative prayer, is anything that a Christian should be participating in – especially if their goal is to move closer to God. Scripture says that there is only one way to move closer to God…and that is by moving into ever deeper practice of holiness. Of course, that’s just too much work, so people want to find a better way of moving closer to God. Unfortunately for these folks, there is no other way to move closer to God; hence we have teachers accumulating to themselves those with itching ears, and moving into ever increasing darkness rather than light.
- So, when Scazzero says, “contemplative spirituality – the heart of the message found on these pages – will unleash a revolution into the deep places of your life,” he may have good intentions on his part, but his ‘well-meaning’ advise has the potential to revolutionize your life through demon possession…something that no sane person should desire. Even CS and CP enthusiast and teacher Richard Foster issues caution:
I also want to give a word of precaution. In the silent contemplation of God we are entering deeply into the spiritual realm, and there is such a thing as supernatural guidance that is not divine guidance. While the Bible does not give us a lot of information on the nature of the spiritual world, we do know enough to recognize that there are various orders of spiritual beings, and some of them are definitely not in cooperation with God and his way. (thevalueofsparrows.com)
Scazzero evidently has no qualms about teaching Christians how they can perform pagan Hindu and Buddhist meditation practices that will take them directly into contact with demonic spirits… and he doesn’t even give us warning about these things in this book, which others in the field of eastern meditation do feel necessary to warn others about.
On page 3 of the Introduction, he says, “Chapter 3 provides the hinge upon which the rest of the book hangs, explaining why both emotional health and contemplative spirituality are indispensable to bringing transformation in Christ to the deep places of your life.” This is outright nonsense. CS is really BS! Neither Paul nor any of the other apostles, or Christians of the first century, needed contemplative spirituality in order to transform into the image of Christ. Scazzero, in fact, does not know what he is talking about. Paul, I am sure, would denounce Scazzero for a wolf in sheep’s clothing. What takes us into transformation into Christ, and becoming more and more like Him (as we are commanded to), is personal prayer and relationship with God, and in walking in obedience to Him. Key points of Biblical character which Scazzero never addresses not even one time throughout the 227 pages of the book. He appears to be one of those who thinks he knows better than the Scriptures on how to reach God, and in a most unbiblical, esoteric way.
Also on page 3 of the Introduction, Scazzero quotes and references in other places in his book, John of the Cross, a Catholic mystic who engaged in esoteric and occult practices. This is not someone a Christian should be reading from. Among his writings, he teaches that Christians need to stop practicing prayer and other spiritual routines because, he says, they prevent one from attaining ‘full union with God.’
On page 7, the first page of chapter 1, Scazzero gives us insight into his mental haze by saying, “Christian spirituality, without an integration of emotional health, can be deadly – to yourself, your relationship with God, and the people around you.” Let us pause for a moment and examine the outer crux of what Scazzero’s book is supposedly all about, emotional health.
Exactly what is emotional health?
People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behavior. They can keep things in perspective and are able to bounce back from set-backs that take place in their lives. They feel good about themselves and have good relationships with others.
Being healthy emotionally does not mean that you are happy all the time. Rather, it means that you are aware of your emotions and you are mature enough to keep them in check so that you don’t allow them to rule and run your life. People who live their lives according to what they feel are not emotionally healthy…they only do the dishes when the “feel” like it. They only do their laundry when the “feel” like it. They only go to work, pay their bills, feed the kids, cut the grass, etc., when they “feel” like doing those things. And if they don’t feel like doing them, then someone else has to do it or those things don’t get done.
In effect, what we are talking about when it comes to emotional health, is maturity. Being mature means that you accept your responsibilities in life and do them, regardless of how you feel. You pay your bills because you are responsible for them. You take care of your kids because you are responsible for them. When we do not accept our responsibilities in life, then we are immature.
When a person lives their life according to how they feel, and not according to their responsibilities in life, but allow their emotions to dictate their actions and behavior…then they are not mature. Below the surface, what Scazzero is ‘trying’ to doctor for you, is your level of maturity – yet he is so spiritually immature that he does not see that.
Being emotionally healthy means that you manage your emotions so that you don’t allow them to cause you to make stupid or unhealthy decisions and actions. An emotionally healthy person still experiences the same kind of stresses, depression, and anxieties that we all have, but he deals with them in healthy, constructive, and beneficial ways.
Therefore, how does “Christian spirituality” and emotional health come together? We find the answer in a variety of passages in the Scriptures – without having to consult esoteric, mystic, eastern meditation practices:
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Romans 12:14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.
I Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Galatians 5:24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
Ephesians 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,
Ephesians 4:26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger,
Ephesians 4:31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.
Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
These are but a small fraction of the passages addressing emotions (as well as other topics) and how we are to deal with them. The spiritually mature are those who pay attention to their emotions (in this specific case) and train themselves to deal with those emotions according to the directives of the Scriptures.
A Christian who deliberately hurts people physically or emotionally when he is angry, is either not a Christian, or he is not a very mature Christian. Maturity has to do with accepting one’s responsibilities – no matter what they are – and as Christians we are given mandates that we are responsible to God for, regarding how to handle our emotions.
We are not to “bottle” our emotions, but neither are we to just “have at it” with our emotions. We are to find mature ways to deal with our emotions so that they do not get out of hand and cause emotional problems or cause us to make problems for ourselves through violence or other issues.
Now, let’s look again at the quote above: “Christian spirituality, without an integration of emotional health, can be deadly – to yourself, your relationship with God, and the people around you.” We would think that Scazzero means ‘spiritual maturity’ because “Christian spirituality” seems to be redundant…but it is in fact not redundant, because what Scazzero means by spirituality is esoteric eastern nonsense.
Spirituality as defined in the way that Scazzero means – from the eastern religions – means a spiritual process of re-forming oneself in order to orientate oneself towards contact, experience, and subsummation into the god within. In other words, through spiritual meditation and exercises into the spiritual world, one contacts his inner self through which he can come face to face with higher spiritual beings who will teach him how to live life well now, while at the same time learning to become one with the supreme being (or beings) who are transient and dwell within all other things. In this language, we hear about “ascended master’s,” personal growth with an emphasis upon personal experience with spirits, and other non-Biblical terms and teachings.
Spirituality in this sense means that there is no right or wrong way to reach god. One person might seek god through meditation, another through yoga, another through drug experimentation, etc. The term “spirituality” generally addresses spiritual paths outside of Biblical directions to do so. Spirituality generally has no rules for what is right and wrong, good and evil, neither is there a right path to God or a wrong path, but any path may be found by particular individuals in their search for universal truth and harmony.
A simple web search for the meaning of spirituality will show a definite differentiation between what the Bible tells us about relationship with God, and some definitions of spirituality will even include religious awareness and/or religious attendance (church, mosque, temple, etc.). What we will not find, is anything close to how God’s Word tells us that we must come to God. Thus, the term “spirituality” has little to nothing to do with Christianity. We must remember Scazzero’s background…a Catholic background where he has mixed Buddhist/Hindu teachings and practices with his brand of ‘christianity.’
Christian ‘spirituality’ cannot be separated from emotional health, strictly because one’s emotional health is part and parcel of one’s walk with God. Controlling one’s emotions has a direct impact upon our behavior, and one who is not controlling his/her behavior is not, by definition, on the pathway to spiritual maturity. The belabored point here, is that one cannot be actively walking with God and not be bringing under control his emotions and feelings, because one who is actively walking with God strives to be holy and righteous (things that ‘spirituality’ does not address regarding a divine being).
Having said all that, in the quote Scazzero says that being emotionally unhealthy can destroy ourselves, our relationship with God, as well as with those around us. While his round-about way of teaching includes esoteric terms and language, what he says is true – if a person allows his emotions to run away with him, and allows them to cause him to do things that he should not be doing, he will most definitely destroy his relationship with God, others, and potentially destroy every area of his life.
However, his book does not address the foremost thing that Scripture tells us to do in order to become spiritually mature…walking in obedience to God and applying the spiritual precepts to our lives which the Bible gives us to do.
On page 8 he says he did something that no pastor of a church of God should ever do…he says that he lied to someone visiting his congregation. According to the Scriptures and the attitudes that they give us concerning ministers, anyone who calls himself a pastor that lies to anyone, much less someone in their congregation, is not a person that should be filling the pulpit.
On page 10 he says the following: “I was stuck at an immature level of spiritual and emotional development. And my then-present way of living the Christian life was not transforming the deep places in my life.” While I have no doubt that this was (and most likely still is) the truth about him, Scazzero fails to understand that Scripture tells us how to move into spiritual maturity – and it has nothing to do with the eastern esoteric meditative nonsense that he outlines in his book.
Spiritual (and emotional) maturity as the Scriptures outline them, has to do primarily with walking in obedience to God’s Word, putting into practice what the Bible tells us to do, such as the passages given above. Walking in obedience to God is the only way to come to spiritual maturity, and it is the only way to come to emotional maturity as the Bible outlines it. And this is one of the main reasons why people are leaving the church today without even realizing it – because they would have personal experiences with God IF they were walking in obedience to His Word. Sadly, however, obedience to God today is not one of the main subjects preached about.
On pages 10-11, Scazzero may correctly pin-point the feelings of those who are leaving the church in droves when he says; “Researchers have been charting the departing dust of those known as ‘church leavers’ – an increasingly large group that has been gathering numbers in recent years…what went wrong? They were sincere followers of Jesus Christ, but they struggled as much as anyone else with their marriages, divorces, friendships, parenting, singleness, sexuality, addictions, insecurities, drive for approval, and feelings of failure and depression at work, church, and home…what went wrong with the church?” He continues on to page 11 in saying; “After many years of frustration and disappointment, realizing that the black and white presentations of the life of faith did not fit with their life experience, they quit – at least internally…they grew weary of Christians around them who, regardless of their ‘knowledge’ of God, church involvement, and zeal, were angry, compulsive, highly opinionated, defensive, proud, and too busy to love the Jesus they professed…They can’t quite put their finger on the problem, but they know something is not right. Something is missing.”
Although what he states above is true…in that there is something missing in a vast majority of churches in this country today…what Scazzero fails to pin-point is exactly what is missing. He fails to address what is missing because he himself does not know what it is. In effort to give the church what he feels it is missing, Scazzero instead gives hundreds of churches nationwide, and thousands of Christians around the world (possibly millions) eastern mystical, Buddhist and Hindu meditation practices so that – in his mind – will give them a better chance at experiencing God in their personal lives.
He is not far from the truth. What is missing in our churches today is that people go to church in search of God. They want to come into contact with God face to face as it were…they believe and exercise faith in Him, but their hearts yearn for contact with Him, but they are just not finding it in church. While this is not a paper on why the church does not meet with God, for the most part, I will basically state that the reason why we don’t meet God and come into contact with Him in church…is because our churches today, for the most part, are pastored by men and women whom God has never called into His ministry.
If God has not given you a specific call into ministry by some divine contact – be it through a prophet, evangelist, vision, or other means – then you have no business filling the position of the pastor of a church. Period. He whom God calls, He also equips. And when a person fills the position and office of pastor who has not been called by God into that position and office, then that person is not equipped for that job. If he isn’t equipped for the job, he will not be able to do the job…just as a person who has not been called by God to be a prophet will not be able to do the job of a prophet. He will be a false prophet, calling down upon himself the wrath of God for doing what he is not called to do. That should be a stern warning for any and all who take up the mantle of what God Himself has not called him to do. Read Ephesians 4:11-14 for the duties of those church offices of ministry.
What am I saying? I am saying that if you study the texts in Scripture that deals with ministry, it is God who gives a certain (solid, concrete) call into the ministry, and He equips those with special spiritual giftings to be able to perform the call He places upon them. If one is not called to be a pastor, then he will not be able to take the church into God’s presence in worship, he will not be able to see in Scripture the key things that people need in order to become spiritually mature, and he will not be able to give you what you need in order to approach God according to Scripture. This is one reason why I see that Scazzero is not called by God to be the pastor of the church he is currently pastoring…because if he was, he would see the problem – the true problem – and address it according to Scripture; not according to eastern religious esoteric meditation nonsense that has the ability to get people demon possessed.
On page 16 he hits a milestone: “A yoke, in ancient Palestine, was made of wood, handmade to fit perfectly to the neck and shoulders of oxen and prevent chafing or cutting. In the same way, Jesus’ assurance of a ‘light, easy yoke’ can be translated as follows: ‘I have crafted a life for you, a yoke for you to wear that perfectly fits who you are. It is light and easy, I promise.’ The reality, however, is that after many years as an active Christian, I felt exhausted and in need of a break. My life was lived more out of reaction to what other people did or might do or what they thought or might think about me. I knew in my head we were to live to please God. Living like that was another matter.”
I want to focus in on the bold text, where Scazzero is confused and gives us his erroneous interpretation of what Jesus actually states. The text that he refers to (Matthew 11:28-30) does not translate to saying that Christ has fashioned a “yoke for you to wear that perfectly fits who you are.” God calls us to move from who we are (practicing sinners) into a life of holiness and righteousness, He does not fashion a yoke for us for “who you are.” The yoke that He speaks of always ‘yokes’ two working animals together, and this is what Jesus is promising: that He will yoke us together with Him and He shares our burdens and empowers us to the work…as long as that is what we are doing.
The work we are to be doing is working on ourselves to bring ourselves into His likeness, to transform ourselves into His image on earth. That only takes place through commitment to Him and walking in obedience to Him. It does not come about only through prayer, or worship, or doing good things, or doing ministry (especially if you have not been called by God into the ministry). We do not become the image of Christ in maturity, or anything else, if we are not walking in obedience to Christ. This is the second reason why the church is failing today: we not only have pastors who are not called by God into leading His people, we also have churches full of people who put on their Sunday best, go to church, and then go home and leave their ‘christianity’ back at the church doors.
Some people like to say that what makes them a Christian is what they believe, and that is childish nonsense. Do you become a car if you believe that you are a car? Do you become a cheeseburger if you believe that you are a cheeseburger? Can you fly if you believe that you can fly? Let’s take it further…are you a lawyer simply because you want to believe that you are? Can you make yourself a police officer just because you want to believe that you are a police officer?
The obvious answer is no. Neither are you a Christian just because you believe in Christ. This “easy believism” nonsense in the church today is what’s killing the church today. What makes you a Christian is following Christ in obedience, which is what Scripture teaches from Genesis to Revelation.
On page 17, Scazzero repeats an oft-repeated mantra of his, the center issue of the book, “It is not possible to be spiritually mature while remaining emotionally immature.” While he correctly identifies a problem, he both looks at the problem, and addresses the problem, from the viewpoint of a salesman, not a psychologist. In fact, it is impossible for a person to be spiritually mature in Christianity, and be emotionally immature at the same time; why? Simply because our emotions, and how we process them, are part and parcel of becoming spiritually mature. The problem with Scazzero’s approach here, is that he looks at the two events as two separate and individual problems, when they are not.
A person who is reading the Scriptures, praying (which includes more than simply your “please do this” list, but actually coming to God for personal and intimate communion and fellowship), worshiping God personally at home, will not start down the road to Christian maturity until they begin to walk in obedience to God and do what the Bible instructs us to do. And again, Scazzero never touches on obedience to God at all…not once…in the entire 227 pages of the book.
On page 19 we see one of the areas in his life that suggests that he was never called by God to pastor a church, lacking the spiritual gifting to understand Scripture and obedience. He says, “I had been taught that the way to approach life was through fact, faith, and feelings, in that order. As a result, anger, for example, was simply not important to my walk with God. In fact, it was dangerous and needed to be suppressed.” He goes on to the end of the paragraph, stating that he was “asking God to take away my ‘bad’ feelings and make me like Christ.”
Two things here: first, Scripture does not tell us to suppress anger, it tells us to forgive the one who made us angry because of whatever they did or said. When we don’t forgive like we are commanded to, then God says that He will no longer forgive us. When we walk in disobedience to God, we are not walking in obedience to Him…we are not being transformed into the image of Christ, and we are not on the road to spiritual maturity in Christ. Second, God tells us to conform to the image of Christ, Scripture does not tell us anywhere that God will snap His fingers and “poof!” we magically become the image of Christ. That is our job, not God’s, and we only work on becoming the image of Christ through walking in obedience to Him.
Down at the bottom of page 19, we read the following: “I learned that if we do the hard work of integrating emotional health and spirituality, we can truly experience the wonderful promises God has given us.” Here, the sad truth is that Scazzero is deceived, completely. First, notice that he once again returns to the term “spirituality,” and note that he does not use the word in the Biblical sense. How do I know this? Because if he was using it in the Biblical sense of the word, he would next address obedience to God, but he does not. Secondly, he is deceived in thinking that eastern esoteric meditations lead people into experiencing “the wonderful promises God has given us,” because those promises only come to those who are abiding in the New Covenant through obedience to the Law of Christ…not through Hindu meditations.
Many, many Christians do not experience the promises of God in their lives because…because they only believe they are Christians when they really are not. A person is a Christian when they follow Christ’s teachings and walk in obedience to God, because it is then that they abide in the New Covenant – the marriage covenant of God to “whosoever will” come to Him on His terms.
For far too long the church, especially in the West, has ignored the fact and implication that the Bible is made up of two covenants, not two “testaments.” A covenant is not a testament. They are both legal instruments of ancient juris prudence (law), but they served two completely different purposes legally. The New Testament is not a testament, it is the New Covenant in Christ, and until the church learns exactly what that means, and what it directly implies, she (the church) will continue to have problems and remain spiritually impotent and powerless to affect change in either the individual, or the world around her.
Case in point, the promises of God are covenant promises, given by God to those who abide in the New Covenant. We remain abiding in the New Covenant through walking in obedience to God. If we are not walking in obedience to God, then we are not abiding in Christ or the New Covenant. If you are not abiding in Christ or the New Covenant, then you do not have any legal right to have any of the promises of God…and that includes eternal life. When people believe through false doctrine that they don’t have to walk in obedience to God because Christ’s righteousness is what its all about, then human tendency is to not do what we don’t have to do.
People get saved and then never engage God in either personal relationship, nor walk in obedience to Him (which is what leads to all the problems in Christians’ lives that this book addresses)…in effect, they walk through the front doors of the church, and then spiritually walk right out the back doors, never knowing that they did. They attend church on Sundays and perhaps even mid-week service, but they have no relationship with God physically or spiritually…and like Scazzero, years later wonder why they don’t experience God and their lives are falling apart.
Throughout the book we read sentences akin to “Allow God to love you where you are now,” and the like (page 20). This is nonsense. God loves us all day long, every day, wherever we are, whatever we are doing – even when we sin. This phrase, and all those like it, are not only deceptive but down right unbiblical.
On page 24 Scazzero gives us a list of 10 things he believes are symptoms of being emotionally unhealthy…most of which is sincere nonsense. In numbers 2 and 3 (Ignoring the emotions of…; and Dying to the wrong things) he gets close, but not close enough to do the reader of his book any real good. The main symptom (and cause) of being emotionally unhealthy for the Christian, is found solidly in the fact that one is not walking in obedience to God.
Oh, he may not be spending hours in pornography or using foul language, and she may not be spending hours gossiping over the phone or masturbating in wild fantasies, but neither are they doing what God tells us to do in the Bible. People don’t spend quality time in prayer, they don’t spend time bettering themselves as far as God is concerned, training themselves to be kind and loving to others. They spend more time in front of their computers, TV’s, phones and iPads than they do in personal praise and worship and reading God’s Word. Walking in obedience to God includes much, much more than simply obeying the 10 Commandments (which is what most people think).
On page 28 Scazzero shows that he knows little about sanctification, and gives us reason to believe that the gospel that he preaches to his congregation is primarily a social gospel, not the gospel of Christ (which follows suit since he also appears to be part and parcel of the Emerging Church movement). He says, “Part of the sanctification process of the Holy Spirit is to strip away the false constructs we have accumulated and enable our true selves to emerge.”
Pure adulterated nonsense. Sanctification has everything to do with bringing the Christian into deeper and deeper levels of walking in holiness before God. There is nothing inherently holy about a human being…there is nothing hiding deep within a person (our “true selves”) that the Holy Spirit is trying to let loose to emerge within us. We were indeed created as holy and righteous beings, but sin has marred what we were created as, and causes us to be what we are today. What we were created to be is not “our true selves,” because no matter how far down we go, what we were created to be has been destroyed.
The whole purpose of God now, is to bring those who so desire, through the battlefield of this life into a personal and intimate walk with Him through relationship and obedience. In fact, 90% of that relationship on our part, is obedience. When you walk in sin during the week (which entails both doing what God has told you not to do, as well as not doing what He has told you to do), and then stand in church with your hands raised, singing at the top of your voice – even if it is a true worship song – your worship is nothing more than a stench in the nose of God. Worship (in any form) without obedience (in every form), is actually an abomination to God. Read the first 12 verses of Jeremiah chapter seven for more clarification if you need it.
On page 30-31, Scazzero quotes Ron Sider’s book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience, in saying, “Whether the issue is marriage and sexuality or money and care for the poor, evangelicals today are living scandalously unbiblical lives…The data suggest that in many crucial areas evangelicals are not living any differently from their unbelieving neighbors.” So, Scazzero quotes Sider who obviously sees the problem in the mainline church today (walking in disobedience to God and to the Word of God) yet Scazzero’s approach to fixing the issue isn’t writing a book to motivate Christians to start walking in obedience to God…instead, he writes a book telling Christians to follow Buddhist and Hindu meditate practices so that (in his mind and words) they can “experience God.”
According to Scripture, if you want to experience God, hear His voice and enjoy having Him speak to you in your spirit, and enjoy feeling His presence…then you spend quality time with Him in prayer, in personal worship, and by walking in obedience to Him. Why did Paul, Peter, and Philip in the Book of Acts hear the Spirit speak to them? Because they were walking in obedience to Him, and the more we do so, the more He will speak to us because we are following His leading.
In Romans 8:14, Paul writes that those who follow the leading of the Spirit are the children of God. It does not matter if you got saved at age 16, if you are not actively following the leading of the Spirit, whether by unction or voice in your spirit, then you are not following His leading, and according to Paul, then, you are not really a child of God, no matter what you think. Meditating upon a mantra or your breathing will not cause you to walk in obedience to God.
In the tenth thing that Scazzero gives as a symptom of being emotionally unhealthy spiritually, Judging Other People’s Spiritual Journey (beginning on page 36), he falls back into the eastern mystic definition of spirituality again. On page 37 he says, “By failing to let others be themselves before God and move at their own pace, we inevitably project onto them our own discomfort with their choice to live life differently than we do…” This is echoed in the EHS Workbook, on page 12 under Suggested Guidelines for group study, under the heading “No Fixing, Saving, No setting Other People Straight,” we read…
Respect people’s journeys and trust the Holy Spirit inside of them to lead them into all truth – in his timing. Resist the temptation to offer quick advice as people share in the group.
Basically, what Scazzero is saying, it that it is OK if someone believes a false doctrine and that fact comes out somehow in the group discussion. It is OK if someone believes New Age doctrine because their journey just isn’t ‘there’ yet. It is OK if someone believes that they can engage in sexual behavior outside of marriage…the Holy Spirit will teach them that it is the wrong thing to do.
Scazzero directly contradicts Scriptural teaching here, so just for the record, and to be thorough in the exposure of his mentality here…
I Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,
II Timothy 4:4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
II Peter 2:1-2 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
Hebrews 13:9 Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
In these passages we are told that false doctrines and ignorance of the Truth will surely come into the church, and Paul tells us that we are saved by having correct knowledge of the Truth (II Thess. 2:13). In the following passages, we are told to correct those who believe things that are not the truth…we are never told to just let them go and hope that the Holy Spirit will teach them what they need to know (which nonsense we will address below)…
II Timothy 2:25 in gentleness, correcting those who oppose themselves, who repeatedly choose to hold to attitudes about things which are contrary to the gospel out of ignorance of truth; so that God might give them understanding, causing them to repent of their attitudes, and then move into a complete knowledge of the truth.
II Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is prompted by God, and is useful for direction in teaching, to bring about conviction and correction, for directing educative discipline into conformity to righteousness.
Ephesians 4:14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
Many are under the false notion that the job of the Spirit is to lead us into all truth as is incorrectly interpreted from passages like John 14:26 (“but…the Holy Spirit…will teach you all things”), in which case Jesus was only speaking to the apostles, which does not filter down to Christians today; and I John 2:27 (“and which will teach you all things”). Sadly, many completely forget the words immediately preceding those above; “and you have no need that anyone should teach you.” Yet, God ordains and commissions teachers in the church…but why, if the Holy Spirit is the one who will “teach you all things?”
One reason, is that the majority of people don’t understand the Scriptures, for various reasons. For another reason, which is not widely taught in the church today, not everyone who claims to be a Christian has the Holy Spirit dwelling within them, to be able to teach them the Truth. Remember, the Holy Spirit is a gift from God accorded only to those who remain abiding in the New Covenant, which we do by walking in obedience to Him. Therefore, if you got saved 3 years ago, but have not been walking in obedience to God from the 4th week after getting saved, then you have been calling yourself a Christian when you were only playing church, and you have not had the Spirit dwelling within you since that time.
Scazzero’s advise in leaving people to their false ideologies of Scripture and God, is just one more piece of evidence that he doesn’t have the Holy Spirit, and that he is not guided by Scripture, but rather by eastern esoteric religious teachings of paganism.
At the end of chapter 2, on page 37, Scazzero writes: “The pathway to unleashing the transformative power of Jesus to heal our spiritual lives can be found in the joining of emotional health and contemplative spirituality.” So, basically, what he is saying, is that we don’t need to walk in obedience to God in order to become spiritually mature (which includes becoming emotionally mature)…what we need to do is practice contemplative spirituality. That is, we need to practice Buddhist and Hindu meditative practices in order to enter into the spiritual realm, meet spirits there or contact the god within, and experience a personal encounter with what you would call the Holy Spirit or God/Jesus Himself.
This is nothing more than what is called today as “Christian mysticism,” which is summed up well by one web site:
Christ is the sole end of Christian mysticism. Whereas all Christians have Christ, call on Christ, and can (or should) know Christ, the goal for the Christian mystic is to become Christ—to become as fully permeated with God as Christ is, thus becoming like him, fully human, and by the grace of God, also fully divine. (http://www.frimmin.com/faith/mysticismintro.php)
Now, while not all so-called ‘christian mystics’ believe the last sentence above – that their goal is to become “fully divine” – this mysticism is exactly what Scazzero alludes to in this book, which is readily observed in his numerous references to, and quotes from, Catholic mystics (Brother Lawrence, Brennan Manning, Thomas Merton, Richard Rohr, Parker Palmer, Henri Nouwen, and John of the Cross). No undeluded, undeceived Christian in their right mind would ever even consider trying to “become Christ,” nor is that even possible. No person can ever even hope to attain to the reality of having the fullness of what Christ was, simply because He was Yahweh God in the flesh. But mysticism…going as far back as Christianity itself…is just the same old lie of satan to Eve in the garden, just wrapped up within Christian terminology – ‘you, too, can become a god.”
The beginning of chapter three starts out like this; “Once people begin their journey with Jesus Christ and join a church or community, our first task is to help them connect with God and grow spiritually. Our sincere hope is that they will allow the Word and the Spirit to transform each aspect of their lives. We teach them to…” then we find listed eight things that Scazzero apparently believes needs to happen in order for the new Christian to supposedly thrive spiritually – conspicuously missing from that list is obedience to God, especially when it comes to renewing our minds and walking in the Spirit.
This may be an oversight on his part, but the first task in helping those who want to begin the journey in life with Christ, is to make sure that they have indeed come to Christ on His terms and are saved. If the person is not yet saved, then absolutely nothing else that he does with his congregants will ever make a difference…they are still on their way to hell. They may well be living a good life, but as we all know, just being good does not cut the mustard when they stand before a holy God.
Then he goes on to say, “After a few years many find that past, deeply rooted behavioral patterns that move them away from Christ remain entrenched. And what we’re teaching them simply isn’t enough to combat those patterns. What most people are left with is a long list of things to do and not to do – ten new things to feel guilty about messing up on. What is needed is the injection of an antidote into all aspects of the Christian life – an antidote that turns our spiritual lives right side up. I’m talking about emotional health and contemplative spirituality” (emphasis in bold is his).
First, the only way to destroy those “deeply rooted behavioral patterns that move them away from Christ” is to obey the Word of God and renew their minds with the Word so that they can walk in the Spirit. If one’s mind is not renewed by the Word of God, nothing else that one tries to do for God, or in order to move closer to God, will ever work. The problem is first and foremost in the flesh (Romans ch. 7), and it is only through renewing the mind so that we can walk in the Spirit that the “motions of the flesh” can be “put to death” or, as the KJV says it, “mortified” (Romans ch. 8:1-13; Galatians 5:16-17).
Galatians 5:16-17 But I say, walk in the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh, because the flesh wars against the spirit, and fights against the spirit, in order to keep you from doing the spiritual things that you want to do.
No amount of Buddhist or Hindu meditation practices will stop the desires and passions of the flesh. Secondly (skipping the other unbiblical points that he messes up), contemplative spirituality, which he will give an awkward definition to here shortly, will not help. All it does is give a person an emotional and experiential “band-aid” and bring them close to demonic possession. Thirdly, Scazzero’s interpretation of Revelation is anything but accurate, thus the point he tries to make with it is also grossly missed.
On pages 45-46, Scazzero lists what, in his mind, contemplative spirituality is and does. This list follows immediately after a list of 12 things he thinks emotional health means; some of them are legitimate, but not all. The list making up his definition of what CS also has 12 items: we will address some of them here.
- “Awakening and surrendering to God’s love in any and every situation.”
Scazzero apparently has a warped sense of things here, either that or he has known some people who had a warped sense of things. God loves all people, He does not love our sin, but He loves those whom He has created, even sinners. “Awakening” and “surrendering” to God’s love is a misnomer, and if we think about it according to the Scriptures, it really makes no sense at all.
- “Positioning ourselves to hear God and remember his presence in all we do.”
A couple of things here; first, we position ourselves in order to hear God through Biblical prayer (as opposed to contemplative ‘prayer,’ which is not prayer at all, as we shall soon discuss), worship, and walking in obedience to Him. If we are not walking in obedience to Him, then you will “listen” for years and never hear Him speak (unless He really wants to point something out to you). Second, by “positioning ourselves” to hear God, Scazzero means, literally or figuratively, sitting a certain way, focusing upon a certain thing, emptying your mind, meditating upon a word or short phrase (mantra), and being silent so that you can hear a voice. None of this is Scriptural.
I, and many whom I have conversed with in the Christian community who have heard God speak to us, have had the same experience: it does not matter what you are doing, where you are, or how noisy you or your surroundings are…when God wants to speak to you, He can and you will hear His voice. I have been in the middle of praying, both whispering and out loud, even praying while crying out in tears, and when God spoke, it came over loud and clear in my spirit. This nonsense teaching today that you have to be quiet in order to hear that “small, still quiet voice” is nothing more than just that – nonsense.
Third, we don’t need to “remember his presence in all we do” because remembering does not amount to a hill of beans. We can, and should, remember the Lord in all we do, and we should also do all that we do for His glory. However, we are human, and being human we cannot live in His presence 100% of the time, and those who think that we can don’t know what they are talking about. When a person has really come into the presence of God, things happen that we cannot control. When a person comes into the presence of God, they weep, sometimes uncontrollably; they fall prostrate upon the floor, if they can remain in His presence for very long at all. The point is this, if we were in His presence for very long of a time, we could not function…the beds wouldn’t get made, we couldn’t drive to work (or anywhere, for that matter), we couldn’t work, we wouldn’t eat, etc.
I have been in the presence of God and I have conversed with others who have been, and while it is a wonderful experience that one never forgets for the rest of their lives, we in our human bodies cannot sustain that experience. Now, some people have misjudged what they think being in God’s presence is. They feel tingly all over and their hands might even begin to shake, but that is not what it is like being in the presence of God. When you are in His presence, your mind doesn’t think and your body only reacts to it like Jell-O would react to be struck by lightning. What I mean is that it is involuntary: you weep, some speak in tongues if they can speak at all, you fall to the ground prostrate or flat before Him, sometimes you can’t see anything, even with your eyes wide open, sometimes you can’t hear anything until the experience is over.
- “Communing with God, allowing him to fully indwell the depth of our being.”
This is more esoteric nonsense. God does not fully indwell the depth of our beings, He can’t…if He did, we would literally explode. God told Moses that “No man can see My face and live,” so if we cannot even look upon His face and live, how much more can the human body not contain His fullness? Jesus didn’t even have the fullness of God dwelling within Him; He did have the fullness of the Spirit, but not God as Yahweh Himself in His fullness. The wording Scazzero uses here is reminiscent of the same wording you can find in Buddhist or Hindu writings on the subject, but when they speak, they speak in the sense of allowing a spirit to enter into them and dwell in the depths of their bodies…and the spirits they are asking into them is not the Spirit of God.
Furthermore, we can commune with God anywhere we are, whenever we want to, because communing is simply talking to. We should get into the practice of talking to the Lord all throughout our days, about anything and everything, He should be our best friend. However, meditating and focusing on your breathing, or upon a word or phrase, is not communing with God.
- “Practicing silence, solitude, and a life of unceasing prayer.”
No where in Scripture are we taught to be silent in order to hear God, and the verses that these so-called “christian” contemplatives use as support for this teaching are taken out of context and twisted (which is nothing new). No where in Scripture are we told that we need to practice solitude in the way in which Scazzero means here. Yes, we need to get alone with God, that is a no-brainer. However, it is not humanly possible to live “a life of unceasing prayer.” We can do like Daniel and pray three times a day, and talk to Him all throughout our day, but there are some things that require our full attention…otherwise we will find ourselves in a lot of trouble in every area of our lives.
- “Resting attentively in the presence of God.”
I have already addressed this above; if you are indeed in the presence of God, you will not be attentive in anything, because you won’t be able to. Resting attentively while you feel tingly all over is just sitting there with tinglies…that’s it.
- “Understanding our earthly life as a journey of transformation toward ever-increasing union with God.”
This is straight out of Hinduism. All one need do is a web search for union with God in Hinduism, and paying close attention to the words and how they are used. We are said to be transformed through ‘self-consciousness,’ and we attain ‘union with God through experience,’ and even ‘Christ’ as the Hindu uses the term.
- “Adapting historic practices of spirituality that are applicable today.”
By “historical practices” Scazzero refers to the Catholic practices of mystic monks and so-called “desert fathers” of Catholicism; he does not refer to anything Scriptural or Christian. Keep in mind that in the ‘tradition’ of the so-called “christian-Buddhist” conglomeration, certain Catholics have not only adopted Buddhist/Hindu meditation principles into their daily routines, but then – because they believe themselves to be Christians following the Bible – they turn around and call it historical practices of the Christian faith. Again, remember that these people adopt Christian vocabulary just as easily as Buddhists and Hindus (and other pagan religions) adopt Jesus Christ as one of their venerated teachers, and both religions claim that Jesus visited major centers of each during His so-called “lost years” before turning 30 and starting His ministry.
Therefore, even though they ‘sound’ Christian, what they are teaching not only does not come from the Bible, but it actually goes against what Scripture teaches us concerning God and how He has instructed us to walk in godliness before Him. There is no “historical practices” within Christianity involving esoteric eastern religious meditations, and all such meditation practices take one dangerously close to demonic possession to one extent or another.
At the end of this list on page 46, Scazzero says, “The combination of emotional health and contemplative spirituality addresses what I believe to be the missing piece in contemporary Christianity. Together they unleash the Holy Spirit inside us in order that we might know experientially the power of an authentic life in Christ.” Sadly, Scazzero is deceived and doesn’t understand many things.
First, as stated before, what is missing from contemporary Christianity is personal righteousness and holiness among those who call themselves Christians. They live their lives, for the most part, just like they did before they got “saved” and do not pursue living holy and righteous lives. Holiness and righteousness are two sides of the same coin – called obedience. Righteousness is obeying God in doing what is right in His eyes, and holiness is keeping oneself from doing what is not right in God’s eyes. Both make up the nature of obedience, and when people who claim to be God’s children do not even attempt to live holy and righteous lives, then they do not have the abundant life that Jesus came to give them, nor do they possess any of the gifts or promises of God.
As has also been already spoken here, the two main reasons for this tragedy is that most churches are not pastored by those whom God has divinely called to take up the mantle of that position, and because of false teachings in the church since the Reformation and Calvin. When the church is told that we don’t need to do anything in order to maintain our standing with God as having eternal life, which is a direct contradiction to what the Scriptures teach, then human nature is to do exactly that…nothing. We instinctively know that we should, but if we are told that we don’t need to, then we don’t even try – we would much rather do what we want to do. And so, when we do what we want to do, rather than what God tells us to do in His Word, then we no longer remain abiding in Christ wherein all the blessings and gifts of God abide.
Secondly, contemplative spirituality does not “unleash the Holy Spirit inside us,” and this is a ridiculous statement for Scazzero to make if he was indeed called by God into any kind of ministry. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer walking in obedience to God, and any kind of ‘unleashing’ of the Spirit into our lives, or through our lives, comes directly from walking in obedience to His voice. Third, what brings the experience and “the power of an authentic life in Christ” into our lives is, again, walking in obedience to God…not sitting in silent contemplation of the universe in order to hear a spirit speak to us, especially when that spirit is not God.
On page 47, Scazzero says the following: “Awareness of and responding to the love of God is at the heart of our lives. We are first and foremost about God revealed in Christ.” I am sorry, but this is either the epidemy of lies from this book, or Scazzero is so deceived that he can’t see the forest for the trees. First, Scripture tells us how to respond to God’s love – by loving Him back; and we love on Him by walking in obedience to Him, not by sitting still focusing on our breathing and chanting a word or mantra…
John 14:15 If you love Me, then you will obey My commandments.
I John 5:3 Because this is how we love on God: we obey His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.
This is why I have such a hard time with people who are in Christian ministry who never received the tangible call of God on their lives…because they don’t understand simple, basic teachings (or they refuse to acknowledge them) of the Scriptures. The second great deception here is found in his words, “We are first and foremost about God revealed in Christ,” because if that was what was first and foremost about Scazzero, he wouldn’t be turning to pagan practices in effort to have an experience with God. What his book teaches has nothing to do with God revealed in Christ, it is all about how to practice a form of meditation that Buddhists and Hindus use in order to make contact with spirits that will supposedly help them to reach the god that lives within them.
Perhaps Scazzero is being completely straightforward and honest in his mind about what he is teaching people to do here…but he does so in ignorance of the Truth found in Scripture…
Ephesians 4:17-18 Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them…
On the same page, he says, “At the same time contemplation is not simply about our relationship with God.” Here is another misnomer in the works, contemplation is redefined in CS and does not mean what contemplation normally means. In the real world, contemplation means that you are thinking about something, contemplating it from all sides, meditation upon it…but in CS, contemplation is elevated to the place of relationship with God, it is placed upon equal standing with prayer.
Prayer is always accomplished by speaking (there are a few instances where people were only thinking in communion with God, but for the most part, prayer is talking to Him)…not simply thinking about a word or phrase or meditating upon the things of the world around us because ‘God is in everything’ (pantheism) so thinking about nature is thinking about God. CS has nothing to do with our relationship with God. Scazzero also equates contemplation a few lines down with “loving union with God.” Again, the CS version of contemplation is not a loving union with God…it isn’t even union with God in any sense of the word.
This kind of mentality comes straight out of Hindu religious thought and doctrine, not Scripture. A personal relationship with God is nothing less than how we engage each other in personal relationship; we speak to each other, take each other places, spend quality time with each other, and when we love another person we sometimes will even sing to them. A personal relationship with God consists of prayer (not just intercessory prayer, but also spending quality time just talking to Him about whatever), personal worship, and walking in obedience to Him. The more we walk in obedience to Him with the above combination of quality prayer and worship, He begins to speak to us and guide us to do things – thus we experience Him speaking to us and coming to know Him on a more intimate and personal basis. Without this loving walk with God where He begins to interact with us because we are loving on Him the way He tells us that He accepts love, then our “Christian walk” is not Christian, it is just living and playing church, and we get discouraged and leave the church because we are not experiencing God.
At the bottom of page 49, we see a diagram where “Contemplation” is sub-titled “Being with God.” Again, this is pure paganistic nonsense. Sitting in a room by yourself, emptying your mind, meditating upon a mantra if you need to, with your back straight and focusing on your breathing in effort to silence your thoughts, is NOT “being with God.” It is being with yourself…but then again, because this is based upon Hindu teachings, and god is already dwelling within all of his creation, to them you are spending time with the god that is in you. However, that god is not Yahweh God of the Bible; that god is you, and we are taught that enlightenment comes to show you that you are
This is the end of the first section, I will pick up on the second section of Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero in a later entry.