Rick Warren is one of America’s most influential Christian ministers. He’s so popular that many folks call him “America’s Pastor.” Warren has earned a reputation as larger than life and until a couple of years ago he was large around the middle! Because of health concerns he decided to shed a few pounds. But why go it alone? After all, he had his own personal cheering section if he wanted it – Saddleback Church in Forest Hills California, an evangelical megachurch he started in 1980. Thirty-three years later Saddleback boasts over 20,000 weekly attendees. He felt sure that many folks would cheer him on while others would join him in his endeavor to achieve a healthier lifestyle. So he said No! to Jenny Craig and took on the daunting task of developing a weight loss program that, according to Rick Warren, is “God’s prescription for your health.”
Sound like a plan?
Well, yes, in fact he christened it “The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life.”
On January 15, 2011, over 6,000 people made the trek to Saddleback’s main campus to learn what the Bible allegedly says about getting healthy. Thousands more watched online at the other Saddleback campuses.
In order to achieve his lofty goal, he brought together “three of the leading health specialists in America.” But surprisingly the three doctors picked by the pastor were not Christians – not by a long shot. In fact, when you look into some of the things they’re into (more on this in a moment), it’s fair to say that all three of them are into New Age/New Thought spirituality.
Who are the doctors Rick Warren chose? 1) Mehmet Oz. Dr. Oz is a Sufi Muslim, a cardio vascular surgeon, and popular daytime talk show host. 2) Dr. Daniel Amen (pronounced A-mun). Dr. Amen is a psychiatrist and brain imaging specialist. He’s also a practitioner of Tanta which is the use of Hinduistic-type mysticism during sexual intercourse. Dr. Amen is also a self-professed Christian. 3) Dr. Mark Hyman. Dr. Hyman is a practitioner in alternative therapies in health and medicine and is a secular Jew.
Does this seem like a good fit too you? I mean, why didn’t he elicit the aid of three notable Christian specialists to create “God’s prescription for your health”?
Furthermore, why would a high-profile evangelical pastor choose doctors who are entrenched in New Age/New Thought (occult) spirituality, as well as questionable alternative health practices? Warren’s fully aware that Paul cautioned the church in Thessalonica to abstain from even the appearance of evil (1 Thes. 5:22).
In light of what the Bible clearly teaches, it’s surprising that a Christian minister, who understands what the Bible teaches (or at least he should), is unconcerned that some in his flock may not know that the New Age practices he purports are anti-biblical and that they might very well involve themselves in the sort of pagan practices that the above mentioned doctors promote, practices that are expressly forbidden in Scripture. God’s people are to be separate from the pagan nations. In 2 Cor. 6:14-15 Paul says this to the Church:
Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?
When Pastor Rick chose the three doctors – specialists or not – to design a weight loss plan it was done in a way that would appeal to the sheep of his pasture, his audience. And of course many of them bought into their shepherd’s health plan, hook line and sinker.
But – why was he not concerned about his flock’s spiritual health? What fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness?
The three doctors believe that practicing meditation on a regular basis is integral to health and fitness. This is known as contemplative prayer (CP). Rick Warren promotes CP even though he knows perfectly well that it’s a form of neo-Gnosticism that, sadly, Protestants/evangelicals have borrowed from the monastic traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. Meditation is recommended in the book. On the Daniel Plan website, Dr. Joseph Mercola demonstrates the 4-7-8 breathing exercise (here) that he learned from meditation proponent Dr. Andrew Weil while attending a presentation. Dr. Hyman wrote an article for the site, Six Ways I Changed My Life and How You Can Change Yours without once mentioning God. He did, however, recommend the Hindu practice of yoga. So as you can see, there’s a very good reason for sounding the alarm regarding the Daniel Plan book that’s set to be released December 3, 2013.
Tell me more…
What does CP involve? Without getting too far afield, practitioners choose a single word or short phrase from the Bible and repeat it over and over during breathing techniques that come from India. Doing breathing techniques is an attempt to “bind the mind with one thought.” The goal is to achieve an altered state of consciousness (empty the mind completely) and to attain to the “higher self” that New Age/New Thought devotees believe to be the divinity within each person. The popular term for this is Transcendental Meditation.
So, what’s the big deal about Christians involving themselves in Eastern meditation? Well, the big deal is that when a person attains an altered state of consciousness it may bring him/her into contact with “familiar spirits,” which is a way of saying neutral or benign spirits. More commonly the spirits are anything but benign; they’re demons! According to the Bible, demons are fallen angles – prideful angles that rebelled against God and as a result were banished from His kingdom. Scripture rightly refers to the banished angels as “spiritual forces of evil.” They remain in rebellion against God. The spirits often appear to humans as “angels of light” – but they’re masters of deceit! So they’re not the good guys they trick us into thinking they are. Trust me on this; evil spirits are your worst nightmare – far worse than Freddie Kruger! For this reason Paul forewarned of Satan’s fondness for fooling the flock:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Cor. 11:12-15)
Former New Ager Ray Yungen warns:
Many people have unwittingly become New Agers by simply seeking to improve their physical and mental health through meditation.
Doctors Amen and Hyman co-authored the Daniel Plan book but Dr. Oz didn’t participate. Here’s a bit of background info on the book’s co-authors excerpted from my 2011 column Rick Warren Introduces the “Devil Plan”:
Dr. Daniel Amen
Dr. Amen is a child and adult psychiatrist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at the University of California at Irvine School of Medicine. In addition he is a brain imaging specialist.
Dr. Amen teaches “techniques that will improve ‘brain health,’ claiming that poor brain health is associated with a host of problems from overeating to depression. … He includes meditation (and in fact this is his primary tool) as a way to have a healthy brain.”
Dr. Amen recommends a meditation called Kriya Kirtan which is from the Kundalini tradition:
“I teamed with Drs. Dharma Singh Khalsa and Nisha Money to study the impact of meditation on the brain. We chose a simple 12 minute form of meditation, Kriya Kirtan, that is easy for busy people to practice. It is based on the five primal sounds: Saa, Taa, Naa, Maa (aa being the fifth sound). Meditators [sic]say each sound as they consecutively touch their thumb to fingers two, three, four and five. The sounds and fingering are repeated for two minutes out loud, two minutes whispering, four minutes silently, two minutes whispering and two minutes out loud.” (Online source)
Dr. Amen is also a practitioner of Tantric or tantric sex which is the use of Hinduistic-type mysticism during sexual intercourse. Lighthouse Trails Research (LTR) reports:
“In a 6-CD set called Create a More Passionate Night, Dr. Amen has teamed up with advanced certified Tantra educator, T. J. Bartel. … Tantra is the name of the ancient Hindu sacred texts that contain certain rituals and secrets. Some deal with taking the energies brought forth in meditation through the chakras and combining them with love-making to enhance sexual experiences.”
“Make no mistake about it” says LTR, “Reiki, meditation, tantric sex – these are very powerful mystical experiences that have the capability to delude and deceive those who are involved with it.”
For Christians who have read to this point, I hope you’re becoming alarmed.
Dr. Mark Hyman
Dr. Mark Hyman is editor-in-chief of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine which is said to be “the most prestigious journal in the field of integrative medicine, and the medical editor of Alternative Medicine, the Art and Science of Healthy Living.”
In her article, Alternative/ Blended/ Complementary/ Integrated Healing, Marcia Montenegro examines alternative therapies:
“It is called alternative because the technique/ drug/ herb has not been or cannot be adequately tested, or has been found ineffective or dangerous. If it were a safe, tested treatment, it would not be in the alternative category. Many cited studies to support these methods are flawed, short-term, based on anecdotal evidence, conducted by believers in the techniques, & often are not published in a peer-reviewed medical journal. The terms complementary, blended, and integrated are now being used as well since alternative treatments are being combined with traditional medicine. This makes it more difficult to test the alternative methods or to know what is really working when the patient improves. It should be remembered that the placebo effect accounts for 30% or more for a person feeling better.”
Dr. Hyman claims he’s not into meditation but he does recommend yoga to create calm.
In my article Can A Pagan Practices Be “Christianized” I explain why Christians must avoid yoga:
“Christian apologists John Ankerberg and John Weldon maintain that, ‘The basic premise of yoga theory is the fundamental unity of all existence: God, man, and all of creation are ultimately one divine reality.’ To explain the basic premise, the authors quote from an editorial in the Yoga Journal: “We are all aware that yoga means ‘union’ and that the practice of yoga unites body, breath, and mind, lower and higher energy centers and, ultimately self and God, or higher Self. But more broadly, yoga directs our attention to the unity or oneness that underlies our fragmented experiences and equally fragmented world. Family, friends, the Druze guerrilla in Lebanon, the great whale migrating north – all share the same essential [divine] nature.””
Dr. Hyman participated in a program called Yoga, Body & Spirit at Shambhala Mountain. The program included Susan Piver, who offered instruction in the ancient wisdom tradition of Buddhist meditation, and Richard Reoch who presented Golden Ball Chi Kung.
Dr. Hyman retails expensive supplements “critical for supporting lifelong health,” books and CDs in his “healthy living store” online. The UltraWellness Essentials Kit for Women costs $130 for a one month supply. For youngsters it’s a tad less. Only $47 per month because “Like adults, children need a purified source of essential fatty acids to help build healthy brain cells, support focus and attention, and optimize metabolism.”
This is UltraBunk!
Earth to Dr. Hyman! At your exorbitant cost for “high-quality multi vitamin and minerals” most families can’t afford to get healthy! (Visit Dr. Hyman’s store)
Why has this not dawned on Pastor Rick? In one of his promotional videos he held up each of the doctors’ books and urged his congregants to purchase them! This makes one wonder if Dr. Hyman’s books recommend the high priced vitamins, and if this is the case, who derives benefit from the sale of these products?
That an evangelical pastor would allow his sheep to be influenced by New Age ideas and questionable medical practices should give us pause. Christians should avoid becoming involved in any sort of assembly where we are powerless to address issues that come up which could cause us to compromise our biblical principles. Moreover, it should give us pause when the minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ teams up with occultists!
I’ll close with a quote from John 10:7-13:
Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling [hired hand], and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
New Age Spirituality – On Solid Rock Resources
Contemplative Prayer – On Solid Rock Resources
Rick Warren’s New Age Health Gurus – Berit Kjos and Sara Leslie
Saddleback Church, Rick Warren, and Spiritual Disciplines – By Ken Silva
Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan Accelerates – Tells Followers to Practice 4-7-8 Hinduistic Meditation – By Lighthouse Trails Research
By Marsha West